'A Confession (Postscript)' by Jo Bromilow
My challenge was simple - I am a medical man, a clinical person and possessed of an incredibly inquisitive and curious mind, and in an age where man feels he can overcome any challenges, I was intrigued to pit the parasiticly resilient human spirit against the sheer overwhelming terror of modern existence that occupies us.
My subjects (there were five in total - two male, three female, ranging in age from 17 to 89, one regrettably a mother of young children), sadly, all succumbed to the phantom illness which I planted in them - a dual illness combined of despair and hope. Between them they selected varying methods to bring about their demise, from the benign and delicate (sleeping pills) to the Bronteian (exposure to the elements) to the not entirely surprising old age. But die they all did.
Frustratingly, I feel the youngest may have survived - I interpreted that wild, animalistic run that unfortunately juxtaposed with the trajectory of a car with faulty breaks, not as headlong into death but headlong into life. The jubilant sprint of a creature clinging to life, running for the horizon. The parasite I tried to awaken. Cruelly aborted. Perplexingly unresolved.
And thus, my experiment is deemed a failure, and all those who know me and my work regard me as a devil. Deserving of the fate that awaits me. But they misunderstand my purpose; I never meant to be the devil. I merely showed the subjects the path that led to their own destruction, asked them to map their own fate. I nudged. But I did not push. I did not kill them.
I do not classify my experiment as a failure. It is notable that all of my patients, regardless of the fact that they succumbed, chose to take control of their final moments. I did not wish them to kill themselves; that was not my intention. I wished to see how they would deal with the news they all thought that they wanted to hear. It comforts me to know that, as so many people pass through life afraid of the end, delaying it, five individuals took the hand of the Reaper and calmly walked into the Hereafter. I feel that that is what I gave them, what I gave the world. A second look at the inevitable.
Therefore I conclude my experiment, and my practise. I am no longer a doctor, nor am I a free man. I am the nation's most hated individual. And yet, strangely, I feel like I have given it the hope it needs.
I remain inquisitive, optimistic, and hope to find peace.
Dr F A Lacey, 24th October, 2011