“Awww, nuts,” Linus opened his eyes and sighed when he recognized the office. He was seated in a comfortable rolling chair in front of a small particle-board desk. A beige monitor took up more than half of the desk. A transparent phone with glowing pink and blue neon lights rested on the other end of the desk. The high-back leather chair behind the desk was empty. He settled in his seat, focused his attention on the phone, then waited.
A door opened behind him and he whirled around to see who it was. A fat man in a red t-shirt and blue jeans walked in with a smile; he wore a navy blue business coat on his shoulders like a cape. His golden hair was as stringy as a bird’s nest and almost as organized.
“Linus!” he grinned and patted Linus on the back heartily as he walked past. “Great to meet you man, congratulations!”
“Chase?” Linus asked. Despite visiting the office several hundreds of times he’d never met his caseworker. Chase always conducted phone interviews. The fat man nodded; his pale, chubby cheeks wobbled with the motion.
“No more phone interviews,” Chase said. He glanced at the neon phone with a bit of sadness. “Some bull crap about…,” he changed his tone to a mocking authoritative voice. “professional appearance and professional standards.” Chase shook his head. “Anyway, you did it! You’re the last you in,” Chase opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a manila folder. He opened it on the desk and began looking over the forms within.
“How many?” Linus asked.
“We got you down to five,” Chase flipped a sheet over and continued reading. “It looks like you’re the tie-breaker.” Linus nodded.
“Can I go again?” Linus asked. “I mean, to get more points?” He felt disappointed when Chase shook his head.
“Theoretically, yes,” Chase said. “But, you’re already outvoted on that. The other ‘yous’ want to cash out. Luckily they agree on pretty much everything; there’re only a few decisions you have to make.”
“Oh,” Linus sighed. “Fine, what’s my last life like?” he asked. Chase tapped the skull tattoo on his forehead.
“You earned enough to become a Calavera with an extra perk.” Linus sat up with a smile.
“Extra perk?” he asked. “Like what?” Chase flipped another form over and looked at the next sheet.
“Your latest couple of lives…,” Chase made a gesture at Linus. “…this last one in particular, you got pretty environmental.” Linus nodded.
“Yeah, I thought I could extend the path and go all the way to Mundo.” Chase returned the nod.
“You could’ve if you weren’t outvoted. But,” Chase smiled. “You managed to get enough points in ‘Environmentalist’ to get you an elemental power. You get to choose which.” Linus smiled to himself.
“Whoa… a Calavera with elemental powers? I like the sound of that,” he chuckled. “So I’ll be able to control one of the four ele-“
“Six,” Chase corrected.
“Earth, fire, wind, water…,” Chase said. “…sun, and void.”
“Earth,” Linus said. “I mean, that’s my choice.” Chase nodded and grabbed a pen to scribble something on the form.
“Any preference about what kind of Earth you’re born on?”
“No…,” Linus said. He started out strong, but the ‘o’ stretched out as he thought. “…but, I don’t want to be the only Unique. Is that possible? I’d like to meet a Unique as soon as possible.” Chase smiled as he continued adding notes to the form.
“Our control of your circumstances isn’t quite that exact, but I’ll add a note and we’ll see what happens.” He chuckled. “The universe works in mysterious ways. Gender?”
“I.. I can choose that too?” Linus asked. Chase shrugged.
“Technically, no. But I know what’s it’s like to have decisions taken out of your hands,” he said with a friendly sigh. “You wanted to keep going but you can’t. It sucks, and I don’t want you to start your last life on a sour note. We…,” Chase tapped the navy blue coat on his shoulders. “…are supposed to choose for you. Mix up your lives a bit, you know? But, what the hell. You made it this far, I’ll let you pick. Linus shrugged.
“Thanks! I appreciate the gesture, but I really don’t care. Surprise me.” Chase nodded.
“Whoa, that too!?”
“Yes, when you become a Unique,” Chase said. Linus shrugged.
“You pick for me, a favor from one Calavera to another.” Linus was not ready for the questions but he trusted Chase enough to let him answer.
“Cool, I can do that,” Chase said. Looks like we’re all set, you’ll be born in a bit,” he closed the folder. “Any guidelines for the name? Anything you don’t want?” Linus smiled and shook his head.
“Nah, I trust you. Just make sure it’s something…,” Linus’ head wavered as he considered several words he wanted to use. Then, he settled on one. “…something majestic.”