Short Fiction: Grim Business

“Good morning Ma’am.”

“…Good morning.”

“Oh, don’t be alarmed—I’m not here selling encyclopaedias and I’m not here to talk religion. I work for a company called Finalsleep, and I’d love to find out how our services could benefit you. I’ll just ask you a few quick questions if I may.”

“Uh… Okay.”

“Fantastic. My name’s Declan.”

“Doris.”

“Ah! Like Doris Day—beautiful. Well, it’s wonderful to meet you Doris. Could you tell me, do you own this house?”

“Yes. I’ve lived here twenty-six years.”

“Twenty-six years? That’s something. And do you live alone?”

“Yes, it’s just me on my own these last eight years, since my Harold died.”

“Oh, I’m sorry for your loss. Do you like suffering?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Human suffering—do you like it?”

“Suffering?”

“Like children dying of starvation. Is that something you enjoy seeing?”

“Why no dear, I don’t.”

“Uh-huh. How about high unemployment rates—is that something that makes you happy?”

“No. That doesn’t make me happy at all. Is the unemployment rate high?”

“And with murderous gangs roaming the streets—do you feel safe?”

“Oh, no. That’s dreadful.”

“Right. Well, Doris, I’m hearing your concerns, and I can tell you there are many other people who feel the same as you. You’re someone who understands it’s a bleak, miserable, dangerous world out there.”

“Uh, I suppose…”

Crime is through the roof, taxes are exorbitant, disease is rampant—”

“Oh, I’ve not been sick a day in my life, dear.”

“But who’s to say you won’t contract a crippling illness tomorrow and waste away in chronic agony? It happens every day. It could happen to you too, couldn’t it?”

“Well, yes—”

“And then there’s the ever-growing threat of nuclear war. Yes Doris, you’re right—the world is full of unbearable suffering.”

“Hmm. That’s not good.”

“Exactly. That’s where Finalsleep can help. May I come in?”

“Yes dear, please come in. I’ll make some tea.”

 

“Is this you and Harold here in the photograph?”

“Oh yes. That was our wedding day.”

“Doris, you look angelic. Harold was quite a looker too—the two of you could have been movie stars.”

“Ho-oh! I don’t know about that. My Harold was handsome, though. Here’s your tea, dear.”

“Thank you Doris… Ah! Delicious. Now, as I was saying, Finalsleep specialises in helping people cope in these uncertain and evil times.”

“Is it a counseling service?”

“In a way. You might call it an advanced type of therapy, guaranteed to take away pain, suffering and worry.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely. Doris, I’m talking about quality of life enhancement through personal termination.”

“I don’t think I follow you, dear.”

“Well, for those like yourself who are against suffering, we offer suicide assistance. Euthanasia.”

“Suicide?”

“That’s right. Since assisted suicide was made legal, it has been remarkable to see how many people want to escape this life—many without even realising it!”

“Really?”

“That’s right. And Finalsleep caters to you, with service and prices that are the best in the industry. This brochure shows some of our most popular options.”

“Okay. Uh-huh. Fast, friendly service. Money back guarantee. Hmm. That’s good to know.”

“You’ll see here our standard options: shooting, hanging, strangulation.”

“And who performs these services?”

“I do. All our standard options can be done right here in the comfort of your own home. I’m fully trained in all the Finalsleep methods.”

“I see. Fatal Allergic Reaction—that’s interesting. Have you tried any of these yourself?”

“No, unfortunately company policy prevents me from using the services myself, but I can tell you Finalsleep has never received a customer complaint.”

“That is good. Oh my—Beaten with a Milk Crate.”

“Yes, that’s one of our boutique assisted suicides.”

“It’s very expensive.”

“Yes, it’s something a little more extravagant for customers who prefer that, but, just between you and me, you get exactly the same results from the standard options.”

“How much are the standard options?”

The prices are laid out here at the bottom, but here’s the beauty of it Doris—there’s no up front charge.”

“No up front charge?”

“That’s right. You have a will?”

“I do.”

“Great. That’s smart. What we do is, we allow you to use a percentage of what inheritance you leave through your will to cover the payment. All the paperwork is pre-prepared—let me show you. There’s a lot there, but basically you just sign the final page here and it’s all done. You don’t need to worry about a thing.”

“That’s good.”

“Now, have you seen an option you like?”

“There’s so many to choose from.”

Heroin Overdose? That’s a popular one.”

“Ooh, I don’t like needles.”

“Right, probably not then.”

Gas explosion. I don’t think so—I have sensitive ears. Buried Alive… Crushed by Heavy Machinery… Impaled. No. Oh, what about this—Failed Parachute. That sounds fun.”

“An excellent choice. We can organise that right away. Just sign here Doris, and we’ll get you out to the airfield. Everything okay?”

“It’s just… I’m not sure.”

“Well there’s a cooling off period, so if at any time in the next thirty days you’re not completely satisfied with your suicide, just call this number here and we’ll cancel the contract, no questions asked.”

“Oh good. Yes, that seems reasonable. Where do I sign?”

“Just here… that’s it. Fantastic. Congratulations Doris. If you’d like to make your way out to the car now… that’s it. Let’s get you free from suffering.”

 

© 2018 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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