Micah stared at the pamphlet in her hands, pretending to herself to be reading
it again. She sighed, tossing aside the brochure describing services at the
local elective termination clinic. In truth she knew the contents to a word, and
had made her decision long ago. The staff had been incredibly helpful, her
question answered when she first visited – a mandatory counselling session they
called it, but really a combination of information about the procedure,
encouragement to go through with it and a good dose of marketing for the
particular facility. All that actually remained after the waiting period was to
return for the final appointment.
She stepped into her shower contemplating the day ahead. “Might as well be
presentable for it” she thought, fully aware but even now not wanting to dwell
on the fact these were her last hours. She felt her pulse quickening, nerves
catching up with her as much as they had when she had signed up for the
population management program back in school. Silly to be nervous she thought,
it wasn’t really much of a choice. She inhaled the steamy air deeply trying to
calm herself. Far better to do this at a time and place she chose than when she
lost some hidden roll of the dice and found an order to report to a population
Of course there were also real advantages to volunteering. No negative control
board ruling could be held over her friends and family, no random selection
process would hang over her head, and she could put her affairs in order on her
own schedule. It didn’t hurt that an elective procedure was private, or that
insurance would pay afterward. Mostly though she knew her selection was
inevitable in any case. Her karma, as they called it, score was down, just like
her career, and randomization in selection was up. Shaking her head at this line
of thought she refocused on the hot water. The decision was hers, it was made,
and the shower felt good.
Leaving the shower she stared into her mirror; the picture in it pleasing her.
Dawdling over her hair she steeled herself again and wondered if she should
shave, almost laughing at the absurdity of the thought. There was nothing the
clinic staff or undertaker wouldn’t see soon enough, and she would be dead
anyway. Nor was there any use fretting over her appearance now. Nonetheless she
allowed the routine of her makeup to steady her nerves, and contemplated
clothes. Shrugging she grabbed a simple skirt and blouse. “Just like a job
interview, cute, simple, comfortable” she thought, collecting her things.
Briefly confirming her appointment she tossed her phone aside, it wouldn’t be
needed where she was going. She gazed at her small apartment. Not very much to
mark a life she thought. Realizing that her sister could take care of what
little was left she locked the door.
It was only a short walk to the bus, and the day was beautiful. Strange, she
thought, seeing everything for the last time yet enjoying it all. The bus driver
raised an eyebrow at the free one-way ticket but said nothing. Of course the
trip was provided by the clinic, far too much was invested in the population
management system to allow any barriers to elective procedures. The ride dragged
on, but she couldn’t manage to nap like on any other trip; her mind wandered
trying to take in everything along the way, unable to relax or focus on anything
Nearing her destination the bus had emptied out. Stepping off she could feel the
driver’s eyes follow her “you’re sure about this? I’m going back the other way
in a couple minutes” he said gesturing toward the city.
Micah nodded at him, “it’s fine” she murmured. Yes, she was sure. The
affirmation steadied her, even if she couldn’t quite stop her hands shaking. The
building was nondescript: an office with an unmarked entrance and a few stories.
The sort of thing one could find anywhere. Gripping the door she breathed deeply
– not much farther now. She remembered from the pamphlet that the procedure was
supposed to take less than an hour from arrival. The lobby and waiting room she
stepped into was sparse, looking much as any medical office. A receptionist
looked up in greeting. “Do you have an appointment? Or can I arrange an
“I confirmed my appointment a little while ago” Micah replied, her heart racing
again. She handed her identification to the receptionist who glanced at it,
tapped her screen and nodded.
“Take a seat and look these over. Make any changes and I’ll call for you in a
few minutes” the receptionist indicated, gesturing toward the chair lining a
wall and handing Micah a bundle of forms.
She nodded and sat. Looking at the forms she found a copy of the preferences she
had indicated during her previous visit. It took her real effort to pull her
eyes from the words “Consent to elective termination” but she skimmed the
documents. They were as she remembered and already signed when she visited last
week. She noted today as the effective date of her consent. Technically she
could still change her mind, but the decisions were already made, formalities
taken care of. Now the waiting period was over she just had to show up and not
back out. Setting the form aside she looked around the waiting room. Two other
clients, a pretty Asian looking woman and a scared looking man who couldn’t be
more than 25 sat at opposite ends of the room. The woman gripped a clipboard
with white knuckles, but a determined face, while the boy, as he seemed more and
more to her, looked as if he were about ready to run away. Feeling like an
intruder she picked up a magazine on the table next to her. Absentmindedly
leafing through it she couldn’t escape the strangeness of idly passing the time
while waiting for someone to come and kill her. In a room with others doing or
planning for the same no less.
