Author: Richard M. O’Donnell, Sr.

To: Four-Eight-Nine
From: You Know
Subject: Last Request

Dear FEN,

Pour my ashes under the face-down headstone.

You know the one. The one we pushed over that night and danced on, the one in the Last Woods on the forgotten farm we all remember because it is still green.

Bribe the West Gate guard. His designation is Two-Two-Five-Four. Follow Dignitaries Trail to Real Pond, where water is still allowed to evaporate. Standing next to so much potable water is in itself worth the risk, but don’t touch it. This will set off an alarm. Don’t linger. The pond is patrolled. Just enjoy the moment. Feel the humidity. That is what Two-Two-Five-Four thinks you are there for. An old soldier’s reminisce of the Time of Water.

Crawl behind Executioner’s Rock. Wear gloves, jeans, and hiking boots. The prickly brushes still snag, a place no finely dressed bureaucrat would tread. Beyond, under the oak boughs fifty-five years older than last time, you will find the headstone where we left it, covered with twigs and leaves. The other markers are gone, pulverized like the ones we helped the Party to destroy worldwide.

I know all this, because yesterday after I used my last vial of insulin, I visited the site. I lifted the headstone up, scrapped the dirt from the letters with my trigger finger, exposed the name, and defied the Party by documenting it here:


The other people we killed were anonymous cords of wood stacked in mass graves, all records deleted, but not our first kill. She rests near the Party’s most sacred spot, safe from excavation. Her name survives.

As you know, last week the Party Elders voted unanimously to deny health care to anyone too selfish to commit suicide “for the good of the State”. The young people partied in the streets as if it were Purity Day. Out with the Old! In with the New! An old slogan reborn to rid them of the last generation to have read a bible, a history book, to know propaganda is not the same as truth.

As soon as all the diabetics like me and those on dialysis die, it is only a matter of months before the blue-shirts will purge the rest of the seniors. You remember how excited we were when the Chairman turned us loose. We couldn’t get to the farm fast enough.

Maybe I have always known the State would demand the ultimate sacrifice, but to let a pureblood like me wither on the vine is a betrayal of the revolution. I wonder if we were wrong, that the infallibility of the State is a myth. I don’t know anymore.

Let’s let time decide, old friend. Let’s leave Ruby her name. I’ll be the anonymous ashes in her grave, the cord of wood, an offering of my regrets to their dead gods. After all, the humans were here first. No one will notice if we let one name slip by.