The entire building appeared empty when Jason arrived and he knew most of his colleagues at The Frazer Agency were on vacation for the holidays, but he decided the ten-story climb would at least feel quicker than the elevator and maybe even sober him up a bit. He was exhausted after running up the empty stairwell, panting on the landing outside the office. All he had to do today was show up and glad-hand the clients while his assistant Brad took care of the presentation. After last night, Jason felt like his music career could finally take the next step and he might be able to escape this agency hell once and for all, but he didn't want to sabotage any of the work.
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Dr. Wagner looked at the laptop monitor to find an image of Dana laying on a rock as the beeping of a monitor next to his right ear signaled her slow but steady heartbeat. He turned towards Dr. Jones with a smile and sheen of wonder growing across his face. He said quietly: “it’s working.”
Without any signal from his colleagues, Dr. Chan reached over to switch the IV drip to the second, lethal mixture. Before he got to it, Dr. Jones looked in horror and yelled “not yet!” as her arms lunged towards him.
Dr. Chan was confused and a little frightened before Dr. Jones immediately calmed down and apologized. She searched for the right reason and darted her eyes to the right, giving a light bite to her bottom lip. “We just want to watch the picnic play out for a minute.”
Concerned but once again politely deferential, Dr. Chan stepped back and waited. Dr. Jones had leaned over to watch the monitor with Dr. Wagner as she whispered “I can’t believe it’s going so smoothly.”
Dr. Jones walked over to the door and propped it open a bit, sticking her head out to invite Dr. Little in. “Showtime.”
Dana sat alone in the sterile room, antsy to get this over with yet savoring her final moments prior to the procedure. More than any other time she could remember. A pen was flipping through her fingers as she had quickly completed the endless stack of paperwork that now sat next to her on three separate clipboards. After recording a video, which she assumed was to remove the hospital’s liability, they told her it was for research purposes only and everything still had to be in writing. She couldn’t have flipped through and signed or initialed any faster, but every page had the same title plastered in large bold letters to ensure it was impossible to ignore: “VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA; NO PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS.”
A deep sigh came over Jason as he pulled off the highway onto route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no matter the location. His hometown had tainted similar places through memories of loneliness, frustration, and undeserved yet expected sympathy. Due to this small-town avoidance syndrome, he had missed housewarmings, weddings, and most family gatherings over the years. But for Jason this felt like a worthy sacrifice to maintain a comfortable distance from his childhood. Anxiety was an easy excuse to turn around, but he knew this time must be different. It was unavoidable.