“Do you know how they do this?” The blue-gray misty shape shifted back and forth, eager for its turn.
“I have no idea. I never worry about it.” The red-orange mist was much more diffuse. “Why? Have you figured it out?”
“Not yet.” Blue-gray refocused its attention on the head of the line. It watched the mist at the front lift a pair of dice and drop them on a large square table. They flopped a little bit and came to a rest. The black die was a four. The white one stopped on six. “Somehow this combination determines where you end up. I’m sure of it.”
“You think?” The yellow-green mist behind blue-gray had been eavesdropping in the line.
“Well think about it,” blue green replied, shifting its focus backward. “The dice must be a way to randomize where you go, right? Where were you last time?”
Yellow-green thought a moment. “I’m not totally sure but it feels like I was some kind of college professor. I was comfortable, and pretty smart.”
“Noice!” Red-orange jumped in. “I think I like, influenced people somehow. You know? It doesn’t feel like I learned too much but I had a good time, for sure.”
Blue-gray shifted forward again. “That does sound fun for a while, but you didn’t learn anything?”
“Ah, well. Maybe. I doubt it was enough to be a professor or anything. I was having fun. It’s all good though. I’m going back, right?”
Yellow-green piped in. “Well, it seems that if you went through all that and didn’t learn anything then you wasted that opportunity.”
“Whatever. You think you learned so much, mister professor? Tell me how to make a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster?”
“Ha! Nice try. That’s a fictitious drink from a Douglas Adams novel.”
“You still don’t know how. Fine. What about Sex on the Beach?”
“I actually did that, influencer kid.”
“Ah ha! I got YOU this time. That’s a drink made of Vodka, Peach Schnapps, orange and cranberry juice! See. I knew you didn’t know how to have fun.”
Blue-gray interrupted their pissing contest. “Look you two. That one rolled a black-six and white-one. They sent him through that door over there. What does it mean?”
Red-orange pounced on the question. “I bet that one will be a bunny and an eagle will eat it.”
“Wait a minute.” Blue-gray was bothered. “You really think we could come back as a rodent after being human? That’s terrible. Seriously how awful a person would you have to be to come back as a lower creature like a bunny? Yikes.” A visible vibration shuddered through its mist.
“That is highly unlikely. Even you, do you think your consciousness would even fit in a bunny? Maybe a dolphin. Maybe.” Yellow-green would have smiled if it could, but instead it shimmered with iridescence to signal its pleasure with the sick burn it had just delivered to red-orange.
“A dolphin? You arrogant…”
“Stop it you two. Don’t you want to know how the decision is made? Don’t you think it matters where we go?” Blue-gray would have scowled at them, but instead the upper area of its vapor cloud turned dark and ominous like a storm cloud.
“Why do you care so much anyway? It’s not like you can change it.” Red-orange hovered closer to its turn to drop the dice. “It’s random, right? So who cares?”
Blue-gray cloud-scowled darker. “I do!”
“Statistically, it’s what? One in thirty-six chance of landing on any combo, and that assumes that the different colored dice are significant. They could have just lost one out of both sets and the color doesn’t matter.” Yellow-green was showing off its smarty-mist professorship.
“You’re both dumb — overthinking all of this.” Red-orange couldn’t help pick up the intellectual gauntlet that had been thrown. “You’re gonna go somewhere and appear as someone. No matter where or who — even when — you’ll be stuck in that mess. It’s gonna hurt and be slow and a giant pain in the ass. Get over it. Every one of us is gonna have to crap every day. So, you’re both dumb to worry about it. Go ahead and worry if it makes you feel better. Just shut up. I’m gonna go wherever and make the most of it. I’m gonna go have some fun.”
None of them spoke while the next three colored clouds of fog raised the dice and dropped them, each new combination sending them to different doorways. Blue-gray was still trying to deduce what numbers would land it in a good place, with status, money and comfort. It really wanted to go to a nice family. It hoped for a pleasant way to spend all that time stuck in a material existence — in matter.
Yellow-green spoke first. “There’s sort of six races, right? I bet one is race. Black, White, Yellow, Brown. No. That can’t be it. Unless one option is Dolphin and one orangutan. Ha! One could be a sliding scale of economic status, right?”
“Obviously not. Professor, you should know that those are not evenly distributed, so having equal odds of each one doesn’t make sense. There’s six continents, so maybe that is one of them. But…” Blue-gray trailed off trying to think it through.
Red-orange mumbled, “It’s all the same.”
“What? Say that again?” Yellow-green was listening intently.
“It is all the same. No matter what dice you get it’s all the same. You’re born with your genitals in the air. You live a while and then you die. None of that crap that happens in the middle actually matters when you land back in this line, and you always do. Damn you’re both morons.”
Blue-gray chimed in. “That makes no sense.”
“Exactly. The senses are whatever. They don’t matter. It’s what you get from it — from the feelings. You two idiots haven’t learned anything except to want more of the easy-breezy bull-crap life you had last time. Boring. Dumb. Useless.”
“You ever jump out a plane? Climb a huge mountain? Get your ass beat standing up for somebody? I bet not. You’re shit at this. You’ll have plenty of chances to figure out the dice, but I’m telling you. They don’t matter. You might as well go back as a dog. That’s all you’ve been so far, apparently. Goddamn dogs, both of you.”
Both blue-gray and yellow-green hovered without a shimmer or wiggle. Red-orange was next. They held still to see where it would be sent. It hovered up to the table and tried to lift the dice. Nothing happened. It tried again. Still nothing.
“Ha. You think you’re so smart, but you’re just a punk. Talking crap like you know something.” Blue-gray said, and waves passed through it. He and yellow-green both shimmered feeling vindicated.
Suddenly a door opened in the ceiling and red-orange began to dissipate up into it. Yellow-green and blue-gray strained to see where it was going. Neither of them had ever seen anyone go there before.
On its way up, just before being fully dispersed into the doorway above them red-orange said just two words in parting.