The End

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The End

Postby Atomic » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:29 am

Inspired by http://wapsisquare.com/comic/feel-better/

“Ladies, may I introduce Edward Clarke, currently serving a life sentence for murder, and...”

“Let's make this simple, people. I want to die and you're here to kill me. What next?” Ed Clarke stared at them from his cell bunk, sitting, slumped forward with elbows on his knees. His baggy, watery eyes took in the view of two vampires standing next to Warden Thacker.

“Ed, don't interrupt. There are formalities to be met and we can at least be civil.”

“Oh yeah – come in and see if your eyes bleed. Any bleeding? Good. What next?”

Lily Pratt edged into cell 556 and squatted to look Ed in the eyes. They were pale green and foggy from cataracts. “Nope – no bleeding, so it confirms you are guilty of murder.”

“Whatever. Couldn't prove crap 50 years ago and I sure can't prove anything now. So when do we get started?”

Suzie McBride spoke. “As the warden said, there are some formalities first. That we do this at all, we do it right, and that includes doing right by you, Mr. Clarke.”

“Just call me Ed.”

“OK Ed. Warden, do you confirm for the record that this is and has been Ed's home for at least a month?”

“Yes. He arrived at this facility 28 years ago and has been right here for the last 15 years.”

“Noted,” said Lily, “but I don't see much in the way of decorations or personal items.”

“Cataracts. What am I going to do – put up a poster and appreciate how nice the blue splotch looks today? I got nothing.”

“All right then warden,” said Suzie, “this part looks good. We've paperwork to complete, but basically we can be back tomorrow to make things happen. That work for you, Ed?”

“Do it.”
Last edited by Atomic on Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The End

Postby Sgt. Howard » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:55 am

BUDAPBUAPBUDAPBUDAPTHATHATHATHAT'S ALL, FOLKS!!!!
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Re: The End

Postby Atomic » Wed Aug 12, 2015 1:00 am

More to come, by the way...
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Re: The End

Postby Dave » Wed Aug 12, 2015 1:22 am

Atomic wrote:More to come, by the way...

Good. I do hope it includes the traditional end-of-day, end-of-the-line ritual... the playing of "Taps". Somehow, that seems as if it would be doubly appropriate in this situation.
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Re: The End

Postby Julie » Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:32 am

Color me intrigued. :) I look forward to the next installment.
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Re: The End

Postby Atomic » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:41 pm

“Warden,” said Suzie, “Lily and I are here today to see to the death of Edward Clarke, at Clarke's request. Formally, this is a suicide, but we are the method. Full execution protocols are in place and you are to have the required people and supplies in place. Do you certify you have met state requirements and are ready now?”

“Yes. Dr. Pradesh is the attending physician, Captain Grove is the security team leader. The execution chamber has been stocked with the items you've requested and the standard supply as well, minus the lethal agents.” Warden Thacker coughed a bit, then pulled out his pen to sign the documents. Captain Grove and Dr. Pradesh did the same. “We moved Ed here yesterday after our meeting. Ed wasn't fond of it, but it's protocol that the last day is spent in the Execution Block. He's made his farewells to other inmates and had a last meal for lunch – chicken soup.”

“All right then,” said Lily, as she placed the documents in her valise. “Suzie and I will change and meet you at Ed's cell. He's the only one here, right?”

Captain Grove answered. “Yes, but he's had two team members around all night and this morning in case he wanted to chat or whatever. Reverend McKay is with him now.”

“Very well,” replied Suzie, and the two went off to change. Dr. Pradesh went off to the chamber, while the Warden and Captain went to Ed's cell. Guard Morton remained to escort after they'd changed.

“Ummm, wow!” Bob Morton mumbled quietly, trying not to appear shocked. He was. Suzie and Lilly were now dressed in black silk kimono robes, cut to mid thigh, and wearing flip-flops. Even in the harsh industrial lighting of Death Row, the effect was striking.

