“Jason isn’t going to make it,” the detective said into his coffee.
“He never stood a chance,” a second voice agreed.
The detective looked up to see a young man in his twenties standing over him. The youth wore a striped hooded sweatshirt and tight, faded jeans. His hood hid his face.
The detective stood.
“Can I help you?” he said.
The two men were in a small hospital room. Adjacent to them was their host; a scrawny, withered up cocoon of a man draped and penetrated with tubes and needles and wires. It was clear that the various monitors and mechanisms were his sustenance.
His machines beeped and then waited and then beeped again.
Above the detective was a thin-screen television mounted to the wall. Its syndicated programs illuminated the otherwise dim room.
The young man said from inside his hood, “I can’t believe he’s dying.”
“He had it coming… The way he was… It was bound to happen sooner than later.”
“I s’pose,” said the hooded man. He cleared his throat and continued, “but who’s next? You or me?”
“How do you mean?” the detective asked.
That was when the young man removed his hood, revealing his face. It was a mirror. The detective stared in amazement as he examined his obvious doppelganger.
“Haven’t you looked at his face, Jason?” the young man said to the detective.
The detective moved toward the dying man in the hospital bed. Beneath his withered skin, sunken eyes, and pale complexion, he recognized the himself.
The intermittent beeps of the machines grew faster, closer to one another, the time between them disappearing. They mashed and melded until they had evolved into a single consistent whine.
The man in the bed exhaled his final raspy breath.
Jason and himself watched as Jason died.
After a moment, the whine of Jason’s flatline subsided, the room went dark, and silence prevailed.
Then the TV said, “…How many of you look back at you when you’re staring in the mirror? Do you like them all? Deal with one or more with Halozyne. New nasal spray applicator makes it quick and simple on the go. Has your mind suffered a break? Is your drug, gambling, sex, or other addiction controlling you, ruining some part of your life? Take a whiff of prescription strength Halozyne and let the magic happen. Your addiction centers will melt away and with it will disappear that pesky you you’ve been battling with. Never again will you get in your way. So, next time you’re in a slump, make a bad decision, or find yourself generally unhappy, take Halozyne, ‘cause let’s be honest, things couldn’t be any worse.”