Double Decaf

Jenny could always tell which of her customers wanted to die, even before they placed the order. It was rare that a suicidal customer visited her cafe, though. Usually they came for the same sludge they always came for. When a very chipper young man slid into the cafe, as bright and cheery as the bells on the door, Jenny thought he might be looking for something sweet, like a mocha or a vanilla bean latte.

Instead, he smiled and said, “I’d like a double decaf, please. Small, I guess. Or, you know what, large.”

“Large decaf coffee,” Jenny repeated, punching the order in. It seemed the guy had all the energy he needed before he–

Double decaf,” the customer corrected, a finger in the air. He still smiled, smiled so high his eyes squinted a little. Jenny thought he might have been Asian, or part Asian, or maybe he just had cheekbones that lifted until his eyes were semicircles.

She realized what he was really asking for.

“Are you sure?” she said, hand hovering over the tablet where she would have to correct the order.

“I thought you weren’t supposed to ask,” said the young man. He had sharp features and a full mouth–handsome, with thick shocks of black hair that fell over his forehead and ears in leaf-like points. He was right–Jenny and the other baristas weren’t supposed to encourage customers to give a second thought to their orders.

Opinion on the subject of suicide changed in the past few years. Human-caused climate damage was too high, and the only way it would slow was if there were mass population purges. Short of plague epidemics or wars which could damage far more than just humanity, suicide was rebranded to be a selfless act. Sacrifice. A ticket to heaven instead of hell. Earth needed to shrink its human population by over fifty percent. If people were willing to end things, they were encouraged to do so.

Usually they were poor or old or damaged in some way. Not always, though.

“If that’s what you want,” said Jenny, slowly entering the order. What a waste, she thought. If anyone should stay it should be someone like him. She’d much prefer a world of handsome young men over the greasy fat office workers she served every day. “Your name?” she asked.

“Logan.” He flipped open his wallet.

“There’s no charge,” said Jenny.

Logan tossed a couple bills into the tip jar.

“Assassins should be paid well,” said Logan.

Jenny blinked. “I’m … I’m not an assassin.”

“You serve poison. Kind of assassiny.”

“It’s the law.”

“A common excuse for assassins.”

Jenny didn’t know what to say or how to argue. She didn’t like serving people the Kool-Ade, as the baristas called it, but she didn’t have a choice. It was her job. It was the customer’s choice. And it was for the good of the planet.

Logan retrieved his cup–poison in white ceramic. He slurped it up, eyes on Jenny. Then he spat it in her face.

“You’re all killers,” he said, and walked out of the cafe.

Whatever point he was trying to make was futile. He probably thought you had to swallow the poison. Not so. Having it mixing with saliva would be enough to ingest a lethal amount. Jenny tried to spit out the little that got into her mouth. She might be okay. Maybe. Logan wouldn’t, though.

At least their sacrifices would be praised. Suicide or not.

 


 

 

Day 364’s three random writing prompt categories were, “A new law,” “A barista,” and, “Suicide.”

One more. Just one more prompt. I can hardly believe it.

– H.

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