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by Bruce Costello

“Please do not cry.” Dr Roid’s dark eyes gazed at Una, a blond actress in her early forties. “Crying exacerbates depressive illness.”

“I’m not ill.”

“Your symptomatology suggests otherwise. Persistent sadness, loss of libido, insomnia...”

“Look, my husband drowned last year, my daughter’s got an inoperable brain tumour, and now my son’s lost a leg in a truck accident.”

“Failure to get over personal loss indicates underlying psychopathology.”

“I can’t just simply get over it!”

“You can with medication.”

“I don’t want a chemical solution!”

“Trylofluoraxapralanormine is effective with one hundred percent of patients.”

Una leaned forward. “Don’t you doctors know anything about individuality and personal choice?”

The doctor continued in a monotone. “Indeed yes. We are fully trained to recognise and avoid deindividuation, using personalisation techniques and compassionate procedures.” He smiled with the flat warmth of an emoticon. “But on the premise that individuals react to pharmaceutical intervention in ways which are scientifically predetermined, your resistance is illogical.”

“Try this for empathy.” Una reached across and poked him in the eye. There was a loud click and a whirr inside the doctor’s skull. He reached into his pocket for a large grey handkerchief and blew his nose.


“I think we’re getting there with the new prototype,” Una said to her boss, as she hopped into his new red Audi. “He was crying as I left. I still can’t believe I’m Mystery Shopper for RoboDoc Corporation. It’s such a dream job.”