He reviewed the files again, and after those the clock, then back to the files, back to the clock. The files told him exactly every reason why, and the clock told him exactly when. The boy should be there within the next five minutes. He looked out the crystal-clear window again, to spot a police cruiser arriving.
Yes. There he was. The doctor quickly glanced back down at the work and heard voices, something along the lines of:
“Hey, get these things off me!” A jingling sound came with the roughly said words.
A pleasant female voice answered it, if a little exasperated. “Certainly. Please come over here.”
He recognized the sound of a door slamming shut, followed by another. “Bye! I’ll sure miss you!” The first voice called out, coated in sugar, yet with a layer of sarcasm plastered on. The screeching of tires told him the car had left, and that the boy should be in any moment...
The doctor -if one could call him that- looked up from his papers, to see a young boy, perhaps in his teens, enter in the red, wooden door with glue chip glass windows. He had blue and shaggy hair, like one might have after being in a rush. The color, however, was due to where he came from. A ridiculously wide beam shone on his face- one of happiness. Upon seeing him, the doctor felt a surge of ruefulness of what had to be done.
“I’m here for the checkup.”
The doctor stood up abruptly, scattering organized papers everywhere, and straightened his posture, shaking the boy’s hand wearily. “Very nice to meet you...Ethan, if I’m correct?”
The blue-haired boy, Ethan, nodded nonchalantly.
“So, I’m here for a checkup, then I’m out?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Sweet!” Ethan cheered with a whoop.
“Yes. A checkup…” The doctor said, the words trailing off the end of his sentence. He bent down to pick up the fallen documents. Ethan stood nearby, unwilling to help.
“Come.” The doctor directed after stacking them in a neat pile on a desk. Ethan followed him eagerly, maneuvering through chairs and sofas and tables, across the room on the soft, plush carpeted floor covered with intricate designs. With a quick look over his shoulder, the doctor saw Ethan studying the pattern with earnest.
It made sense. One of his specialties would be observing and memorizing all the little details of something.
Once in the clean, white room, Ethan hopped on to the blue surgical bed, taking in the various high-tech equipment. The doctor started preparing all the things necessary for the process, whilst asking Ethan questions- He didn’t think Ethan could figure it out, but who would dare say he couldn’t? After all, he had outsmarted many police schemes.
Ethan had lay down, but the doctor asked him to sit back up. “Probably will be more convenient for both of us that way. Yes, just like that- let me move the back up a bit, you look somewhat uncomfortable. Is it…” He adjusted the seat a little, “...fine like this? Very well, then.”
He was fibbing, as it didn’t matter in any way, what position Ethan was in. The doctor talked to Ethan some more while tapping flashing buttons on the computer screen and typing things into it.
“You have a family you’re going back to?’’
“Oh, yeah.” Ethan unwrapped a stick of gum, retrieved from a pocket that the doctor hadn’t seen, popped it in his mouth and started chewing. “Can’t wait to see my siblings, you know? Parents, too- they rock. Yeah, finally out of that miserable hole. Do you know what food they serve there?”
The doctor paused for a second, hesitating over the keyboard. Most all the others he’d...treated, so to speak, had families who threw them away as a worthless thing, or had no families at all. Hearing Ethan had an actual family to go back to, what sounded like a caring one for that matter, threw the doctor into even more indecision for what lay ahead, in the very near future.
But what must be done, must be done. Ethan had brought much pain and sorrow to so many other families, not to mention the actual victims; his life was supposedly nothing, compared to those that were lost. He’s only a young boy. Like your own boy. With a whole life ahead of him. The doctor’s brain argued. The many logics, of course, went against that. What proper life could Ethan possibly live, other than one of crime?
Ethan was a murderer, one who had to be stopped, and for good. The doctor told himself this and relaxed a little bit. Just a little bit.
Still...was he a murderer, as well?
“Hello? Are we done yet, or what?” Ethan’s antsy voice jolted the doctor, once again to sharp reality. His startling sea green eyes peered into the doctor’s dark, hazel brown ones.
The doctor continued working. “No, not quite.” His recalled what they had been talking about. “Siblings? What’re their names? Also, what are you planning to do, Ethan, once back out in the real world?”
Ethan gave the doctor a swift, suspicious glance- fast, yes, but the doctor caught the look
-before gazing out of the small window on the side of the room, grinning gleefully.
“Leviti and Danny, age three and eight, last time I saw them. ‘Course, they’ve aged a bit. And for the future...I don’t know. Heck, I’m not clairvoyant. Education. College. The usual stuff.” He said this somewhat monotonously, but his face might have suggested Ethan was thinking otherwise.
“That’s nice to know.”
Ethan drummed his fingers on the bed impatiently. “Why do I have to go through this checkup, anyway? Not like I have a condition of any sort. Plus you haven’t really done anything, you know, checkup-like.”
The doctor tensed a bit, then attempted a casual shrug. “I don’t know. And yes, this isn’t the usual...checkup. Do some poking around, see why. I sure don’t think it should be required.”
When he didn’t say anything back, the doctor did a little more work and warned after a while, “Expect a little shock soon. After that, you’ll be finished and free.” Finished for good, free from life, the doctor added quietly in his head. His fingers trembled along with the rest of his body, resting on the button that would end Ethan.
Decades ago, he had learnt, there was a place called the Supreme Court, still up, and running. Hanging and electrocution were only two ways people were cruelly executed - the painless way it was done now was agreeably preferable, yet it was still execution, nonetheless.
“Doc? You okay?” Ethan questioned inquisitively, examining the doctor watchfully, perhaps trying to read his face, the enigma it was. “‘Cause you look pretty worried, and I really want to get out of here…”
Ethan took a deep breath. “You know, I’ve always liked looking at the sky since I was little. The sun, the moon, especially the stars. And I couldn’t see them in the cell. They called to me, taunted me, in my dreams, and I couldn’t reach them. I couldn’t get to them. I could only close my eyes and imagine, but it wasn’t the same, and the images wouldn’t stay. You can never understand it.”
The doctor smoothed the few wrinkles in his clothes out. The little story, whether true or a lie, was terribly heart-rending- though given the situation they were in, it was a most probable reaction to a story of that sort. A wave of guilt crashed over him. “Yes, yes, I do understand. I love looking at the sky as well. One more second.”
All his previous thoughts raced through his head once more. Was he a murderer, as bad as Ethan? Was he? No, he thought, I’m not. My job is to save people from ones like Ethan, a murderer or worse.
Why, oh why, did this whole thing have to be so dreadfully convoluted?
The doctor placed his index finger on the button, and hesitated. Was he?
“Doc? You’re, like, seriously trembling on that button. Hey, what’s it-”
He pressed down forcefully, shoving away all doubts from his mind.
Bzz. He watched Ethan carefully as it happened, in less than a second.The pink, chew up gum flew out of Ethan’s mouth as his expression turned to one primarily of surprise, mixed with a morsel of fear, along with many other small emotions, then nothing as he slumped over.
The doctor watched his body -now seemingly so innocent and small, as is in death- for another minute or so before sighing heavily and pushing the heavy white door back open. He made his way to the lobby. Someone would be there to pick up Ethan’s body soon. The doctor sat back down and addressed the next set of papers, as well as the ever-ticking clock.
He heard two voices briefly conversing outside, a slamming of two doors. Then the screeching of tires, indicating the car had left.
A young boy, perhaps in his teens, walked in. He had shaggy blue hair, like one might have after being in a rush, though the color was due to where he had come from, and a ridiculously wide beam on his face- one of happiness.
“I’m here for the checkup.”