Thursday, April 14, 2016

Speculative Fiction or Reality?

Blood work and mammograms. When I turned fifty, I committed to regular check-ups. Not to be mistaken with annual check-ups. Patients are now encouraged to wait eighteen months before visiting their doctors for routine tests. Tests allowed by the government—so far.
This week’s appointments reminded me of a short story I wrote about four years ago. Culling of a Nation was published most recently by Simone Press in the anthology Indie Trigger Short Stories available now on Amazon. (Pardon the plug.)
Anywho, a doctor read this story and told me that I didn't realize how close to the truth I was with my ‘speculative fiction’. Chilling words, considering the subject matter of Culling of a Nation.
Judge for yourself.

Culling of a Nation
Phyllis L Humby

“Six of your patients died last month Dr. Reener. What do you have to say to that?”
Dr. Reener, expecting this confrontation, replied in a clear voice. “Two more patients would have died if they hadn’t sought help at the hospital emergency ward.” She challenged the Chief of Staff with her own steely gaze.
“I look forward to a better report next month, Dr. Reener. You have been below quota for the last three months.”
Dr. Reener closed her laptop and leaned back, resting her elbow on the arm of the chair. A manicured hand covered the grim line of her mouth.
“As for the rest of you, I have emailed your new quotas. All eyes are on us, people. Our community is the training ground. You have the highest income of any doctor in the country.”
Dr. Allister swept her blonde curls away from her face and locked her pale gray eyes on each of the twelve professionals seated at the oval conference table.
“You are well paid for your contribution to society. If you keep wasting the government’s money on tests, blood work, and hospital care for senior citizens, there will be no money. Why do I need to constantly remind you of the HCLS mandate?” The crescendo of her voice echoed in the
uncomfortable silence of the boardroom.
Leaning forward, her hands resting flat on the smooth wood surface, Dr. Allister invaded the space of the newest member of the staff. Dr. Canter paled, accentuating the freckles scattered across his boyish features. His child-like hand rested under his chin in an unsuccessful effort to control the tremor.
“Dr. Canter, how many of your patients died last month?” With his tongue glued to the roof of his mouth, and hands too shaky to support a glass of water, he sat mute.
“I will tell you how many Dr. Canter. Three patients died under your care. Three patients. What do you have to say?”
 “I don’t have my p-patient roster t-to capacity yet. I’ve just st-started my p-p-practice.”
Dr. Allister’s cheeks flamed. “You ordered MRI’s, CT scans, ultra sounds, and x-rays.” Her hands flailed in agitation. “For senior citizens. People over seventy years of age, Dr Canter. Seventy!” 
She slapped her hands on the table. The young man flinched, his freckles convulsing against the greenish cast of his skin. “Do you understand the HCLS - Health Care Limitations for Seniors? Next month I do not want one test done on anyone over seventy years of age. Not one test, Dr. Canter, or your career will be very short-lived. You are affecting our quota and the reputations of all the doctors in this room.”
Dr. Allister, her porcelain skin glowing, dabbed at the moisture collected on her upper lip and returned to the head of the table.  
“Let’s end this meeting on a good note. The Lakepoint Rest Home is closing at the end of the month. By this time next year, condos will surround the waterfront.” A smattering of applause followed her announcement. “That brings the total closure of senior facilities to four since we began our program.” More applause eased the tension out of the room.
Dr. Allister beamed. Her reprimand of Dr. Reener and the blunders of an inexperienced Dr. Cantor aside, she accepted the credit for a substantial turn around in the budget spending. “Believe me; our efforts have not gone unnoticed. More daycare facilities are proposed for the work place. Not only will these daycares be at no cost to employees, there will be a bonus for every employee who has children. Of course, the stipulation being that the parent must be married.”
“This is a proud time for all of us. Our government is doing everything in its power to restore balance and build a viable population base.” The Chief of Staff looked at each of the twelve doctors in turn before adjourning the meeting. “We will lead the way. We cannot let our government down.”
“Doctors, after you leave the meeting, please check your emails for the new quota on births. You need to coach your young patients to begin their families early. Remind them of the dividends paid for each child. Do not forget the daycare facilities. There is no reason a new parent has to stay home with a child, and grandparents may not be available. Everyone will work. Remember, their tax dollars pay your salaries.
Now, each one of you, return to your office and take care of business. There are bonus cheques from HCLS on the credenza. Pick them up on your way out. Dr. Canter, don’t bother looking for yours.”
“I will see all of you back here next month.”