What can bring a person back from the dead?  In my experience, the history of narratives tends to obsess about methodology. The question becomes: How can a person be brought back from the dead?  But this misses the point.  Stories about ‘how’ always end up being about energy.  Sometimes physical, sometimes ethereal; sometimes electrical, sometimes spiritual. Ultimately it’s all the same thing.  Reignite a system at rest with potentials, kinetics and proton gradients and you have something that looks like life.  This is not motivation.

Other narratives despoil natural science and dress ideas in cloaks of mystical intent. Why a second party might wish to reanimate a corpse is a different question with answers easy to come by or invent.  But distilled to an individual’s battle with themselves, it is different. At least it was for me.

I remember an urge to remember.  To capture my final moments in detail:

The room has four sides.  The wall opposite the door is curved as if once it contained a bay window.  The sort that Jemma liked in those Chelsea mansions, the flats we couldn’t afford.  This room, of course, has no windows.  All surfaces are smooth.  The lower wall tiled in clean white, the upper wall plastered then painted industrial magnolia.  The only feature is the metal door with the viewing hatch that’s bolted shut on the other side.  The floor is industrial linoleum; I recognise the design from the hospitals where they kept her.  Stains blend into the grey and pink swirls, an offensively warm, creamy marble effect.  It’s fitting that this is the room where I’ll end my life.

The events that led me here are tragic, certainly, but not necessarily in the way you’d expect.   I’ve always been more practical than emotional, which is why I chose the company that keeps this room.  Unlicensed suicide suites are nothing new, of course, even with the dawn of legalised euthanasia.  Like any government regulated service, the bureaucracy of death simply isn’t conducive to desperate acts.  Even in the most obvious of circumstances, as I found with Jemma, if you don’t have the documents you don’t get to die. It requires call centres and secretaries and emails, complaints, meetings, agreements, vetting, counselling.  Nine months of additional, needless pain Jemma had to suffer because of low level short staffing and mid-level inefficiencies. But she wouldn’t let me kill her, despite her knowing full well my intentions.  And she couldn’t kill herself.  Because these places have only one rule: enter the room and shut the door yourself.  That’s it.  Anything else can be laid-on, for a price. However you want to do it, just ask and pay.  But you have to do it.  No murder.  If you want that, save up for an assassin.

I have chosen the basic somnolocide package.  All I want is the clean-up.  I’ve made my last stand.  I recall the shiny catalogue with more options than a new German car.  Day packages, week packages.  The complex has suites on the upper floors that can be hired for months if you care to sign over that much of your estate.  Personal interment specialists can be allocated to design your final package length in 30 minute increments, should you wish. And as this is a criminal venture, nothing is unobtainable. If you have the cash to pay upfront and provide enough notice for particularly difficult items, your final days can be the best days of your life.  Over and over and over again.  The basement is less glamourous.

My welcoming party, Frank, was polite and efficient.  His job was to show me where to go and how the buttons worked and nothing more.  My account was already validated.  I knew I was free to leave but if I did, that was my cycle complete. Should I want to come back it’s a whole new package, another payment in full.  It’s said that people have lost vast fortunes this way, the power of choice becoming an addiction.  And like any dealer, the institute never asks and doesn’t care why you are here.  They just want to you want.  The authorities know, of course.  The practice isn’t discouraged mainly because of the significant kickbacks paid to law officials but also because it’s fewer mouths to feed.  The economy benefits from the taxes paid on rent and utilities, import and export of luxury items and jobs created in an otherwise bloody slum.  Everyone here is employed as either caretaker or cleaner, which ultimately is accurate anyway.