“We try to be pleasant,” Lily smiled, “and it helps things go smoothly.”

A short flip-floppy walk down the echoing hall later, they were at Ed's cell. Bob joined the other five guards with Captain Grove, the Warden took his position outside the cell door, and everybody got an earful from the ongoing Ed vs Reverend McKay debate.

“...And I said knock it off! You've been trying for eight years to find out where the bodies are, and I DON'T KNOW! If your path to the Kingdom of Heaven is paved with blackmail, nuts to you!”

“Edward, the Lord looks favorably upon those who face and confess their sins...”

“Warden, will you tell this jerk to shut up? I've had enough of his blather. He thinks Thessalonians is a new Greek restaurant. Why don't you go read up on wagon tongues, McKay? You might enjoy yourself for once.” Ed Clarke leaned back in his chair and smiled. It was the smile of a tired, angry man who thinks he just won something.

“Hi Ed,” said Lily and Suzie almost simultaneously.

“Oh hey, ladies. Thanks for coming. Maybe McKay here will run screaming into the night. At least somewhere away from me!” Ed laughed at bit. “So – time for the show, eh?”

“Yes, Ed. Just one last bit of paperwork to sign,” said Suzie. “This certifies, in front of witnesses, that you are requesting death by exsanguination, and that you request Lily and I to perform this act upon you, unto death. Do you agree?”

“You drink, I die. Yes. It will be the most useful thing I've done for anybody in nearly 50 years. So yes, where do I sign?”

Ed signed the paper, the Warden, Captain, McKay and all six guards signed as witnesses. Lily and Suzie signed as “Agents.” Lily put it in her valise and they were ready to go.

Captain Grove motioned to put the manacles on the prisoner for the final walk, but Suzie demurred.

“Ed will walk with us," she said. “It's good.”

“Oh yeah, like I can barely walk at all. Rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, missing three toes from gangrene and diabetes, and I'm damn near blind. Yep, just going to leap up through a skylight and vault over the wall. In your dreams, people. In your dreams.”

Lily and Suzie helped Ed out of the chair and held his arms as he hobbled out the cell and down the hall.

“This is nice – what is it? Silk?” asked Ed.

“Yes,” answered Suzie.

“Damn. The things I gotta do to get a hot date around here.”
Last edited by Atomic on Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The End

Postby GlytchMeister » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:30 pm

BHAHAHA!

Gallows humor done right!
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Re: The End

Postby Sgt. Howard » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:10 pm

??? He is NOT guilty of the murders in question? But guilty of murder, no doubt... otherwise, the girls couldn't... did he kill the killer?
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Re: The End

Postby Atomic » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:37 pm

As the parade began down the hall, Reverend McKay began reciting the 23rd Psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd...”

“Oh, shut it McKay. I've got more faith in these two than I've ever had in you.” Ed stopped and turned to face his annoyance. “I swear, you got your collar with a coupon and a hand full of cereal box tops. Just be quiet, OK?”

Warden Thacker waved away Reverend McKay, who retreated to the end of the guard team.

“Oh – while I think of it, did you two ladies review the case file?”

“Yes, we always do,” answered Suzie. “Like I said yesterday, we want to do right by you.”

Ed stood apart, hands on hips. “OK, two questions then – what was the cause of death?”

“Unknown. The bodies were never recovered,” answered Lily. “Two bloody knives were found and considered the murder weapons. There was blood all over the kitchen.”

“Good, good. Who was the last person to see my wife and daughter alive?”

“Joanne Summers, about 10:30 at the market that morning. It seems they had words,” Suzie replied.

“One last question – what was Joanne's maiden name?” Ed smiled and cocked his head.

“I don't recall seeing that,” said Suzie. Lily shook her head.

“Fair enough. Just remember that in a small town, everybody is kin.” Ed swayed a bit, and reached out to brace himself on Suzie's shoulder.

