How do you put a value on a human life? Without wanting to be too philosophical, Cartwright & Jones came up with the figure of £5,428 exc. VAT, although critics may argue that this is the price of a death, not a life. Costing was based on simple economics and practical necessities. Overheads were high, especially in the beginning, but the main factor was supply and demand. Rosewood House was not the only company looking to exploit recent and deliberately flexible End of Life legislation and competition in the euthanasia industry was rife. But from the standpoint of the associates, the numbers weren’t important. What was important was they were an ethical company. They just needed a little extra income.
Rosewood House is home to the clinic founded by Dr’s Cartwright & Jones, respected physicians and specialists in degenerative medicine. In a harsh financial climate, the good doctors ease the suffering of the desperate and dying but austerity is biting and the future is uncertain.
And then came Letitia, the teutonic Letitia Rutger-Green, dragging her sick and down-trodden husband behind her. Arthur is sick but he is not on death’s door. He has, however, lost the will to live and longs for release from this or any other world with Letitia in it. The devoted carers of Rosewood House know there is only one way to save poor Arthur. With only days until her own termination, a selfless patient steps forward. She has nothing to lose and wants to commit one final act of kindness before she goes. A line is crossed.
Twelve months after Letitia and the line has been redrawn many times. For a fee, a patient may select an abusive spouse, colleague or neighbour to take with them when they go and in these little ways Rosewood House makes the world a better place.
Most of the off the books terminations are undertaken by enthusiastic patients, one of whom shines like a star. Mr Rimmington is one of life’s gentlemen and he embarks on a new vocation made possible by Cartwright & Jones. National Service, REME and a career in construction have given Mr Rimmington skills, skills he now puts to good use in implementing novel methods of execution. ‘They’re all “accidents”,’ he said. ‘I’m very careful.’
As the story unfolds, and Dr Cartwright begins to lose his moral bearings, we are introduced to Lucien Haynes MP, Secretary of State for Health and his plans for … well, let’s just say that Mr Haynes does not necessarily have the nation’s best interests at heart and Mr Rimmington is sent to have a word.
Meanwhile Detective Inspector Fredericks has discovered a pattern in the ever rising body count of unusual fatalities.
Back at the clinic, Nurse Khan is worried about Dr Cartwright’s enthusiasm for drumming up new business while her colleagues are wrapped up in problems of their own. Psychotherapist Evelyn Parks is an unwitting accomplice in the murder of a schoolboy while pretty young practice manager Olivia Patterson simply has too many men in her life. They could ask for help but Mr Rimmington is a busy man.
The sooner we get Indignitas published, the sooner we can get on with the sequel – What A Way To Go. The clinic is expanding its business to meet the growing demand for the spectacular exit.
If it was up to Dr Cartwright all terminations would take place at one o’clock on a Friday afternoon. One o’clock allowed time for patients to be booked in and made comfortable. One o’clock sanctioned time for the paperwork, for there were many forms to be filled. One o’clock would bring a final check-up and a last-gasp prayer for divine intervention. One o’clock dried the tears before bedtime, at least for those in the profession. It was just a shame it was four-thirty on a Wednesday afternoon. Four-thirty! Who the hell would schedule a final appointment for four-thirty?
Dr Cartwright popped his head around the Treatment Room door. ‘Joan, I’ll be with you in a minute. I just need to have a quick word with a friend.’
As ever, eternal thanks to everyone who has pledged towards Indignitas. I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know where we are up to.
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These people are helping to fund Indignitas.