She couldn’t say how much time passed – it certainly seemed an eternity. In
truth it was only long enough for a call confirming Micah’s arrival and the
counsellor to finish with a previous client. The receptionist called her name
and Micah looked up. “If you’re ready you can take the elevator upstairs,
Samantha will be waiting for you”.
The ride was short and the doors opened on a hallway. A short blonde woman in a
lab coat stepped up to her “Micah Richards? Wonderful to see you again.”
“Yes” Micah replied, recognizing the woman as the counsellor from her previous
visit. She was the counsellor who had advised her in choosing a termination.
Somehow wonderful wasn’t the word that came to mind, but the woman had been nice
enough, extremely helpful. Her name escaped Micah until she noticed the name tag
The woman smiled and took Micah’s package. “Just follow me.” She said smiling.
Samantha gestured her into a room Micah saw could pass for an exam room in any
medical office but for the gentle lighting and a full gurney against the wall.
Both women sat and Samantha flipped through the forms.
“Alright. Relax a minute, I just need to go over your selections before we get
started.” Samantha said looking straight at Micah, evaluating her client. Her
breathing was rapid and body tense but she was composed and seemed determined.
The job was going as smoothly as any ever went. She doubted anything would go
awry, it rarely did with volunteers, and it was a straightforward procedure
Micah had chosen. This was as utterly routine as any service the centre offered.
As odd as they seemed to Micah the euphemisms of the centre couldn’t have phased
Samantha less, in fact they were completely integrated into how she thought
about her job.
“I just need to briefly confirm that we will be carrying out the same the
procedure we discussed last week, as described in the package you signed then.
If there’s no changes we can get started right away, or if you have any more
questions please ask. We are here to serve you in whatever way you require.”
Samantha recited the familiar lines. Looking at the forms she continued “First
of all, you have consented to voluntary euthanasia as you decided last week?”
The past tense was important here, it was already done and finished.
“Yes.” Micah replied, feigning calmness but feeling butterflies in her stomach
like never before in her life.
“Good. We discussed an anal suppository last week. Is that still the method we
will proceed with?”
“I think so” Micah replied, her voice cracking. It had seemed intrusive, but
Samantha and the brochures described it as the best option. No pills, needles or
mess, it was supposed to be like falling asleep. “You said I’d just go to
“That’s right, it can take a few minutes, but you won’t feel anything once the
dose is administered. Just like going to bed”. Privately Samantha thought this
method was pushed mostly to avoid the training required for traditional
injections, but many clients seemed to prefer it, and it was effective.
“Ok, yes. Like we discussed.”
“And as to final disposition. Your remains are to be disposed discretely with no
memorial. Your sister will be contacted once the procedure is complete?”
Micah thought briefly and nodded. No reason to involve anyone now, it could only
make things harder, though she found herself wondering what would happen to her
body. Her sister could collect her things and close out the lease. What else
would she leave behind? Not even a pet.
“What does discrete disposal mean again?” she broke in.
“Cremation and disposal at sea usually” Samantha recited. “The goal is
efficiency, no need for any mess afterward, or for your contact to arrange any
details. It’s also the lowest cost service” she continued.
“Alright, cremation…” Micah trailed off, wondering why she had asked. Leaving a
body behind to clean up wouldn’t help anyone she thought, not wanting to dwell
on the idea of her own dead body or the nearness of her utter nonexistence.
“Then we’re ready to get started.” Samantha could see fear in Micah, but that
was to be expected. “You really are doing the best thing today. And helping
everyone you know.” Samantha smiled trying to reassure her client after what was
always an unsettling conversation.
The counsellor’s job was often seen as little more than an executioner, while
being advertised as a provider of honest advice. In truth carrying out the
procedures was the smallest part of the job and the advice was ultimately about
selling a procedure. Elective terminations kept population control’s cull
numbers in check, and low numbers kept the program popular. No one liked seeing
young people dragged off to their deaths, necessary as it might be. It was an
important job which Samantha liked and she was good at it. It was a real blow to
a termination counsellor for a serious client to back out late: so much so that
it could hurt her own odd’s next time she met with a population control officer.
Considering briefly whether she should restrain Micah she chose against. This
was always a gamble, it was technically the client’s right to change her mind
right up to the moment a termination began but fight or flight was a powerful
instinct and could make the procedure far more difficult. Counsellors could
suggest restraints if the client hadn’t asked for them. The problem was that
often the suggestion itself would drive a client into panic, anger or just out
the door. No, Samantha much preferred to keep things gentle if she could, as did
most of her colleagues. Encouragement worked so much better than force.
Samantha stood. “There’s a gown on the bed, you can use the toilet and change in
there.” she pointed at a door opposite the one they’d entered. “Empty your
bowels out and settle down on the bed when you’re done. I’ll be back in a
moment” she added, stepping out and locking the door behind her. Voluntary the
procedure might be, but the wheels were very much in motion. Barring an active
and clear demand the woman in the room behind her would be terminated shortly.