“Forty eight years, two prisons, six wardens, and nine preachers, all of whom had my soul as their highest concern, of course. Then again, I've been stabbed nine times, so maybe there's something there.” Ed turned around again, and put his arms over his escorts shoulders. Lily and Suzie put their arms around his waist and they all resumed a slow walk toward the chamber.

“Lily – may I call you Lily? I like your hair.”

“Of course, Ed. Lily and Suzie will be fine,” answered Lily. Suzie leaned forward and smiled at Lily. Things were going well. This would be a good day.

“I was a quarry man – stone cutter and all – all muscle and such when I got in. Twenty six years old. Naturally, I was instantly the target for whoever wanted to prove something, so fights a-plenty. Once word of my conviction settled in, I was on the wrong side of all the gangs, and that made me a bigger target. So, whenever somebody new showed up and had to prove themselves, I got stabbed. Pincushion, they called me. Still do, I think, just not to my face. I got too old and stopped caring about them, so they got bored or something. The last 10 years have been decent more or less.”

Ed was quiet for a while as they turned the corner and went down the hall to the chamber.

“And all because I married the woman I loved.”

He didn't speak the rest of the way.

Dr. Pradesh and a guard were at the execution chamber door, and they entered with the Warden and Doctor. Suzie guided Ed to sit in the chair, while Lily surveyed the room.

“OK, ladies,” said Dr. Pradesh, “supplies table with various gauze packs, a rack over here with towels, two stools, mop with bucket and water, basin and water jugs, and of course, your chair. The other standard medical supplies are next door in the anteroom.”

Warden Thacker was next. “The blinds are closed as this is a private function, and there is no audience attending. We understand you will proceed alone and will not be disturbed. Is everything otherwise in order?”
“Yes, it is. Thank you, warden,” answered Suzie. “Ed, do you have anything else to say to anyone else here?”

“No, thank you.” Ed was looking at the floor.

-- Spelling edits only --
Last edited by Atomic on Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:28 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The End

Postby Dave » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:06 pm

Sgt. Howard wrote:??? He is NOT guilty of the murders in question? But guilty of murder, no doubt... otherwise, the girls couldn't... did he kill the killer?

That's how it sorta feels to me. He figured out who killed his wife and daughter... and there's some sort of family relationship involved... and he killed the killer and the killer's body was never found (or the murder wasn't traced back to him).
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Re: The End

Postby AmriloJim » Sat Aug 15, 2015 11:52 pm

Dave wrote:... and he killed the killer and the killer's body was never found (or the murder wasn't traced back to him).

"And his cheatin' wife had never left town
That's one body that'll never be found
You see little sister don't miss when she aims her gun."
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Re: The End

Postby AnotherFairportfan » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:20 am

AmriloJim wrote:
Dave wrote:... and he killed the killer and the killer's body was never found (or the murder wasn't traced back to him).

"And his cheatin' wife had never left town
That's one body that'll never be found
You see little sister don't miss when she aims her gun."

"Goodbye Earl".

...and a song that would been perfect for Johnny Cash.. (Griff (John Thomas Griffith, Cowboy Mouth guitarist). who wrote it, is a long-term acquaintance.)
He had done a good job of covering his tracks, but that was to be expected. After all, one does not conspire to ruin a House and murder a queen and then just stand there waving and waiting patiently for retribution.
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Re: The End

Postby AnotherFairportfan » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:22 am

Dave wrote:
Sgt. Howard wrote:??? He is NOT guilty of the murders in question? But guilty of murder, no doubt... otherwise, the girls couldn't... did he kill the killer?

That's how it sorta feels to me. He figured out who killed his wife and daughter... and there's some sort of family relationship involved... and he killed the killer and the killer's body was never found (or the murder wasn't traced back to him).

"Maiden name"? His sister, i assume.
He had done a good job of covering his tracks, but that was to be expected. After all, one does not conspire to ruin a House and murder a queen and then just stand there waving and waiting patiently for retribution.
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Re: The End

Postby Atomic » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:00 pm

Reverend McKay attempted one last prayer and was told to piss off. Warden Thacker saw McKay and the others out of the execution chamber, then turned back for one last look. Lily was standing by Ed in the chair, and Suzie was at the door.

