The morning before the official start of PAX, I flew out the hostel door with camera gear and Tomodachi Life in tow. My first stop was Volunteer Park, a small park set back behind the carefully manicured homes of Capitol Hill. I wandered the brief paths for a couple hours, occasionally passed by runners (none of them Chris Evans, unfortunately) and cheerful pit bulls.
If a machine existed that could predict how you were going to die, would you use it? After wandering the Comic-Con floor for hours my wife and I stumbled across a small booth near the back of the hall. Mysteriously propped up on the table was a strange device made of metal and plastic roughly the size of an old cash register. Written on the side of the machine was “Machine of Death” and a note nearby read “Death Prediction Test – FREE!” After staring at the machine for a few moments my wife and I looked at each other with smirks on our faces before she finally asked me “do you want to try it?” Not believing all that much in death predicting super-science, I said yes.
While we were staring at the machine trying to figure out what the hell it was, a bearded man approached from behind the counter and asked us if we would like to give it a shot. The man went on to say that the machine is purposefully vague and gives no detail as to WHEN the death will actually occur.
Even though I knew deep down that this machine was designed for fun (and to help sell the book Machine of Death) it still really got me thinking. If such a machine did exist, would I ever actually use it? How big of an impact would a real Machine of Death have on my life? If it told me I was going to die in a car accident, would I ever ride in a car again, or would I avoid automobiles for the rest of my days? It’s hard to say.
My wife agreed to go first and the bearded man removed a red felt pen from behind the counter. He jabbed her finger with the red pen to simulate a pin prick, grabbed a small swab of toilet paper from behind the counter, collected her faux blood sample, and fed it into a small slot on top of the machine. Within a few seconds a small card slowly slid out. On the back of the card was a single word… RUST. Did this mean that my wife would one day become a cyborg? Or that she’d step on a deadly rusty nail? Rust could mean so many things!
Beyond curious at this point I stepped up next for my own prediction. After a similar pin prick and a few seconds of waiting my card appeared… PUT DOWN. Will I be euthanized at an old age, or be ridiculed to death by my peers? We shall see.
It turns out The Machine of Death is an often hilarious collection of short stories by over thirty authors that tackles the impact of the machine on society. If such a machine were available at the local mall, would people actually use it? Check out the The Machine of Death here at their site to see how various characters react to getting cards that read: firing squad, improperly prepared blowfish, fudge, and more.