I had clocked in at 10.30PM, with the first patient scheduled for a midnight procedure. Although as you’re about to find out, these people are anything but patient. I’m an attendant at the Requiem Solutions Private Wellness Centre, a medical institution developed by an illustrious billionaire who convinced the fledgling nation of Australasia that there was, what he called, ‘a problem with those losing to death in life’. To save you the suspense, yeah, I kill people for a living.
I found myself working as an orderly and attendant here over a year ago. I was fresh out of nursing school; somewhat convinced that I cared about the sanctity of life, but mostly, eager to escape the tedium of university. I was sure I was going to be posted to a public-funded hospice up north in one of the growing capitols, however, I ended up taking a position at Requiem- purely because it sounded so absurd that I thought I might find some enjoyment out of the work. Well, after a year in this shithole, I can confidently say that that was another stupid idea of mine. However, the work has been what you would call…interesting.
For the most part, the patients are overwhelmingly old people. People whose organs have been shutting down and whose faculties are more than a little bit fucked. These patients, the ones whom the RSPWC was founded to service, are called ‘Olds’. These are your bread and butter here as an attendant. Wheel em’ or walk em’ into the Op-Room, lay em’ down on the bed, put on some classical, swing, Grateful Dead, whatever they want the last stimulation fired through their neurons to be before they shit the bed; it’s simple work. Things started to get tricky once The Centre started taking the patients we call ‘Q’s’.
The Quitters aint looking for a knee-along from us like the Olds are. The Q’s are stopping the race with three-quarters in the tank and a hundred miles to go, but they signed the waiver and underwent the one week waiting period, so I just must press the button like a good little employee.
Between the Olds and the Qs I’ve witnessed over 1,044 deaths; Roughly 3 a day, for 365 days a year, minus 14 days annual leave and 3 instances where I was ‘sick’ or I was too hungover to take someone’s life. What began as morbid and then became mundane, is now bordering on absurd. But the midnight appointment which I am about to tell you about, by far, was the strangest, most disgusting, heartbreaking fucking mess I have ever witnessed.
I had just finished preparing the Op-Room, which by the way resembles a weird cross between a movie theatre and a regular hospital room. Dr. Sade, a real sicko if you ask me, came and gave me the briefing dossier on the patient who was to be serviced at midnight.
‘You’re going to have fun with this one Lee.’ He said.
‘Don’t I always.’ Sometimes you gotta play the sicko’s game if you want to coexist in a world of them.
‘The dosage is a little more potent for this one, something tells me he’s got a little more élan vital than the dregs you’re used to. Oh, and make sure you pay extra attention to his LR’s, it will make for a very interesting time.’
‘élan vital? With that bullshit coming out of your mouth you could almost fool someone that you’ve got a soul in their Doc.’
He smiles, ‘Almost, Lee, almost…’
He leaves the OR and half-sprints towards the breakroom. I pull out the dossier and have a peruse. He’s young. I’m looking for the little Q which Dr. Sade usually puts in the top left-hand corner but it’s not there. Perhaps he forgot. As I read on, the patient’s case became more and more questionable. No life-threatening disease, no recently deceased spouse or family, employed at an advertising agency and pulling in a decent income. Hell, I’d have traded places with this guy right there and then if I could. I checked my watch, I’d been keeping him waiting long enough. It was time for me to get a couple answers.
I was greeted with a handshake that was friendlier than most, especially given his impending execution, and I walked him into the OR and sat him down.
‘Now Mark. You’re here today to undergo a legal and completely voluntary euthanasia process. I’ll be your attendant today.’ I notice he’s irregularly calm, and in fact, giddy for his approaching death.
‘I just want you to give a bit of insight before we get started so that I, and the RSPWC, can understand full well why you have chosen to end your life.’
He took no more than a second to deliver an answer.
‘I’m here because I want to die. Simple as that. And I think that should be about all I have to say, because it’s my life and it’s my death.’ I’d heard that one before, maybe this guy was a Q after all.
‘Right, well I agree with you on that Mark, it is your life. But this facility is not yours, therefore if you’re going to take your life and disappear into your death with our equipment, the least you can do is give us a little something to chew on. Agreed?’
He took a deep breath. ‘Okay Mr. Lee, agreed. I am here because your institution offers me full control over my experience of death. Call me crazy but I’ve been wondering how I’m going to die for quite a while, and it has always frightened me that I could be killed or die in a way that I don’t have so much as a second to reflect or even consciously process that I am about to end. Here, I can have the freedom to experience my death with one hundred percent mental focus, and hopefully gain something positive from it…Does that fulfil your requirements, Nurse?’
It was at this point I realised that I was dealing with more than a Quitter, I was dealing with a freak. But, when you’ve killed as many people as I have, you tend to just get on with things.
‘You know what Mark, that works for me.’
I ran through how the process would work. He would lay in the bed and be administered the chosen dosage of lethal anaesthesia, I would run the projector or music or whatever last entertainment he wanted to see, then I would take his body down to recycling and that would be that. He took it very well. I remembered what Dr. Sade had said and checked the LR’s in the dossier a second time. His last request, was to do what I called a Huxley. I was to inject him with, as well as the anaesthesia, a dose of the powerful hallucinogen Dimethyltryptamine. I’d only done one Huxley before, and the result was less than interesting since the Old carked it well before any of the hallucinogen began to take hold. It still baffled me that any of this was above board legally speaking, but when your company is run by a billionaire with a stranglehold on the testicles of Parliament, I guess these things just sort of go unnoticed.
When it came time for the procedure I had a strange feeling. It was policy to give the patients a last-minute chance to back out in the form of a stupid speech along the lines of ‘ugh, you know this is permanent, right?’. This time, I gave no such speech. I plugged him with the double dose, hit play on the telly, and waited for the metaphorical guillotine to fall.
Now what made this procedure so memorable, other than what I have said so far, was ole’ Mark’s selection for the telly. The Olds all had family photo montages, or those more reclusive souls had something calming like old re-runs of The Nature Channel. The Q’s had some depressive music which in some way helped justify their compulsion for suicide. But good ole’ Mark had something different in mind.
The first minute was a black screen bearing the words, ‘IT’S TIME MARK’. A little foreboding, I thought at the time, but whatever. Then I looked down from the dossier (I usually would skim over it again until the procedure was finished), and I saw that this time the Huxley was most certainly underway. And there he was, the pure embodiment of the hedonism which my society has come to advertise. His eyes were wide as dinner plates as his consciousness was hurtled through space, his hands down his pants; the television playing a mashup of Mozart’s Requiem and a rather raunchy clip of a tall blonde being ridden into the ground. Right at that moment, Dr. Sade opened the door and exclaimed:
“Dear fucking GOD! There’s someone who knows they aren’t going to heaven!”