“It will be a while,” said Suzie. “We'll let you know.” She shut the door.

“OK Ed, everybody is outside now, so it's just us,” said Lily. “Nobody to bother you, and I hope you can relax a bit. We want you to be comfortable. Like Suzie said yesterday, we want to do right by you.”

Suzie stepped out of her sandals and hung her robe on the corner of the towel rack, then went to join Ed at the chair. Lily did the same with her robe and sandals, got two towels, put them on the stools, then moved them to face the chair.

“Ed,” began Lily, “This is a salon style chair, the type where folks can lean way back to get their hair washed and such. We can adjust the arms and foot rest if you want, just say so and we'll do it.”

“Thank you Lily, but this is fine. I apologize for being so grumpy earlier. Those people annoy me.” Ed shifted a bit in the chair and let out a sigh. “What do I need to do now?” he asked. His voice was weaker than before. He squinted. “Umm, excuse me, but did you change clothes? You were wearing something dark a bit ago.”

“We're nude, Ed,” answered Suzie. “Not to be unpleasant, but it makes things easier to, ah, tidy up, when we need to. And it helps take the edge off things.”

“Well phooey on cataracts then!” Ed chuckled. He squinted some more and said, “May you never have back problems!” He smiled. His voice had some energy again.

“Anyway Ed,” said Suzie, “I – we, want you to know that from here on out everything said is absolutely private. Yes, we're vampires, yes, we're here to end your life. But, we're also federal agents, and if you have anything to say about anything at all, now is the time. If there is something we can do for you, something we can investigate, this is the time to let us know. Even if you don't want us to act but just want to share, that's fine.”

“There's no hurry,” said Lily, “This isn't about vengeance, or validation, or confession. There's no need to comment if you don't want to. You don't have to talk about anything at all if you don't want. But there is one thing we do want to hear from you.”

Lily and Suzie spread out the towels on the stools and sat down, facing Ed. "The final decision to act rests with us,” said Lily. “So Ed, please tell us – why do you want to die?”

Ed settled back into the chair and gripped the arm rests. He swallowed and looked at them.

“I wasn't expecting that question,” he said. He brushed back what was left of his hair with a gnarled hand then rubbed his eyes. “What to say, what to say.” He leaned back, looked away and put his hands in his lap. Then he looked at them again.

“Shall I rage, rage against the dying of the light? Shall I thump my chest and recite 'Invictus' to preen my ego? Shall I shake my fist like Ahab at his white whale god for the cruelty and injustice of the world? No.”

Ed shifted forward in the chair.

“Because I accept my fate.”

Lily and Suzie sat silent, waiting for more.

“In 1959, I was just another dumb East Texas cowboy who's daddy's business took him over the line into Louisiana from time to time. And there I fell in love with a Cajun girl named Marie. Five foot nothing, solid muscle and full of spunk. She, her daddy, and her brothers hunted alligators, among other things. Dad knew her family, Mom wasn't too happy, and her folks had some thoughts. Sandy haired white boy marrying a tawny brown Creole woman with frizzy hair in the land of the Klan. When we sat down and mapped it out, her family tree included Choctaw, Ouachita, Spaniard, French, Irish, German, Negro, and more. She was everybody. She was American. And the people in her area looked for good people, not the 'right' people. So we fished around for a church and got married that fall on my 18 ½ birthday. Texas wouldn't do it and we had to get around the Catholic issues in Louisiana. Oh, well. The wedding service was in French.”

“Needless to say, the folks of Rockaway County, Texas weren't too happy at who I brought home, and the St. Bien Parish Klan made sure the local pinheads knew what was up. The couldn't do much locally cause the Cajuns shot back. But now Marie was out in the open.”

