The following is the alternate ending I wrote because the original was too abrupt. It was cut back because of word count, and because I eventually decided that a stark ending with no looking back was better. I wanted the suggestion that Shaun no longer had a conscience, and that we’d been a shut out of his head as he’d been. As it turns out, a third re-write should have been made to fix the ending I used. Hindsight.
Shaun shook his head.
“No. There has to be something else we can do.”
“Shaun, eventually you’re going to hurt someone. Do you want that on your conscience?”
Shaun was back in the chair, staring resolutely at the floor.
“I don’t want to believe you,” he said “but I can’t ignore what you’re saying. Get the sedative. Get the consent form. Do it now.”
Dr. Curtis stepped back into the room to find Shaun gone. The plastic chair, legs in the air, was against the wall. Dr. Curtis experienced a moment of panic and forced himself to breathe slowly and think. Shaun couldn’t have more than a minute or two’s head start. He could still be caught.
The reception desk at the main door confirmed that Shaun had passed that way and Dr.Curtis took a moment to pat his jacket pocket. The syringe was safe. He stepped out into the evening and went where the lights and people were, reasoning that Shaun would try to lose himself in a crowd.
He caught up with Shaun at an intersection. Dr. Curtis had caught sight of him minutes earlier, watching with a kind of detached horror as the man shuffled and twitched along. If you knew nothing of his condition, you would have seen in Shaun a man clearly struggling with himself. His mouth was locked in a rictus, lips pulled back, and his eyes were wide and wild. Dr. Curtis watched for a moment as Shaun teetered on the edge of the kerb and then put his hand on Shaun’s shoulder. The contact seemed to defuse something.
“Help?” said Shaun, shying away from the doctor’s hand “it’s hard to talk. Did you bring the shot? Please?”
“It’s going to be OK, Shaun,” said Dr. Curtis, pulling as much warmth and reassurance into his voice as he could muster. He rolled Shaun’s sleeve, aware that the man was weeping.
“sorrysorrysorrysorry” said Shaun.
Dr. Curtis patted Shaun’s arm and then found himself moving. He lost all sense of place for a moment and then found himself standing several feet from Shaun, facing him.
“Oh god” thought Dr. Curtis “I’m in traffic”. Something loud happened beside him. He turned to look. There was a sudden feeling of pressure, a sound like an explosion.
From the safety of the kerb, Shaun watched the drivers brake and swerve. He watched the rag doll body roll and roll and come to a stop. He listened to the shocked cries and shouting. He smiled, he turned and he walked away.