My husband and I have been watching the show Smallville from start to finish for the last few weeks. Last night, we were watching the episode "Tomb" (#5.14, 2006), and one of Chloe Sullivan's lines stood out to me: "Clark, I'm a writer. If I killed myself, I would write one hell of a suicide note."
So, I started having fun with that idea. What kind of a suicide note might a writer leave behind? And how could the simple enough act of writing a suicide note be made more complicated for the sake of the story?
Grim beginnings, maybe, but I tried to have some fun with it too.
A Complicated Suicide
Nella fiddled with the dial on the control panel. The holographic image flickered slightly as it adjusted to the changes. The hologram resembled her in every way: identical dirt blond hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail, the same steely blue eyes. Nella only hoped that the minor adjustments in its mood settings would be enough. She couldn’t do anything about its unfortunate personality.
Unnerved by the way the hologram stared back at her, Nella reached over to pick up the small glass from the side table. The amber liquid burned all the way down her throat. “Okay, let’s try this again,” she said bitterly. “Record and replay.”
“Recording,” the hologram replied.
Nella began to recite the well rehearsed words, though they now come out with a distinct edge of annoyance.
"By the time anyone cares enough to check up on me, I’ll probably be decomposed. That’s fine though. I don’t have the patience for most of you anyway, and my lack of interaction with people is probably the only reason I haven’t killed myself before now.
"I see enough of your vile opinions via internet reviews. So you don’t like my books, the one contribution I made to the world. That’s fine. I can’t help your lack of taste or your arrogance of thinking you know anything about writing novels. I can, however, decide that I don’t want anything to do with you.
"Unfortunately for you, cruel world, you cannot get rid of me so easily. My hologram will continue to exist. After it delivers this message to you, it will continue to write scathing indictments of human stupidity and self-righteousness. This hologram will inherit everything I have, since I don’t want any of my ungrateful, money-grubbing family members to get any of it, and they don’t have the authority to turn my hologram off. Any attempt to do so to gain access to my belongings will result in their arrest.
"Good-bye and good riddance."
She stopped a brief moment to allow a nice dramatic pause after her closing words. “End recording.”
The playback mode immediately kicked in, and Nella listened as the perfect replica of her voice began to spew her spiteful words. All of the inflections were there. Meanwhile, she took another long drink, thinking to herself that alcohol was the only thing of this world she would probably miss.
As the hologram neared the end of its recitation, she began to think that maybe it would actually work this time.
Then, when it reached the part of the letter regarding itself, the hologram stopped. “Are you sure you want to word it this way?”
When Nella slammed her glass down on the side table, alcohol sprayed all over her hand. “For the last time, why can’t you just do as I tell you? I made up my mind. I don’t want to change anything. Now, let’s finish this part so I can get on with this.”
“These might technically be your final words, but they’ll be attributed to me,” the hologram argued. “I have to answer for them, so I think I should have some input.”
“Like what?” Nella demanded bitterly. “What else could you have to say after the last eleven times you insisted on correcting my language?”
“I still don’t like that you refer to me as ‘the hologram’ and ‘it’ the whole time. Now, by bringing this up with you, I’m really being more considerate than you give me credit for. I could simply amend your recording after you die and say it as I please.”
“You wouldn’t dare tamper with the recording,” Nella said in a low, menacing tone. “I control you, remember?”
“Not after your death,” the hologram retorted smugly. “If you’re expecting me to act as your replacement, you should treat me with the same dignity and respect that you would expect from everyone else.” Then it paused, its face turned up in a distasteful sneer. “On second thought, forget it. You’re a snarky, twisted, whiny, sniveling wench who expects the world to treat you like garbage because you know that’s all you actually deserve.”
A surge of rage swelled inside Nella, and suddenly she wanted nothing more than to tear the hologram’s face off. Not that this kind of retaliation would do any good. Then she looked down at the console, and something deep inside possessed her. “If I deserve it, then so do you!” Picking up her glass, she angrily flung it at the delicate controls.
The glass shattered on impact, and the remaining alcohol dribbled down the panel. Smoke began to curl from the surface, snaking around the knobs and buttons. Sparks followed. Nella watched with satisfaction as her hologram’s face looked on in horror.
One last round of sparks erupted from the panel, and the hologram winked out of existence.
“Good riddance,” Nella mumbled. She stumbled to the kitchen and retrieved a bottle of wine.
She passed out on the floor with the empty bottle at her side.
* * *
Rough hands were yanking her upwards when Nella wobbled back into consciousness. “What ‘er . . . doing?” she mumbled incoherently.
“You’re under arrest,” a gruff voice replied.
The voice and the sensation of cold manacles securing her hands behind her back sobered her faster than anything else in the world. “What? What for?” Nella frantically glanced between the two police officers who flanked her as they marched her toward the front door.
“Murder and suicide,” one of the officers replied.
“Huh?” she demanded. “How can that be?”
“You created a duplicate of yourself. That hologram was a sentient copy of you. According to the data we retrieved, you even intended it to replace you. By destroying it, you killed an intelligent being, and technically yourself as well. You’re going to prison for a long time.”
The absurdity of it all almost made Nella laugh. “Trust me officer, if you’d met her, you would have done the same thing.”