Harry was one of the billions of male children who had never been born. His parents, Emily and Ronald Tranter used to say that if they ever had any children, the first born boy would be called Harry. But they never did have any. Neither boys nor girls. And to clear up any lingering ambiguity, they were childless.

And so Harry was snatched out of oblivion without consultation. Not that he had any say in whether he was born or not.

And yet a voice called out to the non-existent Harry and asked him this question: “Harry, would you like to have been born?”

Harry paused in his wanderings and gave the matter some thought. “What are the benefits?” he asked after an indeterminate length of time.

“Of being born?”


The voice hesitated. “Let me think,” it said. “Give me a few relative minutes.”

Harry resumed his wanderings, thinking nothing at all.

A light year or two later, the voice disturbed Harry again. “You could laugh and eat nice food and travel around the globe and meet people and fall in love and have children and make friends who shared the same hobbies as you and you could follow current affairs and you could watch television and join Facebook.”

“Is that it?”

“Well, there are endless variations on the things that would bring you pleasure.”

“And pain?”

The voice cleared its throat. “Well, as with every investment, the market in pleasure can go down as well as up and your capital could be at risk if you…”

“No thanks,” said Harry. “And please don’t pester me again. I have unsubscribed.”

He wandered off again, but not consciously, and oblivion closed around him like a comforter.



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