I am trapped. Held prisoner in a small metal box. My body is free to go wherever it may, but I can only breathe what air is in this safe. I can only eat what food is in this safe. I can only drink what water is in this safe. I’m parched, starving, and beginning to suffocate. The air is stale and my lungs are empty.
I see the safe every day. It’s in my own home. So close and yet so far. Without the key, there is no escape. No escape at all. I breathe the last of the air, and I die of asphyxiation. I drink the last of the water, and I die of thirst. I eat the last of the food, and I die of starvation. I die again and again, yet I somehow live.
The reaper of souls approaches, in whatever form he may take, and I know my demise has come at last. Yet, before he takes me, he produces a small metal object. Thin and flat, with an unevenly serrated edge. This is it. This is the key. He releases the lock, and opens the safe. He takes something out: A stack of money. He holds the bills in one hand, and with the other he conjures up a flame. Benjamin Franklin’s portrait crumbles to ash. I feel air re-enter my lungs.
He now takes in his right hand a stack of paperwork from the safe. All manner of bureaucratically binding documents and dossiers. A sinister fire reduces the paperwork to nothing but ash. And I see before me a glass of water.
The third item is a cell phone. Again, fire reduces it to… well, a slightly singed cell phone. So instead he conjures up a hammer and smashes it. Still having no luck, he carefully dismantles it instead and responsibly places it in an e-waste bin. Now, regretting my $80 case as it disrupted the flow of an otherwise dramatic moment, I see an appetizing meal appear in front of me.
I’m ecstatic; I leap to claim my reward – my reward for putting up with life’s misery. Finally, I get to enjoy myself! But he stops me. He stops me and says, “This is hardly an appropriate time – at the 59th second of the 59th minute of the 23rd hour. The fact of the matter is, you are dead. You’ve had your time. To breathe, to drink, to eat; you’ve had every chance.”
The food is gone. The drink is gone. The air is gone.