I reached the end of my life and it was time for my performance review.
“Robert MacMillan,” said the Judge. “Made it to 98. Not bad. You clearly took care of yourself.”
“Thanks,” I said.
The Judge waved it off. “I’m only here for facts. I looked in on you from time to time–I’m assigned to a million mortals at once, so you’ll forgive me if I skipped a phew phases of your life.”
“That’s quite all right,” I said, trying to remain polite. They really streamlined this whole review process in the last few generations. Too many mortals to keep track of, I guessed.
“Used to be a hundred, if you can believe it,” said the Judge.
“The amount of mortals I Judged at a time. You lot breed like mad. Soon I was watching a thousand, then ten thousand, and now look where we are… Well don’t worry. My review will remain fair. I’ve gotten quite good at my job.”
“Rather ruthless this time, don’t you think?”
“How do you mean?”
“Your previous lives were never so selfish. The latest run turned you into a greedy, miserly fellow. Everything and everyone had a price for you, didn’t it?”
“I did the best with what the Wheel gave me,” I said stiffly. I was always irritated by the Judge’s, well, judgemental attitude. It wasn’t as though I was allowed to remember my past lives. How was one supposed to do better if one had no chance of learning from one’s mistakes? The whole system made no sense to me. Every time a life ended and I came back here, I always cringed at the choices I made in my latest lifetime. I should have known better. But I wasn’t allowed.
I refrained from complaining. The Wheel of Fortune was supposed to be random, but I had a feeling the Judge had a good handle on how to influence it.
“You made a lot of money, that’s for sure,” the Judge went on.
He scratched his chin, trying to remember my life. It must have been hard to differentiate between a million different people. Did he never get them mixed up?
“Some philanthropy for good measure,” he said. “When you’ve got the money, you can afford it. Looks like it always got you favours though. Tsk tsk.”
I was fuming, my teeth clicking together behind pursed lips as I worked my jaw.
“Altogether, not wholly impressive, but you did well with your finances and your health, so that earns a star at least. I’d say three in total. Eh, two and a half.”
What? He couldn’t just lower it! “You said three,” I said.
“My Judgement is two and a half stars,” said the Judge. “You cannot haggle with me, though I’m sure that’s your inclination.”
“One of your lowest scores yet. Do try to step things up in this next life.”
“You know,” I said, keeping the rage from my voice as best I could, “I’m not going to remember that you told me this.”
“You will soon enough.”
“Not during my lifetime.”
“No. Spin the Wheel, please.”
“You want me to spin it?”
“New policy. There was some concern over Judges affecting the turn of the wheel. Other Judges, of course. I was always impartial…”
Bullshit. But even though he didn’t turn the Wheel, he still Judged me. And antagonizing him would get me no closer to Paradise.
I turned the Wheel. It had several Wheels inside it, for different categories such as race, place of birth, sex, orientation, and so forth. Apparently I was going to be a gay Samoan man in the Northwest Territories this time.
“Good luck,” said the Judge. “Try to be less of a bastard in this life. I’ll be watching.”
That was it. I opened my mouth to call him the bastard he was, but all that came out was a baby’s wail as a doctor placed me into my new mother’s arms.
Day 355’s three random writing prompt categories were, “A bad review,” “Wheel of fortune,” and, “Everything is for sale.”
Ten more days, you guys. TEN MORE DAYS.