“According to our records you’re dead,” said the man. He turned away from me to look again at the computer screen.
“Well there must be some mistake,” I said, “I’m clearly still alive.”
The official looked at me doubtfully. “Not according to the computer.”
Reluctantly he called over his colleagues to check my paperwork. The chief of these officials was a red-faced man in his fifties. “It’s beyond challenge, I’m afraid. You’re definitely dead. It’s there in three different files, signed off by the Chief Executives of all three departments.”
He stared at me, as if daring me to remain alive in defiance of the bureaucratic equivalent of a running flush.
“How can you say I’m not alive, you can still hear me talking. Look, I can jump up and down. I can even dance. Dead men can’t dance.”
“It’s all very well jumping and dancing; that doesn’t help anyone. Dead is dead and that’s what the forms say.”
“You’ll have to sort it out,” I said.
The officials looked at each other, nodded, and the leader turned and spoke. “We think the best thing would be if we, you know, gave you a blow to the head.”
“Then I really would be dead.”
I didn’t like their reasoning. “Couldn’t I lodge an appeal or something?”
They laughed. “How could a dead man lodge an appeal?” said the man in charge, “There are simply no systems in place to answer complaints from dead people.”
“Look, I understand it’s worrying for you,” said the official, “but it’s for the best. You’ve nothing to live for now you’re classed as dead. You won’t be able to work, let alone claim benefits. One quick blow to the noggin and all our problems are solved. And all your organs can be used to save other lives.”
“That’s right,” enthused one of the other officials, who I now realized was a woman, “your kidneys, liver, heart, brain stem, even your eyes. You could be saving the lives of four or five people.”
“Or make a really good fry up,” said the lead official. “Look, all you have to do is sign this form. It’ll clear us of all implications for killing you. Sign it. You know it’s for the best.”
“I understand your point,” I said, “but how can I sign the form? I’m dead.”