“A year and some later, we moved up to Altus, Oklahoma, and I got a job with a quarry there. I was thinking with the Air Force base nearby, the folks there would be more kindly to outsiders. Wrong. Instead of living in a shack in East Texas surrounded by crabby rednecks, we were now in a shack in Southwest Oklahoma surrounded by crabby Cherokee who sure as hell didn't want another damn cowboy around.”

Ed leaned back, resting on one elbow. “June was born in 1962. Things were going pretty well for us. We were part of the community, sort of. People didn't know what to make of a itty-bitty black woman who could and would deck a six-foot blowhard in one punch then cuss him out in French. By 1967, June was five, I became a foreman at my job and was working on getting my blasting certificate. Then Marie tried to register June for Kindergarten.”

He leaned forward, elbows on his thighs. “You'd think by '67 all the hippie peace, love, and rainbows stuff would have filtered down and made the world a better place. That's what they were yapping about. Well, it didn't. One day I came home from work and found the kitchen covered in blood.”

Ed took a few deep breaths through his nose and looked down. “And that's all I'm going to say about that.”

-- Spelling edits --
Last edited by Atomic on Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The End

Postby AnotherFairportfan » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:12 pm

Rockaby County, huh?

Is there an acfual Rickaby Ciunty?

That mix you've described sounds more Creole than Cajun.
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Re: The End

Postby Atomic » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:49 am

Lily and Suzie were both surprised. All of the other prisoners they'd serviced spent this time either blaming others or crying over the past. They all wanted to die to inflict some moral injury on someone else – to show them they were still in charge, or something like that. But not Ed. The two looked at each other, then back to Ed to study his face.

“So now I'm in prison for life,” Ed continued. “My first years were a lot of angry, stupid fighting. I married a black girl, making me a traitor to the white gang, an interloper to the black gang, and an obscenity to the Mexican gang for killing my wife and child. Eventually, my retreat was to the library.”

“I had always loved math, so I studied. It was mentally far away from what surrounded me. I got as far as differential equations in Calculus before I found another interest: reading. A magazine had an ad for The World's 100 Great Books or some such. It listed them by name, and I copied the list. I started reading some of them and that led me to others. No, I didn't understand them all – some were just great stories, some made no sense to me, but some I could relate to. Tolstoy, Hemingway, and so on. I read Leaves of Grass, I read the Hitchhikers Guide. You get the idea. And I made it a point to get through the Bible at least every 3-4 years or so. Made it eleven times before my sight went. That's part of my problem with McKay. Oh, well.”

“Then I found books on art, and it got me. I stared with pencils and then watercolors. Of course, somebody would fight me along the way, and I'd lose everything and have to start over with earning privileges again. But the next set of paintings would be better.”

“For some reason after 20 years I was transferred to this prison, and started from scratch again. Fights, yes, but stabbings this time, too. I was 46 then, still in good health and reasonably strong, but this was ridiculous. Very deliberate, too – always from behind, always anonymous, always somewhere that wouldn't kill me, mostly. The shoulder, the arm, the leg, the rump – you get the idea. Number seven cost me a kidney, though, and I was held separately for a year to recover. That's when I found music. Specifically, Johann Sebastian Bach.”

“Bach's music were the mathematics I loved come to life. I painted again, and studied books on music. Not that I could play anything, but to understand the structure – the skin, bones, and muscle that makes music a wonder... to me, anyway. And there I found in a book on Bach his dedication for his works: Soli Deo gloria – Glory to God alone. He put the initials SDG on all his works. That was his purpose.”

“I was well past 50, in prison for life, surrounded by people who actively hated me for various reasons. The stories I read had many a tale of some plain person finding some great purpose or having it thrust upon them by opportunity. What was my purpose? I had learned you can judge a man by his failings, by his successes, by his behavior, or by his aspirations. What of my life then?”

“From time to time I've helped tutor others in math, or offered an neutral ear to the bitch-du-jour to let another blow off steam. But, that's about it. So here I was recovering from surgery, knowing that I would be going back into that snake pit someday soon, and fully expected to get bitten again. What was the point of doing anything? Why bother painting at all – who ever would see it?”

