Unvirtual Jumper

There was a booming trade in suicide, but hardly anyone died. You could pop in any medical office to have yourself put down, but before they could kill you, they had to made you think they had, then get your agreement that yes, you really wanted to die.

They’d put the helmet down, the mask on, then boom, you were on a bridge, planning to jump, and jump you did. On the way down, well, it was like that old saying, “Everything in my life I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having jumped.”

It wasn’t even expensive.

You always believed it—the brain wasn’t much good at distinguishing fiction from reality even without the helmet making sure you believed it—but the brain did get used to it.

The form of suicide varied—buses, trains, cops—but the main thing was to make it longer. Instead of pulling the jumper when he realized he’d rather not die, let him hit the water. He might wake up in the hospital ICU covered in casts, and start rehab while resolving to really do something with his life—or he might die. Religious folk liked to spend five minutes in hell, the first five minutes being more terror than torment.

A lot of people liked to be saved by batman before they hit the water, then conduct an illicit sexual relationship with him. Whichever version of batman they preferred. Harry didn’t know much about that. He was a Wonder Woman kind of guy.

As he plunged from the bridge, she’d catch him with the Lasso of Truth, then haul him to her level. Hanging in mid-air she’d ask why he’d tried to kill himself, and he’d snivel his reasons. She’d roll her eyes, say he needed to remember what life was like, and take him around town. Against her will the rehabilitory tour would turn into a date, and she’d say, “There’s something hypnotic to your pain, pathetic man,” and one thing would lead to another…

The trouble with brains is they’re not very good at distinguishing reality from fiction.

On his way home, thinking he’d like to meet Wonder Woman again, Harry stepped in front of a train. He’d been in hell just over five minutes when he started to worry whether Wonder Woman would show.


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