“…Minutes before the bombs hit, we drop parcels of ‘mercy pills’ over civilian villages. Not long enough to alert any triggers for counter-action, just long enough for individuals to decide whether to take their pill, and to die instantaneously if they do. This ‘mercy pill’ will put the humanity back into war. It will differentiate our nation from their nation. We will be leading the way for more compassionate treatment of civilians during warfare, without relinquishing any of our reputation as a force to be reckoned with. The mercy pill will offer higher rates of civilian deaths if administered successfully because a number of those who might have survived the initial physical attacks, will have already administered -of their own free accord!- our mercy pill. The mercy pill will establish our nation as leaders in modern warfare and in human rights, we will have greater tolls in combat, and be securing a more sensitive treatment of civilians who, unfortunately for them, but necessarily for the war cause, must be pawns in these individual battles. We can revolutionise war, but better still, we can revolutionise victory!” The speaker waits for his applause, and walks off the platform while it still goes.
Over at the coffee station, the intermission in this closed conference, two men, camouflaged in the crowd of colourless suits, look each other in the eye and join each other. “This would change everything, everything about what we do.” Says the first. He’s inviting the second to comment, but he’s not sure of his own feelings yet.
“I know. I know.” Says the second. They look at each other, and around the room. Neither of them sure what to think.
“I mean, surely legal’s got their work cut out for them here, shouldn’t we hear what they’ve got to say?” offers the first, again. The room looks busy but is worn down to a hush.
“Still, this might just be what we’ve needed all along, you never know. And above that, we are masters of war, legal very rarely have reason to stop us. ‘All’s fair…’ and all that. I mean, marketing always manage to do something for us, but ultimately it’s up to us to decide whether to go through with Jensen’s initiative.” argues the second.
“You’re right. I suppose you’re right, Stanley, maybe it’s time to try something new? We’ve been over there for so long now. Nearly twelve years. Maybe we need to try something new.”
“That’s it, Bill, we’ve got to give it a kick up the arse. Maybe you’re coming round to it. I’m thinking we could be saying ‘hello victory’ over there in months. If the people are killing themselves off thoroughly, I mean if Jensen’s ‘mercy pill’ really works for us, I mean psychologically, then we could really hit the jackpot. Imagine a whole village kills themselves, what’s the point of the bombs at all? We could just drop mercy pills all over their nation. Really ruin their nation. It would be like taking candy from a baby, Bill. We could be part of the team who ends the war.”
“We’re not in the business of ending wars, Stanley. We’re in the business of winning them.” There is something sour about Bill’s words, but his partner seems to ignore it completely.
“Same difference, Bill. There’ll be others, we won’t be out of business. And think what our nation does for war heroes. I don’t mean the bloodied crippled ones looking for jobs and housing, I mean the ones above that, the ideas men, the innovators, the resource companies. Us.”
There is a heavy pause between the men, before Bill speaks.
“I think I’ll go out for a cigarette, I’ll catch you at the next interval. I’d like to hear what Nelson has to say about this before the next seminar.”
“Well Bill, the more I think about this ‘mercy pill’, the more I think we’d be fools not to. I mean really betraying our nation, as the leaders of this war. You know? And think of it this way, if a bomb was coming at you, and a pill dropped out the sky letting you call the shots- look we’re doing them a favour Bill. We don’t have to, but we’re being the bigger person here.”
Bill looks on with unconvinced eyes. He doesn’t say a thing.
“Okay, you go get your smoke, catch up with Nelson, I’ll meet up with you later,” smiles Stanley, with patronising smarm.
Bill smiles vacantly and steps backwards, slowly turns and walks straight towards the door. The pips are sounding to return to seats, everyone’s milling around, moving in the right direction, and Bill is following that line he’s made for himself, he’s heading for the door.