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All paths lead to pathways

Screw it he thought to himself and jabbed restlessly at the elevator button. Eventually the lift smoothed its way up the side of the building, a glass coffin taking him up into the sky, into soft white knuckles of cloud. Things hadn’t always been this way and he thought back to the very first time a ‘pathway’ was introduced. It was way before his time of course and he dimly remembered that they’d named it after a Northern town. Since then the technology had grown, algorithms had budded and branched and human compassion had ebbed away like heat from a hot day. The lift finally reached the ward and he stepped out to start his rounds, in front of him he wheeled the machine that would make all of his decisions.  

He hadn’t done it for a few weeks but sometimes he looked in on the patients. Some of them bubbled and snored like stabbed fish, others lay with their thin arms stretched over the sides of their cots. They were all dying of course, and he imagined what it would be like to touch them, flesh on flesh, touch on touch, but he quickly looked back to his screen.

The computer must have read his mind because it warned him not to go in, this one’s white cell count was low and her fluids were already being remotely monitored by the algorithm. He’d been tempted to over-ride the system but it was no use, he’d only get into trouble, all he had to do was wheel the computer terminal from one room to the next and let it make its own decisions. The software knew best.

He got back into the elevator and pressed his face against the glass, it felt cool to him. As he looked out into the distance the white knuckles of cloud had formed a crimson hand which crawled across the sky.