People used to die. It was in the history books—the old religious ones that nobody reads any more. Now, a death is a spectacle, an aberrance in the perfect, controlled system that is our society. "Who died" can be a topic of global importance for months after it happens, no matter if the person was just a farm-hand or a politician.
Why do we do this?
To most people, the answer is logical. We all want to extend our lives. Now we've just extended them to what amounts to "forever."
But that's not really why it's happening.
In the times of those old religious texts, there used to be way fewer people. I mean, you could take a generous dinner, and meet everyone in the world before you got hungry again. And, apparently, God knew that. So he set up this system before kicking the bucket and ending the "old times."
He made the Dead God.
The Dead God is what I call it, at least. I'm not in with whoever's in charge of this, but I have some theories as to who they are. I hope they don't have any theories about who I am.
Anyway, the Dead God is basically the last person to die. The second you kick it, boom, you're God. Then someone else dies, and the role passes on.
And everything they say about God—omnipotence, omniscience—you get it. The universe is yours to do with as you please until the next farm-buyer usurps your throne. Omnibenevolence, though… the original God, the one that set this whole business up, might have had it. But you aren't forced into some sort of moral code that takes away your options when the fateful moment comes. You're still you, with all the good and bad. Just with power.
So, God defined some rules back then, trying to keep the population under control. He split us into groups based on languages and skin color, figuring we'd kill just many enough of each other off. Wired us up with jealousy so we'd fight over things that didn't really mean anything instead of making our own. Gave us so many rules about when reproduction was and wasn't okay that a lot of people went crazy just tryin' to follow 'em.
Maybe God back then wasn't benevolent, let alone omni-. But it's a pretty depressing life to believe that someone who doesn't care about your best interests has all the power over you and every other speck of dirt on this bigger speck of dirt. So we all forced ourselves to believe that knowing everything might let you figure out what's best.
Anyway, we sort of forgot about God somewhere along the way. It was a circle: we forgot, because God was doing less, because each successive person got less time in the Big Chair to plan their acts, because there were more of us dying, because we had gone about fuckin' eachother more than God ever figured was possible, because we forgot.
A few of them figure out the perfect plan, the one thing they can do to get them a few more moments riding the wave. They create a likeness of themselves back down here, and stuff some of their mind into it. We base our calendar on one such incident. But the universe, that stuff the Dead God gets to play with, is only so flexible. He can't change the rules, just move the pieces around the board. So he can make a super-human, but not a God, or an Angel, or anything like that. He can make an immortal… but the next Dead God that comes along is usually so jealous of 'im that he strikes him down on the spot.
So how do I know this? The last Dead God, the last person to die (so you must know his name) was a friend of mine. He came back and told me.
Apparently, the Cult—that's what I'll call them, because I don't have a flair for names like some people—doesn't want the Dead God being someone with friends, with someone to tell. When he died, that was them screwing up. They want their own people dying, but with all the surveillance around here, there's no way to go about dyin' any more but naturally, so they just have to wait and get lucky on that stance.
But otherwise, they can figure out who's going to die—don't ask me how they do that part yet, I haven't figured it out—and, if they can't get them on their side, they make their life hell until they do (die, that is), so they'll be so spiteful at the world that all they do when they get up there is smite people and try to destroy the whole mudball.
Of course, it doesn't work—the moment they kill one more person (who isn't one of the previous Dead God avatars) their term ends, and that person's begins. The Cult are clever like that.
They also, of course, fund virtually all the pharmaceuticals research that's so "benefitted" mankind lately. They're the ones pumping man's lifespan up, so they can squeak in the door. And everyone appreciates it, generally. They're some of the richest bastards in the world—hell, if there weren't a God already, they'd be the closest thing. And that, I suppose, is their angle. They're already so close… so why can't they have it all?
Because I'm going to stop them, that's why.