Flash Fiction – “Crisis”

Cognizant of the bristling fact she remained in breach of Reform for two years, Bestie perched uncomfortably on the examining table while the doctor scowled at her medical record. The Crisis of 2050 had the population screaming for Reform. It was now 2058 and Government persisted in cracking down on citizens refusing to follow weight mandates.

Bestie’s physician glanced up from perusal of her file. “Ms. Forward, I don’t think you will be surprised at what I am about to say.” Bestie said nothing. “You previously received three warnings for obesity. You are forty pounds over the forty-pound leniency threshold. By law, I’m afraid I can’t treat you any longer. Also, you haven’t paid the fines.”

“I can’t afford the damn fines!” Bestie retorted, exasperated.

“And yet you are able to afford your obesity somehow.”

“Healthy food is astronomically expensive. If I can’t afford to pay fines, how am I supposed to afford food you approve of?”

“Lab nutrition is affordable and available at every food-selling store.”

“It tastes like cardboard.”

“Sacrifices must be made. You, apparently, have not made any in the past year.”

“Well, I’ve maintained my weight and didn’t gain any. Please just give me the waiver and I’ll try the lab food this time.”

“Unfortunately, there is no prize for maintaining obesity. You have placed yourself in an unfortunate situation, Ms. Forward. There are no more waivers. There are no more fines. You have exhausted all band-aids available to you.”

“What does that mean? Are you threatening me?”

“No threats, Ms. Forward. I have already notified the local chapter of Healthcare Examiners for Licensed Liberty about your case. They should arrive shortly.”

“HELL is on their way? Please. I can lose the weight. I admit, I could have tried harder. I’ve been…lazy. I can change. I will change.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Forward. I gave you every opportunity to follow the Program. This Great Nation cannot afford further gluttonous drains on healthcare. This was preventable.”

“You have no right to sit there with self-righteous arrogance and tell me what I should weigh. What kind of doctor are you?”

“We are past philosophy and activism, Ms. Forward. The Crisis of 2050 changed everything, and to answer your question, I am a doctor who follows Reform.”

“When did this country become a fucking tyranny?” Bestie wished she had paid attention to the news about Reform. She kept to herself and only saw her doctor when she needed her anti-depressant refill. She preferred not to listen to political vidcasts and didn’t read e-news. “But my blood pressure has always been great, and I rarely get sick. I only take medication for depression.”

“Your blood pressure is what got you the waivers. Studies show that exercise can help with depression. When was the last time you exercised, Ms. Forward? Do you exercise?”

“This is harassment.”

“As I thought. I’m afraid the Government is no longer providing medication to citizens who refuse to comply with Reform.”

“Are you kidding me?”

A woman entered the room with a name tag that read Dr. Eva Cross, Healthcare Examiners for Licensed Liberty. She gave her colleague a pointed look, then turned to Bestie.

“Ms. Bestie Forward. Your license for liberty is hereby revoked due to failure of assimilation to Reform. Here are your options: One, sign a waiver for gastric banding surgery. Two, sign a waiver for the weight loss work program. Three, euthanasia.”

“This is insane. I’m leaving.” Bestie slid off the table and stalked toward the door. A pair of tall, muscled men blocked her way, and Bestie felt the sting of a needle jabbed into her arm. Dr. Cross depressed the plunger quickly and stepped out of the way.

“Ms. Forward, which option do you choose? You have thirty seconds until unconsciousness, giving me control over your advance directive rights.”

Bestie was already groggy. Whatever medication the evil bitch had administered was fast-acting. Who would inform her daughter, Roni? As a nurse, would she agree with this perversion of justice? Ironically, Roni had voiced her concerns about the inevitable consequences and Bestie had brushed her worries aside. Freedom had vacated the building while Bestie had lingered in quiet denial.

Bestie couldn’t handle the work program: a brutal two-year commitment of toiling in factories and farming communities for twelve-hour shifts. Most of the job was spent standing with strict ten-minute breaks every two hours. Meals consisted of lab nutrition. She might survive the gastric banding surgery. She opened her mouth to reveal her decision, but warbled nonsense found its way out. Bestie’s eyes bulged in horror as paralysis overcame her. Now Dr. Bitch would have final control over her life. How had it come to this? The darkness took her.

Dr. Cross held another syringe up and wiggled it back and forth. “I guess she won’t be needing the antidote. Time of death is 15:37. Since the work camps are overfull and surgery requires an unhealthy drain on precious resources, this was the best outcome for all.” She walked out. The two men placed Bestie in a body bag, then transferred her to a hospital bed and wheeled her out to a waiting ambulance.

Bestie’s physician rose and departed the examining room. He passed a nurse preparing to tidy up for the next patient. The doctor whistled a happy tune and meandered down the hall to another room. He knocked briefly, entered, greeted his next patient, and closed the door.

(Image by Foundry Co at Pixabay)

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