Apart from me, the room is empty.  Like I wanted it.  Even the most basic package comes with a choice of furnishings and media equipment with full access to a database containing, so it’s claimed, any piece of music or TV show or film ever recorded.  You can download an editing app to tailor a show reel to run the length of your ELD (estimated life duration).  A few have been leaked by hackers; the average length is around twenty minutes. The ones I saw were a cluttered mess of grabs and clips: snatches of choruses, historic sound-bites, comedy catchphrases, a few guitar solos.  Watching them gave me a headache as did any attempt to even starting thinking about what song I might want played.  Too many memories of what Jemma liked, I can’t remember what my tastes are.

I wander back out into the corridor to study the control panel.  Frank had asked:

‘Sleep or suffering sir?’

He’d asked it in a way he’d obviously asked it a hundred times before.  Even the basic sleep package comes with a few options.  Termination is ultimately caused by hydrogen cyanide, strong dose of around 2500ppm, takes no more than a minute.  If I push the green button and light the green light, when I close the door that’s what I get. Not pleasant but quick.  Or if I push the blue button and get the blue light and the green light, a secret recipe sleeping gas (rumoured to be straight forward nitrous and carbon monoxide), lulls me to sleep first before my lungs are burned crispy.  And then there’s the red button.  Referred to in chatrooms as ‘the hell-light.’  This is for those who want to suffer before they die.  Who are, I suppose, punishing themselves.

The hell-light gained notoriety after a spate of posts made by someone claiming to have worked here as a cleaner.  They had sneaked in a camera and their photos had sparked a meme one Spring.  One of the pictures, the only one not featuring someone having scratched their own eyes out, showed a cyanotic teenage girl so overcome by horror that she had apparently strangled herself.  Social media was alit with copycat images of people with chalk on their face ‘blue-lolling’ in evermore outlandish places.  And then the girl in the picture had been found by one of those TrueMedia evangelicals and the hoax was exposed.  Never-the-less, the red button was wondered about and apparently rarely pushed.  Others suggested it just made the room smell bad for a few minutes, caused the heating to rise, then thump.  In fact most people, if you scrolled down to where the chats began, actually thought there was only the green button. The red and blue were just lights for the legend.  Who, after-all, was going to complain.  Shutting the door was a contract, the point of no complaint.

I reach up and push the green button.  The green light comes on.

I move to the threshold and turn around, one foot in the room, the other still in the corridor.  My left hand on the door, my right hand on the wall.

After showing me how the controls worked, Frank and told me I was alone in this section so could take my time if I so wished.  I wondered if that was true.  How long would I be allowed to linger?  If I was rushed, would that be coercion?  Certainly all was quiet, only distant industrial sounds murmuring beneath me.

I enter the room.  All of me is in the room.  If I push the door firmly shut, in less than a minute I’ll be dead.

I shut the door.  I die.

I don’t notice the ending of my metabolism.  I remember a smell, then my physiology ceased.  But my mind carried on.

Drifting in space, I turned to see my body.  I was aware it must be falling but it moved so slowly it looked to be still; off balance, pale and lifeless.  Static.