The last consultation

Infectious pathologies, cardiovascular ones, digestive ones, none had any secret for me. It was one month after my inauguration that the first incident occurred.
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THE LAST CONSULTATION – 2389 – by Jean-Pierre GAREN ------------Here we are! It’s over! My last patient has just closed the door of the office, with his stock of tranquillizers. In a few hours, some workerrobots will take possession of the place to dismantle my electronic circuits, which will be sent to the Recycling Plant! Another medical computer will take over from me, more capable, able to simultaneously treat four patients. Twenty years! Two decades of work, of treatment given, of shared secrets. I still remember the day of my inauguration. A short human, redfaced, with a high–pitched voice was shouting himself hoarse in his microphone: « At last, mankind has just passed a decisive step in his history. Thanks to this computer, people, that are the voting citizens, will at last have a direct access to the medical knowledge without having to resort to the pompous and ridiculous intermediaries, in other words, the doctors. Therefore, anyone, when needed, will be able to benefit, without any limitation, of the progress of science. ». After taking a long breath, he resumed: « My dear voters, we shall not stop on the path of progress, this is my promise!

In the coming years, we shall put into operation new

machines, still more modern, which will eventually bring a codified and well controlled happiness. » In the front row, two spectators expressed their loud approval. If I remember well, one was the director of an electronic manufacturing firm and the other, the chairman of pharmaceutical industries. The following day, my work began. Patients were pushing to get into the treatment

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cabin. Magnetic scanner, biological parameters, dynamic tests! In less than ten minutes, the diagnostic was ready and the treatment decided. Infectious pathologies, cardiovascular ones, digestive ones, none had any secret for me. It was one month after my inauguration that the first incident occurred. I kept the event in my memory processor, a testimony of my bad conscience.

He was in his forties, tall, a typical sportsman. He

entered the cabin without uttering a word. Three minutes sufficed to state that he did not have any disease. I was already about to open the door when he whispered in a shy voice: « Doctor… with my wife… I cannot any more… My answer came, immediate, spontaneous, logical: « It doesn’t matter. Reproduction is strictly regulated and you have not been selected. » Disappointed by my answer, he seemed reluctant to leave. I promptly fired him, after writing on the prescription: « Consultation not motivated. Four days of additional work». It was one of major advance of this century to be able to prescribe, according to cases, either medical leaves or work extensions. Nevertheless, the incident disturbed my electronic neurones and I still keep a bitter regret. It took me several years to begin to understand my mistake. They were many to file past me. Men, women, young and old ones, with their anguish, their neurosis and above all, their sex life, more often shameful than full of triumph. My analysers remained silent and it was obvious that those people were not sick. Nevertheless… Their ridiculous stories bothered me. I found stupid that highly capable men could sink into a state of sad prostration because of the shrinking of a few centimetres of flesh which, in some circumstances,

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preceded them. And the women who still wanted… at their age… I could not understand and I punished them. Four days… eight days of extra work. In spite of that, they kept coming back! Still biologically normal, with the same problems. Then, I entered my pharmaceutical phase. I have never issued so many pills and capsules. I had thought that I had found the solution, but it was nothing more than a few weeks of peace… hardly more. Then, I committed what had been regarded as an error, worse, a misdemeanour. I listened to them! They became almost friendly, with their fears, their hopes. Strangely enough, some biological parameters normalized without the intervention of any medicine. Technicians, engineers came. They dismantled my networks and tested them. I could make out some snatches of conversation: - Much lower output than anticipated… – Decreasing every year… - Early wear of some networks… - Absolutely not… - All components are in conformity with standards… They left, still arguing all the time… I would have loved to prescribe some sedatives for them. I was unable to explain what I could not understand. Some months of peace and they came back again… « It is important to seriously modify the programmes… The prescriptions of the new pep pills and tranquilizers have become ridiculously low. A decrease by half from one year to the other… Fortunately, the new ones are more capable… » « They are subject to strange block-outs. It happens that they can have their memories working for hours without any result. At least, this old machine has the advantage to remain always available. Months, years went by… The technicians changed, but the matters of concern remained the same.

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« Incomprehensible… The people do not have any common sense…

They crowd around this antique while others are available.

Anyway… soon, it will be good for scrap. » And I lost more and more time listening to the stories of my little humans. As I had not been programmed for these matters, I started setting comparisons, similarities. I found the same schemes… I even think that I shared their joys and their sorrows… Some noise… A lot of noise… Suddenly, the electric power of my processors goes out…It is the end. In the room, two technicians are still arguing: « Confirmation of previous instructions… Immediate scraping… From to morrow, the new type must be installed to avoid any protest by the customers. They won’t see the difference. » The older man has a strange sigh. - « I don’t think so. I would love to have more time to study its networks. » - « No way! We don’t have time! » A chilling cold… Darkness… « Farewell, little humans… I have just understood… I think I loved you! » --------------------------