Author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr
SummaryIt's into the future and cures have been discovered for all sorts of the illnesses and death itself. Edward Wehling is waiting in the hospital waiting room as he awaits his wife to give birth to triplets. Few people had children nowadays as population controls restricted it and Edward by societal standards is also considered young at age fifty-six. He notes the room's decoration and a man painting a mural of a garden. The artist is displeased with it as it implies a perfect garden to which he seems dubious about. A passing orderly remarks on the effort and the artist explains it and also how it is quite far from representing life. Displeased with the artist's responses, the orderly tells him to call directory number for the Federal Bureau of Termination, the place one calls to end one's life. The artist explains he would prefer to do it himself, as messy as it would be. A woman approaches from the FBT's "Service Division" and notices the artist. She asks about how her department is to be depicted and the artist continues to make light of the picture and its representation of the world. Doctor Hitz comes out and begins chatting with the woman and tells her about the triplets that were just born. She is excited about this asks if volunteers have been identified. The doctor says that they had at least one but still needed two more. When the woman asks about the father, the doctor says that it is Wehling, who is sitting there to both their surprise and ignorance. Wehling is not particularly excited as he must determine which of his babies must live if he cannot find anybody to volunteer to die. The doctor chastises him for his dark thoughts and Wehling assures him that he believes in the system but not when he must make such a harsh decision. The discussion continues further as the doctor tries to justify the situation and Wehling finally pulls out a revolver and shoots the doctor, the woman, and himself, making room for the triplets to live in the world. The artist watches this happen and attempts to pick up the gun but doesn't have the gall, so he calls the FBT and requests an appointment.
ReflectionThis is a regular theme for Vonnegut seen in other stories like The Big Trip Up Yonder. In some ways, it reminds me a bit of Bradbury in how it entails a certain amount of judgment about where the future is headed. It also has a bit of a hint of Harrison Bergeron in it's violent ending.
Short Story #303 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 10/15/2014
Source: You can read the full story at this website.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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