DEATH was confused.
He asked Susan, WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS? WHY DID THE BOX SEND ME A LETTER?
Susan sighed. “I set you up with the computer to make it easier for you to look for videos of cats. I thought it would amuse you.”
MANY OF THEM ARE NOT RESPECTFUL TO CATS.
Susan had never had pets, but if she ever had any, it would not be cats. Cats, she thought, were not particularly respectful to other creatures, and she secretly enjoyed the videos of misjudged leaps and lost dignity. I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER had been bookmarked long ago. Never mind. She had not been called here to deal with felines.
“I also set you up with an email program—never mind—I set up the box so we could write letters and you wouldn't have to send the rat.”
It hadn't helped. DEATH had learned to type, not much problem for someone who had eternity to learn “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” although he questioned the wisdom of the fox. But now he typed out his letters, and then sent the rat with them.
“You have an email account, even if you've never used it. And apparently the computer decided that you needed to see these letters.”
She turned to glower at the innocent looking desktop which had recently shown a ghost in the machine. If it was going to develop sentience, she'd have to take it away. She hadn't bought it to bother him.
“See here—they don't actually expect you to—it's not serious—well, it is serious, but they don't expect you to interfere, really. Probably.” She pressed her lips together. The petition was one of the oddest tributes she'd seen, but then she was DEATH's granddaughter, and not disposed to appreciate frivolity.
BUT WHY DID THEY ADDRESS THIS TO ME IF THEY ARE NOT SERIOUS?
They both looked at the official change.org petition. “DEATH—bring back Terry Pratchett.”
“Remember when you told me that humans need fantasy to be human? To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape?”
“He said that first. He wrote about you, very often. You were a character in almost every one of his books. His readers miss him, very much, and this is one of their ways of honoring him. They wish he had lived longer. In their minds, it is injustice that he died so young.”
DEATH could never have a facial expression, but his shoulders bowed a little.
SURELY THEY DO NOT EXPECT ME TO UNDO THE LAWS OF CAUSALITY. THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE IS ONLY ME.
“I know. He said that, too. Here, I'll erase the petitions.”
WAIT. I WILL READ THEM.
She was startled. “There are nearly thirty thousand! It will take ages.”
I HAVE AGES. AND SO DOES HE.
They both looked out towards a garden where the only color was a field of wheat, waving in a silent breeze. A man dressed in black, with a black hat, was looking at the field.
“Are you going to let him read them?”
DEATH sighed, even though he had no lungs to sigh. I DO NOT THINK IT WISE. HE CANNOT RETURN. I WILL TELL HIM HE IS MUCH MISSED.
“Why is he here, anyway? He's not going to stay?”
NO. I BROUGHT HIM FOR A VISIT BEFORE HE GOES ON.
The man picked up an orange kitten, holding it gently.
Susan walked out to the garden to stand beside the man, her white hair with its one black streak undoing and reshaping itself. She slipped her arm into his and leaned against his shoulder.
When he was sure she could not see, DEATH pulled out a single piece of paper, finest quality stock with black borders, with worryingly sharp calligraphy letters. He re-read it and then wrapped it around an empty lifetimer, quickly hiding it in his desk drawer. Even anthropomorphic manifestations needed a bit of fantasy occasionally.
AUDITORS: BRING BACK TERRY PRATCHETT.