Consent had been given the first time they met and she had returned freely.
Backing out was very much discouraged now and meant to take far more effort than
going through with the procedure. The program demanded as much, even if it did
make some counsellors uneasy as to how truly voluntary consent was in the odd
Micah heard the door click and realized she was locked in. Odd, but it didn’t
really matter. She supposed they were giving her a few moments of privacy.
Taking the hospital gown from the gurney she felt herself trembling. “Just going
to sleep” she kept telling herself, but her whole body was as tense as it had
even been. She couldn’t shake the idea that this was the last room she would
ever see. That in only a few minutes she would no longer exist.
She thought through all the lasts of the previous days. Her last workday, last
newspaper, last dinner, last sunset. The last breakfast she’d prepared this
morning, having gotten up to see a last sunrise. The shower she’d enjoyed, and
the last clothes she’d chosen barely a couple of hours ago. The walk to the bus.
These thoughts had a been with her all week, a clock ticking down inexorably to
her end, marked by these lasts. She hugged herself, feeling the warmth of her
own body; still very much alive. As alive as she had ever felt in fact. Feeling
her breasts it struck her that she could have called an old boyfriend, added
last sex to the list.
But it was too late now, and it wasn’t like she had been keeping some ridiculous
checklist she thought, trying to snap herself back to the moment, a lump forming
in her throat. Settling on the toilet she focused on the task at hand, realizing
she hadn’t managed to use it in days. Nerves she supposed, her stomach tied in
knots even now. Thinking once again of lasts she supposed this would be her
final shit, and the thought jolted something loose. Fear rushed through her, not
for the first time, but more real than ever. It took all the effort she could
muster not to run from the room right then. More in fact, she stood in a sudden
panic, ready to leave and run from this place. Her stomach turned as she stood
however and she fell back to the toilet, emptying her bowels in a sudden messy
rush. Another last she thought, and let the feeling briefly calm her.
She needed to do this she told herself, and would never be more ready than now.
Doing it all over again would be utterly impossible. She thought over her next
few minutes and contemplated at least changing the method. It would surely buy
her a few more minutes of life and save having a stranger poke around inside
her, she was a long way from a fan of the suppository. But she hated needles,
and didn’t think she could keep pills down. Strangulation maybe? Even the idea
frightened her more than death itself. No, she had talked this all over with
Samantha before. It would be just like going to bed. And it wasn’t as if they
wouldn’t be poking around her body in a few minutes whatever the means.
She quickly wiped and cleaned herself, washing the tears from her face and swore
as her makeup ran. She reminded herself how little it mattered now, brushing her
hair into place. She began to fold the clothes she’d worn before shaking her
head at the absurdity and pulling the gown on. It left little to the imagination
and opened fully to the back, but the room felt cold and the gown helped a
Leaving the tiny bathroom while fiddling with the uncomfortably airy gown she
was surprised to find Samantha had not returned. She sat on the edge of the bed
and absentmindedly observed how oddly high it was. The easier for Samantha to
reach her she supposed. She lay back, trying to get comfortable, shivering a
little even in the warm air. She found it a strange sensation to be arranging
herself on a bed she would never rise from. The room was lit softly and kept
dark and she tried to let the purposely mellow surroundings calm her, but
couldn’t seem to relax. Her mind and pulse were racing. Damn it, where was
Samantha? Wasn’t this only supposed to take a few minutes?
Hearing the toilet flush Samantha had given Micah a couple of minutes to settle
down. This seemed a job best left unhurried. An appointment was scheduled to
take less than an hour but this one was going well and she had plenty of time.
She re-entered the room, the packet with the drug in her pocket. Micah was lying
on the bed looking terrified, her breath unsteady and hints of tears running
down her cheeks. “It’s ok honey, everything’s alright” she said gently, almost
at a whisper, squeezing Micah’s shoulder. The reassurance sometimes helped, but
she was only barely concerned by her client’s growing anxiety. It was to be
expected, and she had heard no indication of second thoughts.
Micah swallowed, a lump still in her throat, and let the words sooth her. She
inhaled unsteadily, butterflies again in her stomach. “It really doesn’t hurt?”
she asked plaintively though an unsteady breath.
“It’s just going to sleep, and we’re almost finished” Samantha assured her. She
pulled on a pair of gloves, careful not to startle Micah. She was as ready as
she would ever be now. Best to get it over with quickly. “Ok, roll away from me
onto your side” she directed. “And bend your leg up, toward your tummy.”