“Now I had an answer. It didn't matter – none of it. I remembered reading an art book on Buddhist sand paintings. The priests would spend days making a table sized image, one grain of sand at a time, admire the finished product for a day, then wipe off the table top. It is an exercise in transcendence and mortality. The image is gone but the memory remains. And so, I accepted my fate.”

“From that day my only prayer has been that God grant me memory, that I might paint my family. And I have done so since. It has been my only aspiration.”

Ed shifted in his chair a bit, looking blankly into the distance. He sighed, smiled, and continued.

“The next time I was stabbed, I just lay down. No fuss, no whining, I just lay down. Same again a few months later for the ninth attack. I didn't care. That was about 15 years ago and I haven't been bothered since. I guess I made myself boring.”

“Now please understand I'm not trying to make myself out to be some noble monk, studying among the heathens or such vain, self-serving delusions. The question was why I wanted to die, and I'm answering why I accept my fate. It's because it's time, really. Churchill made the comment that every man has the opportunity to do some great thing, and how sad if at that time he's unprepared. What great thing could I ever hope to do? What modest thing? Any thing? I'm 74 for crying out loud.”

“I lost a lung to cancer six years ago, and now it's in the pancreas. I only have four months left, tops. Or, after two heart attacks, the third one might be the charm. I could go on, but you get the idea. I'm being told it's time to fold my tent and come home. I'm ready. When the warden told me of your, ah, services a few months ago, I said yes. It's that simple. And so you're here, and thank you for coming. I accept my fate. I'm ready to die. And what modest thing can I do? I can treat you to lunch.”

Ed leaned back in the chair and rubbed his neck. He was smiling, head tilted slightly.

Suzie and Lily looked blankly at each other, mouths agape. “Ed,” began Suzie, “I'd like you to know that your words have been completely unlike anybody else we've dealt with ever before. It's... it's surreal, actually.”

“What Suzie is trying to say,” interjected Lily, “is that by this point in the process, people have usually been anything but calm. Almost nobody has come to terms with their choice like you have. This is a surprise to us.”

“So let me get this straight,” asked Suzie, “In summary, your life's ambition is to be a Douglas Adams suicide cow?”

Ed laughed at that one. “I see your point and basically – yes! Considering what time I have left, it's the only ambition I have a chance of reaching. How many men want to mean something to somebody, to be useful to another? Well, I can be useful to you, and we both benefit from it. Lunch is on me!”

Suzie choked back a nervous giggle while Lily closed her eyes and gritted her teeth to stop from laughing. Ed was smiling at their attempts. They regained their composure and looked at each other. They nodded.

“OK Ed,” said Lily, “We'll proceed. One last decision for you to make though – Strawberry, cinnamon, mint, or vanilla?”

“Huh?”
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Re: The End

Postby Sgt. Howard » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:04 pm

I don't know that I could kill him, were I in their position... I belive him to be innocent of what he is accused of, for one thing.
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Re: The End

Postby GlytchMeister » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:26 pm

Sgt. Howard wrote:I don't know that I could kill him, were I in their position... I belive him to be innocent of what he is accused of, for one thing.


At this point, it's not about killing him.

It's about allowing him to die, and to serve some sort of good purpose in death... Better to die doing something good than to... endure... while accomplishing nothing.
Even if that one good purpose is giving lunch to a couple of nice vampires.

It's also a bit of a mercy kill. He's got pancreatic cancer. That sh*t is gnarly.
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Re: The End

Postby Mark N » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:33 pm

GlytchMeister wrote:
Sgt. Howard wrote:I don't know that I could kill him, were I in their position... I belive him to be innocent of what he is accused of, for one thing.


At this point, it's not about killing him.

It's about allowing him to die, and to serve some sort of good purpose in death... Better to die doing something good than to... endure... while accomplishing nothing.
Even if that one good purpose is giving lunch to a couple of nice vampires.

