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Right to Die

Lang Grillman was taken from this life by a stroke at 68 years old. He had spent the pinnacle of those years as a celebrated football player. His triumphs included two super bowl rings, the MVP Award, and his induction into the hall of fame.
This was the peak of his glory, the descent into obscurity was characterized by drug addiction and car insurance commercials. When he looked in the mirror and saw the deepening wrinkles on his face the loosening skin, and the graying hair he did not see a man who was aging he saw a fallen god in decay.
He spent much of his last years in his memories. He knelt before his display of trophies as if it were an altar and beseeching the past to return, but he could only move forward. No matter how much he spent on skin treatments and hair dye these chemical remedies were not much better than a crumbling wrapper set around his flesh. Soon the gold no longer shined and neither did Lang. He died long before they lowered him into the grave.
He was not departed for long, though. Thanks to the breakthrough at Gilbourn labs Lang and countless others were resurrected in the form of a hologram. The revolutionary device was able to use millions of pin sized lights to essential color in the spiritual presence of the deceased.
For many the laser light Lazarus was a miracle, death had finally been conquered, or at least relegated to the realm on inconvenience.
Lang as so many others was to be preserved in a semi-translucent form, but it was solely for the benefit of his family who could no let go. Lang found the prospect of immortality to be a miserable one. When his family illuminated him back into existence, they deprived him of the quiet tranquility of death.
For whatever reason, a person’s spiritual presence looks just like the body did, before it expired. So that’s how Lang was preserved as an elderly man descending into the decay of old age. It was the version of himself that sickened him, and it was in that unalterable form he would stay forever, stuck in the terminus but never approaching the end.
There was no rest for the dead. It was impossible to sleep because his eyelids were transparent. When he was alive, he had various pharmaceutical methods for checking out of life if only for a few hours but death offered no such escape.
At night while his family slept Lang spent his time either in silence or bathed in the glow of the television's numbing light. Lang could hear birds chirping outside so he guessed dawn must be breaking, but that was little comfort. His family would go about their lives while he stayed there chained to the hologram machine. The only thing worse than being forever an old man was living in the world he had no agency in, a world he couldn’t even touch.
He heard footsteps and the high pitched yawn of a six-year-old.
“Darren is that you?” Lang asked the darkness.
“Yeah, it's me, grandpa.” Tate yawned again.
“Let me talk to you a minute,” Lang said.
“Ok grandpa,” said Tate switching on the overhead light. Tate was the first generation of children who would grow up having no fear of ghosts. The phantasm that was his grandpa that dwelled in the den of their house had been a part of his life for the last three years.
“Now you have to know grandpa loves you and your mamma very much. You know that right Tate?” Lang asked.
“Yeah, grandpa I know.” Tate nodded.
“Do you love Grandpa?” asked Lang.
“Yeah,” Tate said nodding his head.
“If I went away I want you to understand it's not that I don’t love you and your mamma it's just what's best.” blurted Lang
“Go away where”? Asked Tate.
“Tate I need you to bust up this hologram machine.” said Lang somberly.
Tate stared at his grandfather skeptically.
“I want you to smash this thing, so it doesn’t work anymore,” Lang repeated.
“If I do that you’ll disappear.” said Tate.
“I know, but grandpa has to go away. I have to go away.” Lang said becoming frantic.
“Why do you want to go away?” asked Tate.
“Tate it won’t make sense to you now but one day it will,” Lang said.
“What will?” asked Tate.
Lang hesitated to answer. He was long past considering his own mortality and was now considering his grandson. This was the fate that awaited him. The pain of age and the endlessly boring and isolating limbo of death.
Lang wasn’t the only specter struggling with the realities of his new existence all over the world the dead were trying to find their place in the world, trying to exercise some agency for most it was a futile effort. Long dead royalty tried to reclaim thrones that no longer existed, industrialists tried to wrest back fortunes from families, and a few prominent American statesman had return from beyond the grave to complain about the lack of a slave trade.
In Washington DC, one deceased Silicon Valley tycoon was adjusting quite a bit differently to death than Lang. Lucas Dryvill died at 54 years of age from pancreatic cancer. His company provided the startup capital that allowed the spirit hologram to become a commercial success in the luxury electronics market.
Dryvill was standing in the chambers of the supreme court of the United States. He had just won the decision for the dead to be granted the same rights over their property and assets they had when they were alive. This wasn’t a tough sell to a group of wealthy people who were already well into old age. It was a landmark decision. No longer was death the end of life at least in the financial sense.
But Dryvill was not going to stop there. He was aiming to dissolve the boundary between life and death by demanding the Supreme Court mandate everyone be preserved via the hologram machine.
“Justices my point is simple,” Dryvill said striding confidently before the elevated bench of the court. “To leave human beings in a state where they can’t be seen and can’t be heard is cruel and unusual. Wondering around the world as an invisible presence is the ultimate existential crisis, and research had shown spectral conscience often go insane before of this. We have the ability to save everyone from this fate it would be barbaric not to do it! It is up to us a society to provide the means for families to stay together in the face of death. People don’t have to bear the pain of loss, and no life needs to go unfinished” Dryvill proclaimed.
“When did you become such a humanitarian?” The looming chief justice asked skeptically.
Dryvill sighed. Old habits just like people this day and age die hard. Dryvill went to stroke his beard only to find his fingertips going through the light that was his flesh.
“Alright I’ll put this to you in more simple terms. I can use this ruling to mandate people by the hologram machine and, of course, the value of the stock I own again will soar. I know at least three of you own stock in the company, and I know all of you own stock in companies I can personally sink if you should choose to rule against me.”
A vote was held immediately after that statement it was a unanimous aye.
So Dryvill got his wish. Everyone would enjoy the dubious benefits of immortality, and he would profit enormously. The government launched a subsidies program to pay for hologram machines in perpetuity the world became crowded with the dead, who made it impossible for humanity to move into the future because they were unable to leave the past behind.

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