‘We heard your aunt just passed away. We’re sorry to hear that,’

‘It’s alright, and don’t be sorry. Death is a part of life. It isn’t always a death in itself that causes sadness to many,’

‘Tell us more,’

‘The loss of a person means a gap in the pattern of your life. It is adjusting and making changes that hurt more than the fact that that person is no longer there. People need consistency and a sort of predictability in life, and death disrupts that. Suddenly you’ve got to do the cooking, or you won’t bump into this person anymore. That’s it, really,’

‘So how do you overcome this burden of having your pattern changed?’

‘You create a new one,’

‘Are we right to say, then, that that might entail replacing that person?’

‘If it works then I don’t see why not,’

‘Thank you, you may now return to your chamber,’

‘Oh but there’s one more thing,’

‘Yes? What is it?’

‘I’ve started to lose some sensation in my right hand. Can someone check me?’

‘Oh no that’s totally our doing. Do you want to know more?’

‘Pray tell,’

‘We’ve been lacing your food with a mild neurotoxin that will shut down your body bit by bit. We want to study how you respond to that sort of change,’

‘Interesting. Is the damage reversible?’

‘We’re afraid not, at least at this moment,’

‘Well as long as I don’t taste anything in my food. Also, I’d love to have a copy of the data you collect,’

‘All right then. If there is nothing further, please return to your chamber now,’

‘Certainly. I’m off, then,’

‘Have a good day ahead,’

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