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February 20, 2021

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story called Algorithm. There was a section that I quite liked but, after umpteen edits, decided it was stopping the flow of the narrative. I didn’t want to chuck it away, but I didn’t have a home for it. It’s not a poem, not a short story, it won’t build up to be a novel. So I’m bunging it here:

Contracts! Clem’s neighbour had suffered the consequences of a binding contract. He was the ostensible winner of a competition run by a global HMO. The prize, as advertised, was the medical equivalent of eternal life, a guarantee from the HMO that the winner would never, ever die. Through his ailing seventies and eighties, he received the world’s best medical attention to stave off two heart attacks, four strokes, and three forms of cancer. Every time he closed in on death, he was scienced back to life. He was now 135 and he’d been on life support for 39 years. A Supreme Court judge ruled that, because of a stray Oxford comma in the original contract, he no longer had the legal right to die. Both sides would have happily dissolved the agreement and let him drift into a peaceful eternal sleep, but they were bound by the terms of the contract to keep him going against every instinct of nature. He was forced to carry on: withered, unresponsive, dead in all but fact.
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