Death in the Metropolis


Our Special Correspondent Investigates how the Metropolitan Power Company has Dealt with the Fatal Fallout of the Recent Gang Violence.

Whether due to the summer heat, or the vagaries of the underworld economy, or perhaps one of those meaningless sparks that start most wars, we shall probably never know for sure the causes of the recent gang violence in the Eastern South Hemisphere 4 Sector. However, it has been fascinating to follow the forces of law and order as they clean up in the wake of the violence.

“The Metropolitan Power Company has been dealing with the increased levels of mortality, but it has not been overwhelmed and has been able to fulfil all the duties expected of it by the citizens of the Metropolis,” said PR boss Hermes at a recent press conference, but this doesn’t match up with what I’ve been seeing on the ground.

I met cerebral collector Xenophon slumped, exhausted, in a bar after his third consecutive shift. He can’t even find the energy to finish the whisky I buy him. It hardly needed saying, but when I ask him for his description of the last month, he simply replies: “Hellish.”

The Bureau of Metropolitan Statistics has said that the mortality rate has risen by 11.2% in the ESH4S over the summer. In effect this means around about 4000 additional bodies to be harvested per week, and it is people like Xenophon who have the unenviable job of finding and dealing with them.

“We’re on call for every hour of the six-hour shifts,” he explains. “There’s a telephone in the van. Whenever someone sees a stiff, we have to get there as soon as possible. The quicker we can get the brain on ice, the more effective a processor it is.” In a normal shift, the cerebral collectors would expect to get a call every half an hour or so. This summer they’ve received calls every five minutes or less.

The MPC has attempted to mobilise more collector crews in order to deal with the increase, but there have been multiple reports of bodies left for up to half an hour before a harassed crew can finally turn up. In the most dramatic incident, a fully-loaded van returning to the Regional Processing Hub collided with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. Many of the brains inside were badly damaged, vastly reducing the quality of both their processing power and the afterlives of the dead. The driver of the collector van had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Whether this will cause a processing shortfall in the future or not remains to be seen. Some argue that the drop in average brain efficiency will be offset by the influx of brains entering the facilities, while others assert that there will undoubtedly be problems in the future. These will possibly take the form of fluctuations when the fatalities might be expected to have occurred through natural causes. The MPC has made no official statements on the matter.

Meanwhile, Xenophon will not be answering any more of my questions today. Like his unfortunate comrade, he has fallen asleep. His next shift starts in only three hours, so I leave the bar as quietly as I can.