We both signed our forms in large, clumsy letters and handed them over. It was the only legal act still required to be spelt out on paper and signed in handwriting: The Death Wish, the only escape from the endless cycle of Rebirth and Rejuvenation.
Thirty-eight years later, our bodies were long past the point at which they would—normally—have been replaced and recycled. I decided to end it, then and there.
“We did it. We grew old together.” There was no need to say any more. We had talked about this moment, long and often.
You don’t take luggage on your last journey. We arrived at the rooftop in time to see the sunset, a sight now seen far too rarely by anyone. When the first towers were built, they offered the most amazing view, the almost black sky above, the earth curving away, thinly veiled by the athmosphere. Now it’s all just metal, concrete and fog.
Nowadays, almost no one ever goes to the roofs, except for those who come to jump. There were a few, but they kept to themselves. Dying is a very personal experience, even after you’ve done it a dozen times.
Twelve hundred stories is a long drop.
I woke up in the Tank and began inspecting my new body, female this time. Small, sturdy butches were all the rage lately, so I had chosen to be tall, slender, feminine. It works better when you stand out.
I pushed the button. The fluid was drained and I started to breathe air again. I checked out at the reception, but—as always—refused to disclose my former identity. Only one thing knew whom I had been: the Core, the central computer managing all those deaths, resurrections, reformations and changes. It is a dumb machine, a leftover from the old days. No one would have it any other way, it is tried and true technology—the only piece of equipment on which all our lives really depend. Artificial Intelligences make our lives easy, but you cannot trust a machine that is smarter than all of humanity combined. The Core can be trusted because it has no will, only programming.
And somewhere in its database I am marked as suicidal. Barely anyone remembers what it once meant, because only a few of us remain: the few old enough to remember the time when death was so common and life was so precious you were not allowed to end your own.
The Core would just silently disregard all my Death Wishes, forever.
I’m not suicidal any more. I have a hobby now: I am a murderer. And every murder is perfect, because no one remembers that concept either. Sometimes it takes thirty-eight years, but I’m patient. Compared to eternity, thirty-eight years is not so long.