the price


the price

He was chosen. He wasn’t sure why, but nobody ever did. The meaning was there. It was just arbitrary. He was chosen by a set of people, but this is just as random as being struck by lightning or hit by a vehicle. Life chooses for us. It is outside of our control. Finding the “reason” doesn’t change that. In fact, he was glad that he didn’t know.

He was taken to a damp room. It was a basement or a cellar, and the walls were grey cement. There was a bulb hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. There was a tiny string that hung from the bulb. At the bottom of the string, at eye level, was a small plastic ring. Possibly part of a toy. Below that, an old wooden chair.

“Do you know what this means?” they asked. He did, and there was nothing he could do now. He saw it coming for months. He tried to ignore it. He tried to escape. But he couldn’t. The debts were too high. His debt to society. His debt to his family. When he decided to stop caring, when he decided it was too much, they showed up. Right on time.

Were they philosophers? Artists? Sociopaths? Did they even need his body? Would his organs be taken? All he knew was that he could trust them. They had done this many times in the past decade. Some were high-profile cases.

On television, they talked about how they wanted to help. But they said there had to be a price. Nothing should come for nothing. They also never let you have a choice in the matter. They knew what was best.

“I know that I get to do something. I get… something for my life,” he said. “Yes,” they answered, “whatever you want.” So he asked that his family would be comfortable. That all of his debts would be paid. “Of course,” they said. His whole life he tried to make this happen, but now they would accomplish it in an instant. When they chose you, your dreams came true.

They gestured for him to sit. He sat down and began to think about life. Did it have any meaning? Would this give it meaning? Did this make him something? Or was there only nothing? While thinking, he felt the prick of the needle. A solution was injected into his neck. There was no warning.

There was a comforting coldness that spread throughout his body. Almost like someone opened the front door on an early spring day. You see the sunshine and hear the birds, and then a fresh, chilly air hits you. He started to lose consciousness. He found the door, and he went through it.