the ballad of jane doe @choosejoy
sailing through space

Not all endings are fair.

 

This is something Wilde has learned time and time again, especially in his line of work.

 

So, when his time finally comes, he vows to make a difference. You know, the one perk to being able to predict the deaths of everyone you come into contact with is that you can actually plan ahead for these sort of things. So, while he might not be able to stop anything, he can rewrite the future, just a bit.

 

He chooses his group carefully— a set of six, all tragically perishing in the same accident just a few hundred feet from his own booth.

 

If only he’d been able to tell them to avoid the rollercoaster. Damn family friendly settings.

 

No matter. They’ll do nicely.

 

They’re friends. Or, well, mostly. Coworkers is too vague, and family feels... something. Something personal.  He hardly thinks it’s his place to decide that. The point is, it’ll make things easier, when they have a choice to make.

 

Speaking of, it’s only a matter of time before the cart derails, and Wilde has to work quickly if he’s going to have everything prepared before the rat chews through the cord on his booth.

 

So, he prepares.

 

——

 

Hamid opens his eyes.

 

How is he opening his eyes? The last thing he remembers is his stomach pitching out from under him as he falls and falls and falls.

 

——

 

Azu opens her eyes.

 

The afterlife isn’t what she expected. It looks a lot like the backstage of a tented theater.

 

——

 

Grizzop opens his eyes.

 

“Fuck,” he says.

 

——

 

Cel opens their eyes.

 

They’re off their feet in seconds, rocketing around the impossible room and poking at anything they can get their hands on.

 

——

 

Zolf opens his eyes.

 

For some reason, the first thing that strikes him is that he’s in no pain at all.

 

——

 

A doll opens her eyes.

 

She doesn’t know who she is.

 

——

 

When the six finally arrive, Wilde almost can’t believe his luck. The timing was tight, is tight— tighter than he thinks it should be, but then, death is rarely slow enough for anyone’s liking, even when you can predict it.

 

Still, when they open their eyes, he breathes a heavy sigh of relief. Or, he would, if he were alive. Semantics.

 

“I am the great and all-powerful Wilde,” he says, his voice booming from the speakers around the room.

 

The six startle, save for the doll. “W ho do you think you are?” the small pointy one asks, far too many teeth on display.

 

“Did I not just answer that?” he responds, drily. He knows how the pointy one (Grizzop, his mind reminds him) is going to respond, so instead he presses on. “You’re all dead.”

 

This gets a bigger reaction, though it varies more wildly: anger, grief, and denial from most, yes, but also... excitement, somewhat unsurprisingly, from the elf.

 

“Why are we here, then?” the orc (Azu, he thinks) asks, her timbre a clear, palpable comfort to her friends.

 

“There’s a way out,” Wilde responds, “but only for one of you, I’m afraid.”

 

“Why the hell not all of us?” the dwarf speaks, this time. “You toying with us for fun? This amusing to you?”

 

Wilde can’t help but sigh. Time is ticking, and this is going slower than it should (he can feel the cord snapping still). “Unfortunately, in exactly 2 hours and 7 minutes, a mouse is going to eat through the cord of my box and I will die as well. I can only bring one of you back, that’s the way it works.”

 

“Hang on,” responds Zolf, “you’re that creepy fortune telling animatronic thing from the carnival, aren’t you?”

 

Wilde sighs, again, before responding in the affirmative.

 

“You—you’re the one who told us to ride the cyclone,” the halfling pipes up, finally rising to his feet.

 

“I’m afraid so,” he responds, “Unfortunately even I can’t change the settings on my booth. Now, if we can get st—“

 

He’s cut off by the elf, this time. “How is this even possible?” they say, still running around the room, “There’s light and sound and we’re all together, this shouldn’t be possible! It’s remarkable!”

 

“As much as I’d like to toot my own horn, as it were, we really don’t have long.”

 

“Who’s that?” Azu asks now, pointing to the doll.

 

“I’m afraid I don’t know. I was hoping you would,” he sighs. “She was... decapitated, in the end, and no one claimed her. A Jane Doe, I’m afraid. Do none of you remember her?”

 

The five look around at each other, more than a little shaken by the realization that no, any memory of her has seemingly vanished from their minds.

 

“No matter,” he presses on, clapping his plastic hands together, “We must get started. I was hoping you all could state your cases for me. Who’s first?”

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