Apr. 18th, 2011

The thing started, as such things usually do, in a bar. Really, the percentage of troublesome things that have their beginnings in bars is too high to be ignored; places that sell alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption ought to be made illegal, except for the fact that so many people would then go insane.

Death and Taxes were sitting in a bar enjoying a quiet drink together. They had a sort of a private two-person club thing going, because of all the Supernatural Beings and Societal Forces in the universe, they were the only ones that could boast any degree of certainty. Pestilence? Significantly likely, particularly in certain squalid and ignorant corners of the globe, but increasingly uncertain owing to the advance of modern medicine. Avarice? Also a high probability eventuality, but with the rise of altruism in the richest one percent of humanity, not a certitude. Authoritarianism? Global Warming? Teen Sex? All these things have been, and will continue to be, strong bets. But Taxes and Death were certain, absolute locks, as agreed to by common sense and adage, and that made them special. It was only natural that special people would be drinking buddies.

Death raised his glass – a tumbler full of something dark and swirly, that had been chilled to a few degrees above freezing – and proposed a toast. "To us," he said somberly, "the only certain things in the whole wide world."

"I'll drink to that," agreed Taxes readily, clinking Death's drink with her own – A highball glass full of fruity liquid swimming around perfectly stacked ice cubes, and garnished with a toothpick spearing three gold balls. "We're the only things the cosmos can truly rely upon."

"Oh, no doubt," interrupted a stranger, who rather rudely pulled himself up a chair at the table. "I, for one, am glad to know you guys can be counted on like clockwork." The stranger wore a hood that concealed his features, a fashion styling that Death found rather passé.

"But, you know," cut in another stranger, sliding into another seat at the table, "I confess I've always wondered something." This was a woman with a long, flowing silk scarf masking her face. Taxes thought it was a rather overwrought accent, but was too polite to say so.

"What I want to know," continued the female interloper breathlessly, "is of the two of you – Death, Taxes – which one is the more certain?"

"Oh, my!" cooed a third stranger – another woman, this one wearing a full burkha, which was a somewhat exotic wardrobe choice at a bar. "This sounds like it has the makings of a competition!"

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