Death by Lethal Bisection
by Jan Baughman

She thought she wasn't that bad; no worse than anyone else, at least. The others, they can't control it. 'They' carry an average balance of $3,800 per year. And that amounts to an additional '$676' in interest. "I'm not as bad as them," she told herself. "And look at the rewards..."

Yes, she knew the statistics. Knew them well. Like an alcoholic who counted the number of drinks consumed by the others at the party she would find justification by comparing herself to those misguided fools. And just look at the rewards... She charged more -- and was given more room to charge! From time to time when she tried to stop and worked to cut her burden down to size, they rewarded her. They gave her more room to charge! They know how people like her function, you see. And they must be right because they make a lot of money doing it.

And anyway, she knew the math. Knew it well. She scanned the sales and made the calculations. As long as she spent X number of dollars to save Y percent she was ahead if (and only if) Y exceeded the annual accrued interest. It made so much sense. So she kept collecting them and using them and was sustained by prolonged, repeated, consuming, orgiastic, instant gratification.

Until she could no longer sustain it.

She tried to stop them but couldn't make them go away. New ones kept coming but she struggled to turn them down. And those other dreaded demands kept coming, month after month like clockwork, until finally their impact was muted, their arrival treated with ambivalence. She resigned to them, and went shopping.

Until one gloomy day in April, that is, when their collective presence was suddenly overwhelming. One by one she wrote the necessary checks, and as the pile decreased her anxiety increased, until the line between sanity and madness was barely visible. She took the scissors from her desk, gazing longingly at the blades; invitingly sharp, gleaming in their lethal glory. She carefully chose three of the plastic culprits and lined them up on the desk. Her heart raced as she randomly chose the first victim. She paused to admire the colorful hologram of the planet earth and the initials of her captor, "M C". Her hand seemed to be a separate entity now as she gripped the scissors, brought them to the plastic and slowly, carefully, bisected her enemy. She watched in horror as she made the final cut, the two pieces falling to the floor, their power destroyed in that one brief moment. She felt the pain as if she had cut through her own being, severing the jugular and releasing the life force from within her veins. Trembling uncontrollably she managed to pick up the intact remains of the two survivors, knowing that her hand would not conspire to repeat this brutal murder. Feeling a sense of relief in this knowledge she placed them along with their ally's remains back in their respective slots, granting them a stay of execution (at least until the following month).

Published May 22, 1996
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