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By 25 May 2015 | Categories: news

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The Virus

By Aqua Amoah

Dr. Erasmus’ face was grave and Derek knew that there was nothing that could save his wife. He knew that even before Erasmus said the words in that ever-monotonous voice of his that Derek had come to hate over the past few months of his wife’s illness.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Swart,” said Erasmus, in a voice that said he couldn’t care less. “The virus… It’s gotten to the point where nothing can cure your wife. It’s too advanced, developed a resistance. You’ll have to decide if you want to keep her alive or not.”

“Is she in pain?” Derek could feel his own pain, right there in his heart. It gripped him like a claw, made it hard for him to breathe, and the smell of desperation in the small waiting room only worsened his suffocation.

What would he do without Sam? How could he possibly survive without her?

“No, she isn’t in pain, but I’d advise you to take her to Louis Pasteur,” Erasmus replied, fiddling with the stethoscope looped around his neck. “They have the kind of terminal-illness ward better suited to your wife’s illness.”

When Derek spoke again, his voice was barely a whisper. “So I’m just supposed to wait for her to…to die?”

Erasmus’ purple eyes were blinking, a sign that the robot needed to recharge his battery. “No, Mr. Swart,” he said, already turning to leave. “You don’t have to wait. You can end it yourself.”

***

It was the twenty-second century, for Christ’s sake, and there were still viruses floating around which human medical professionals couldn’t figure out. For sure, as Derek thought, the Lienay alien race was better equipped to handle cases like this, but Derek couldn’t think of anything worse than subjecting his precious Sam to their probing and prodding.

Much like President Malema XIV, Derek was fine with coexisting with alien races – as long as they coexisted as far away from him as possible. As it was, most alien races kept to Johannesburg – especially Sandton and Morningside – and that was perfectly all right with Derek, who had been born and bred in Pretoria.

Once he was safely ensconced in his car and out of Steve Biko, the car seemed to mourn with him. Lexi, for that was what his Lexus wanted to be called, automatically went into auto-drive, sensing that he wouldn’t be able to navigate the busy road back to the Willows.

“What did the doctor say, Mr. Swart?” Lexi wanted to know, her voice considerably less monotonous than the doctor’s had been. This model was voiced by Debora Patta, and there was something comforting in hearing her speak every day.

“Nothing I wanted to hear,” was Derek’s response to his car. He leaned back into his leather seat, watching the blurring traffic fade into trees as they approached his neighbourhood.

Erasmus’ words, delivered in his chilling robotic tone, reverberated in his ears.

You can end it yourself.

Euthanasia – wasn’t that what they called it? It had long been legalised in the States but here? It didn’t have such a fancy name: It was murder, plain and simple. He couldn’t murder Sam. They’d been through too much. He loved her.

***

In the end, Derek didn’t take his wife to Louis Pasteur. Instead, he brought her home. Theirs was a small thermal-controlled townhouse owned by his good friend, Sifiso Dlamini. He was the only landlord who could understand Derek’s reasons for being three months late with rent. Despite being a robot, Sifiso had the distinct feelings of compassion, sympathy and love that his counterparts like Erasmus lacked.

You can end it yourself.

Now, Sam was in their bedroom, unable to utter one word. Derek missed her voice, wondered if he’d ever hear it again. The virus had taken that away, made his beloved wife a vegetable.

She was on the bed, her life plugged into the wall. If he pulled it…

She was his first laptop, a Samsung Vocaloid 230 and they’d married young. But now…boxes and boxes of Norton AntiVirus or Kaspersky hadn’t saved her. Debugging her hadn’t brought her back. She had no battery in her, no will to go on. Barely alive.

He pulled her charger out.

About the author: Aqua Amoah wanted to be a lawyer, then a journalist, then a voice actor but settled for writing romance and fantasy novels. Her first novel will be published this year and she constantly prays that George R. R. Martin has a long life.

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