I put this up here with three requests of decreasing importance:
1. Spread this far and wide across the web. The more I am read the better. Being read matters more to me than anything else.
2. Give me honest feedback. This is the first piece of fiction I have ever published. Be cruel, be kind but above all be honest.
3. Pay me what you think it is worth, if you think it is worth anything.
If you cannot afford to do that then pay me what you can.
The knock was forceful, insistent. The occupant of the house scurried down the hall, slipping his coat on in an effort to afford himself the carefully cultivated dignity he prided himself on. He swung the stained glass door open to find the serious, somber face of his friend, the recently promoted Minister of Health Care.
“Good morning,” the occupant said, “this is rather early.”
“Good morning. I am here on official business.” The minister replied heavily.
“Of course. Now that the Euthanasia bill has passed and the new ministry has been established I imagine you must have a lot of paperwork to sort out.”
“Definitely.” The minister agreed, “You see how it is. You campaigned so hard for Euthanasia. You convinced enough of the public that it was in the greater good to reserve expensive and essential health care for those who contributed the most to society. The greatest good for the greatest number and all those fancy philosophical arguments you used.”
The occupant laughed, “Utilitarianism is the word you’re looking for.”
The Minister smiled, “Yes, utilitarianism. What I admire about you is that you hold controversial and, some would say, outright psychopathic views because you truly believe in them, not because it makes you seem edgy.”
“Thank you.” The man replied, “I take it you’ve come for my help?”
“In a way.” The Minister replied, “Let me just say again how grateful we are for your strenuous efforts in convincing enough people that this is right thing to do.”
“How can it not be? There is not enough health care and services, not to mention money, to support these people wasting a disproportionate amount, especially since they are never going to add back into society the amount currently being used to keep them alive.”
“I’m glad I can count on your continued support.” The minister said.
“So what do you need my help with? Do you want me on the review committee?”
“Not necessary. We have the actuaries all over it. They have been comparing health costs to projected tax revenues all week. Already they have identified six thousand units that need removal.”
“Of course.” The man agreed, “I am not big with numbers. So what is it you do need me for?”
The Minister reached into the pocket of his coat and removed a simple, white envelope. “My friend, what we need from you is help with public relations?”
“Always ready to be of assistance to the government.” The man replied,
“That’s what we like to hear.” The Minister replied, “Otherwise it would have made this very hard.”
“Would have made what hard?” The man replied, his face innocently reflected in the glass coffee table.
“I regret to inform you that the Department of HealthCare, Euthanasia and Aging Review Panel for the Continuous healthcare expenditure has found that your need for a transplant is not sustained, and further that the costs of continuing your health care far outweigh the benefits to the public utility of keeping you alive.”
The man slumped back forward in his seat, color seeped from his face into the coffee table. He grabbed desperately at the Minister’s coat.
“But I was the one who convinced people that Euthanasia was right.” He cried, sliding from his chair onto his knees
“I know. That was your past contribution and we’re very grateful. Your name will go down in history. However, there is nothing more you can contribute to society. You are not a tradesman, or a laborer, or a scientist, or a cook. We have advertising and marketing experts who can help us spice the message up for the public. You are not qualified for any position within government.” The Minister’s face softened, “I am truly sorry, I am. But you must understand it’s for the greater good.”
“But I make people think. I challenge their preconceptions.”
The Minister sighed, “And the types of people who urge others to question authority are just the sort of people that are not valued by any government. You convinced others that society ought to come before the individual and in your case I am afraid society is asking you to do what’s best for the rest of us. It’s nothing personal you understand? And like I said, there is still the final matter of publicity I need you to help us out with?”
The man’s eyes glimmered with hope. “Anything,” he begged.
“We want you to be first person to voluntarily undertake euthanasia out of utilitarian necessity. And look happy about it. We need you to show others how good it is. How you’re doing your duty for the common good. How it isn’t really murder, but it’s about doing what’s best for society. Isn’t that right?”
(c) 2013: The author retains copyright and permits reproduction so long as due
acknowledgment of T.G.R White’s authorship is granted and a link back to
the original material is included within the reproduction. No permission for commercial
use is granted without prior written consent.