It's also a bit of a mercy kill. He's got pancreatic cancer. That sh*t is gnarly.


I agree with you on all your points. I have watched my grandmother waste away from Pancreatic cancer and it is at the top of the crap parade. A quick and painless end would be preferable to the slow way.
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Re: The End

Postby Atomic » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:12 am

“We have an analgesic cream to put on your neck,” explained Suzie. “It comes in four flavors, smells nice, and eases any sting you might feel.”

Now it was Ed's turn to laugh. “Sure beats a crowbar to the temple! Oh my – which do you prefer?”

Lily shrugged, but Suzie replied, “I'm fond of cinnamon, if you don't mind?”

“OK then, cinnamon it is!” said Lily. “Ed, let me help you get your shirt off, and then we'll get the chair sorted out.

Suzie got the jar from the valise and helped Ed rub the cream on from jaw to collarbone. Lily checked the supplies table next to the chair, then positioned the stools behind the chair.

“Ed, we're going to recline the chair in a bit,” said Lily, “but we need to buckle you up first. One waist strap, like a seat belt, one across your ankles, and one across your chest under your arms. I don't want you to feel trapped. This is so you don't accidentally roll out of the chair when I put the arms down.”

“Makes sense to me,” answered Ed, folding up his shirt in his lap. “I appreciate your letting me know what's going on. Yes, I'm a bit apprehensive, and my poor eyes don't help any, but I'm trusting you and I'll do what you say.”

“Thank you, Ed,” said Suzie. “We truly appreciate it as well. Now, let's tilt you back a bit and see how you're doing.”

Lily and Suzie put the chair back about half way and raised the leg rest even with the seat. Lily pumped the chair height up, and then adjusted the straps.

“Not too tight?” Lily asked. “You can move your arms however you're comfortable.”

“Just fine, thank you,” answered Ed. He closed his eyes and sighed. His hands were in his lap, holding the shirt. “The cinnamon smells nice.” The shirt was a rope, stretched tight between his hands. He swallowed and took some deep breaths.

“Ed, I'm going to help support your head as the back comes down.” Lily sat on her stool and put her left arm behind Ed's head, guiding it to her shoulder as Suzie lowered the chair back to level. “There! We're cheek to cheek, and I'd like to put my arm around you on your chest.” Ed nodded. She felt his warmth and heard him breathing. She smelled the cinnamon. She reached out with her right hand to move the table closer in case she needed something, then adjusted the stool for comfort.

Suzie took her place on the stool to Ed's left and put her hands on his forearm and shoulder.

“Ed,” said Suzie, “we're ready to begin. But even now, you can say no. We want to do right by you, and this is your choice. So – once again – do you want us to end your life?”

Ed opened his eyes and stared blankly at the fluorescent light above him. “Yes, ladies, I want to you end my life. It's time for me to die, and thank you for it.” As he closed his eyes a tear ran down the side. “May I make a final request?”

“Of course, Ed – what can we do for you?” asked Suzie.

“Lily, may I hold some of your hair?”

Lily and Suzie exchanged puzzled looks. Suzie shrugged.

“Sure thing, Ed! Here ya go.” Lily scooped up her dreadlock ponytail and draped it over his chest. Ed let go of the shirt and felt about for the hair. Finding it, he let his hands lay open upon it.

“Thank you, Lily.”

“You're welcome, Ed.” Lily's cheek was wet from Ed's tear.

“OK Ed, here's what's going to happen,” began Suzie. “Lily is going to drink from you, and in a minute or two, you'll faint. I'll tilt the chair some so the foot end is higher, and I'll drink too. Then a while longer and your heart will stop. You'll be asleep, and that will be the end. But that's all. We won't do anything else to you. Your body will be laid to rest according to your wishes you gave earlier. And even now you can say no. Do you understand?”

“Yes ladies, please proceed. Bon appetit.”
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