GERIATRIC FARMING III

1/11/2019

Deep in a northern Texas reservoir, resides the carefully contained second element of the Periodic Table: helium. The second most abundant ingredient in the universe, but rare on planet earth, this gas has a multitude of tasks and applications. It is used in cryogenics, pressurization testing, welding, and rocket fuel tank ullage that is designed to force the fuels out of their containers in near zero gravity. It is also is an asphyxiant. In sufficient quantities, it replaces the atmospheric oxygen and will cause death to organic life that requires that vital element. In the GREEN ACHE-ORS facility, during the construction of the residents’ rooms, they were made gas tight with just the right amount of leakage, like door undercuts, to prevent pressurization that would cause barotrauma or lung rupture. All tenants and their immediate families were given precise instructions that this “exiting strategy” existed if they so chose to use it. Painless and effective, the injected helium would replace the atmospheric gases in the room containing about 21% oxygen and panic free unconsciousness would quickly ensue. Ten minutes in this environment would guarantee death with no retrievable medical intervention to bring the patient back. Unassisted Suicide. Sid Miller remembered all of the procedures given to him when he entered the institution. If he forgot anything, the TV was there for a refreshment course. After Nurse Amy was summoned to remove the TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO LIVE plaque above his door, everything hinged on Sid’s decision to inject the helium. He first listened to his favorite music as all his “funeral pictures” were displayed on the monitor. When they repeated, Sid hit the fail-safe button and the gas silently filled the room. When his Donald Duck voice materialized as he sang along, he contemplated aborting the procedure. Sid stood firm in his conviction. Ten minutes later, Sid Miller no longer was a resident of Planet Earth.  

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