One Last Meal
by Olivia Hofer
Note: A small piece. An idea I've been meaning to explore but haven't yet.
I’d woken up for the last time.
I’d gone to bed for the last time.
How much had I already done for the last time without noticing? They really ought to warn you about this sort of thing.
“Make your choice, inmate.” The guard scowls at me.
Back when times were simpler, we’d be able to request one last meal. Bacon, eggs, maybe some pulled pork, or a steak topped with garlic butter. Those times are in the past, though.
We still get one last meal, of course, but it’s a virtual one—our physical bodies cross into the afterlife with grumbling, empty stomachs. Much cheaper for the government, and, they'd concluded, not a violation of human rights because we aren’t actually aware of it.
Our minds are plugged into the perfect last day. We get to choose a time, a place, and who we wish to take along.
One last day filled with wonder and joy before it’s all over.
Death is painless. No syringe, no deadly cocktail, no electric shocks. We are simply terminated while our minds are distracted, having a good time. Definitely preferable to facing the mother of the man I killed while I die.
Would it make her feel better to watch me squirm in a chair? Would seeing the terror and regret in my eyes soothe her pain? I doubt it.
I shift, scroll, squint.
What do I want to do with my final hours? Be an astronaut and fly a spaceship? Ride a unicorn? Join a band of dwarves and slay a dragon?
I trace the covers of the virtual realities available to my prison. They own a surprisingly varied selection. I could climb Mount Everest or dive to the bottom of the ocean. I could visit Paris or Hong Kong.
I could do so much more than my old life ever offered.
The guard smacks the back of my head, and I flinch. “I’m not missing my coffee break for you, asshole.”
I keep it simple and tap the screen, selecting a restaurant with a cow logo before picking my family as companions.
One last meal in the company of my loved ones. Steak topped with garlic butter.
Slaying dragons will have to wait for another life.