Micah turned herself over and felt Samantha guide her leg up. Somehow the
assurance that it would only be like going to sleep wasn’t helping anymore. She
sniffled a little and focused on the wall, choking down tears and trying to hide
the fear that was again overtaking her.
Taking the drug out of its wrapper Samantha rested a hand on Micah and whispered
“Now take a deep breath, I’m just going to insert a finger for a moment”.
Micah inhaled, biting her lower lip in anticipation.
Samantha gently inserted the capsule into Micah’s presented anus and quickly
pushed it as deep as a finger would allow. “There, all done”, she told Micah,
withdrawing her finger and pressing her buttocks together.
Micah gasped as the finger was shoved deeply and not terribly gently into her
and felt another jolt at Samantha’s sudden statement. ‘What did she mean “all
done?” She’d said it would be just a finger, surely there was more time. She
wasn’t ready yet…’ Her eyes bulged as she realised the drug was already in her.
She could scarcely believe it but she was dying.
Releasing her cheeks Samantha again rested a hand on Micah’s shoulder. “Ok, roll
on over and relax”. She sat on the stool next to the gurney and glanced at her
Rolling onto her back Micah grasped at the sheets, again feeling completely
alive, completely normal, and absolutely not ready to die. She tried to sense
any effect of the drug, and felt nothing, no maybe something. There was an odd
coolness and tingling in her lower body, barely noticeable. Her breath quickened
and she looked to Samantha, sitting calmly at her side. “How long? They said it
“Once you feel it you’ll be asleep in a couple seconds. It can take a few
minutes to take effect, the drug has to dissolve. No more than ten minutes.” She
“Oh god” Micah choked, continuing to whimper. “Please, stop. I’m scared now… I
don’t think I want this anymore”.
“Oh honey, it’s too late for that. It’s already done. You know this is the right
thing.” Samantha was aiming for sympathetic, the panic was understandable, if
frustrating. A predictable part of the job yes, but it wasn’t like she could
stop the procedure even if she were inclined to; the drug developed a lethal
dose quickly, even if it did take time for the anesthetic to take hold. The cost
of avoiding a needle.
“Please don’t…” Micah trailed off, gritting her teeth. She knew it was true, on
both points. This was her choice, and what she’d wanted. It was already done in
any case. She felt her head sink into the bed, settling her arms at her sides.
Staring into space she waited to die. She lay, it seemed for an eternity, still
tossing occasionally, unable to get comfortable.
Her body felt strange now. An empty feeling spreading from between her legs, a
tingling advancing up her limbs. She flexed her arms, which felt heavier than
they should. Controlling her breath was getting easier, her respiration slowing.
She felt her eyelids growing heavier, and a rush of adrenalin shot through her.
No, this couldn’t be the end. Trying to blink she struggled to re-open her eyes,
the room seemed darker now and she tried to sit, finding no strength in her
Samantha grasped her hand. “It’s best if you don’t fight it. Close your eyes and
sleep. Just sleep now.”
Micah choked a little. Unable to rise and feeling her breathing slow, it was now
a struggle to inhale. “No” she thought, not like this. She couldn’t breath, and
started to panic. They couldn’t just leave her to asphyxiate could they? She
tried to thrash, anything for a breath, but barely moved. Her bladder emptied as
she struggled. Clearly feeling the sudden warmth and wetness between her legs
embarrassment at wetting herself registered momentarily as her eyes closed for
the last time. Her head tilted to the side, but she was no longer conscious.
Soon her breasts stopped moving altogether and a little drool ran out the corner
of her mouth.
Samantha glanced at her watch as Micah gurgled, twisted slightly and stopped
breathing. She reached out and felt for a pulse, finding nothing and noted the
growing damp spot between Micah’s legs. Seven minutes. About right. Checking the
time since Micah’s arrival she saw the whole procedure had taken under forty
minutes. Standing up she quickly placed Micah’s clothes in a plastic bag which
she left at her feet to be collected later. She glanced around the room before
briefly contemplating the now lifeless body before her, it’s stark contrast with
the living breathing woman she’d been speaking with a few minutes before barely
A life ended cleanly, compassionately and efficiently; her job well done, in
other words, she thought to herself. And with plenty of time to wash up and
relax before her next consultation. Having finally thrown a sheet over Micah’s
body she locked the door behind her. There was no reason to move remains with
clients in the building, it could only upset them. Returning to her desk and
confirming the successful termination Samantha ensured that Micah’s remains
would be collected that evening. Micah’s sister, the other Ms. Richards, would
be contacted in the morning to collect her things. Samantha assumed after the
waiting period there would be little else in the way of affairs to settle. That
was the point after all. Not that it mattered, her mind was already on to her
next case, what to do after work and how to maximize her own karma score; she
certainly had no intention of submitting to one of her procedures.
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