Andrew was only on his second week on the job. But he had already seen all kinds of people... young and old (but mostly old), beautiful and plain (but mostly plain), rich and poor (but mostly poor), men and women.
They always came as empty shells of humanity, the dregs of the drug-addled streets, jilted lovers, gamblers or stockbrokers who had lost everything (difficult to distinguish between those two types, though), people who had nothing to look up to, or look for.
People who wanted to die.
He did not hold any illusion as to his work. No fancy idea of an afterlife, a state of fullness, a flux of nothingness. None of the flowery language other Death Assistants used. He knew all this to be patent nonsense. It was a suicide clinic, nothing more. He was a dealer in clean, agreeable death - but death nonetheless, with all its finality.
One injection, pregnant with meaning, a last breath was taken, the coffin arrived, and that was it. After all, he could not let himself be attached to people he was going to kill.
Yet he could not help feeling a tinge of... romanticism ? He liked to take the last words of his patients. The Death Doctor of the clinic thought it was interesting. But the last words were not actually what interested him most. What he was most interested in, was the lost dreams.
He walked down the corridor and entered Sleepytyme Room #2, folder in hand. Before sitting down, he glimpsed the woman who was already sitting on the Chair of Execution.
A woman. Amelia Pyches. 21 years old. No adverse medical condition. It was a simple case, but, he thought, she was so young...
"Well, Miss Pyches", he started, and saw her for the first time with any attention.
She was a beautiful - how dare he ! beatific ! - woman with flowing blonde hair, and an exquisitely delicate face. Her soft eyes and high cheekbones made her look like an authoritative angel from Heaven itself. Her skin was as pale as a ghost.
"It's a...", he tried as his mouth was running dry at an alarming pace, "... simple injection process for you today ?"
"Yes", she said, simply.
"Allright. If you will please put your arm... in this...", he tried desperately to say the word "armrest", but he was feeling more and more uneasy.
"Are you allright, doctor ?", the woman replied.
Hearing her silky, enchanted voice once again was too much for Andrew. Something within him snapped. Something deeply buried. He had a compulsion to drop everything and, in complete incapacity to think, dragged himself to the back of the room, his gaze fixed on her, completely incapable of any coherent thought.
"This is why I want to die", she said. "Everywhere I go, people only see what I look like. They go crazy"
Not being encouraged or discouraged by a mortified and insane Andrew, she went on.
"I'll never be married because all that men want is my body. Everywhere I go, people want to rape me or take my body as payment. I am treated like an object. But I have a college diploma, but what does that give me ? Can you tell me..."
Andrew ran out of the room, shouting in mental pain, breezing past his boss, who could only look at him in puzzlement. He slammed the door to the latter's office. Amelia walked towards the older man in resignation.
"I am scheduled for a suicide at this moment", she said, "but it seems your doctor ran away. Is there anyone who could do this for me ?"
Roger Platt, the white-haired, rough but congenial head of the Clinic of Lost Dreams, looked at her for a moment. Shuffled. Then another moment.
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid that won't be possible"
"But I paid for this ! I want to end my life. Please kill me. Why won't you kill me ?"
"Once again, I'm terribly sorry. My assistant has, no doubt, gone a bit mad", he said, walking to the secretary's desk. "I shall have a word with him on it. I will not, however, kill you. But I can give you your money back"
"Very well. Then I'll kill myself, as painful as it may be"
The good doctor handed her the money, but looked at her with wistful eyes.
"I wouldn't recommend you do that"
"And why not ? I have nothing to look for in this life"
He wanted to say, "and nothing in the next either", but stayed silent, watching her as she left. He sighed. This business, he knew from long and painful experience, had its downs. He knew which ideal had broken down in Andrew's heart. And now he had yet another new assistant to try to keep from leaving.
No need to mention, Andrew never got to write down beautiful Amelia's last words. He still works at the Clinic of Lost Dreams, in the mean streets of New Zeal, injecting suicide cases. But he doesn't write down their last words anymore.
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