Investment by Shawn Rampaul

For my first assignment I chose to sever my ring finger. In retrospect, that was unwise; ideally, fingers ought to be preserved. Many opted to submit a more frivolous appendage, like a toe.

Admin reserved the right to refuse your promotion to Level II if you failed to satisfy the six appendage quota. That’s what happened to Rebecca Henderson—She had to slice off her ear on the day of the ceremony. There was a rumour she used to buy other people’s appendages. I don’t exactly know if that’s truthful; Rebecca was two years ahead. But perhaps she was that resourceful, after all, she was the top performer. 

I still remember the orientation techniques: No sawing, no blunt chopping; They wanted a smooth, jaggedless slice. “When you are submitting your pieces please ensure there is no leaking blood.” This instruction etched itself into me because I tried to cauterize the end of my ring finger. I was reprimanded for doing so—“Please avoid burning the flesh of your pieces, it emits a rather unpleasant scent.” 

Many others had to learn via trial and error. Jackie used to remove hers and stow it in a freezer until it was required. Admin didn’t admire her foreplanning; they made her re-submit fresh pieces. 

By the third submission you begin swimming in the routineness of it all: Sever the morning of, hold upright in a container for thirty minutes to drain the blood, secure in a sealable plastic bag, label with badge ID number, submit. 

I don’t understand people who quit, especially after submitting more than one piece. You’re already in debt, you might as well persevere and secure the fruits of your investment. 

Some people stop after Level I because Level II is more stringent.  “At this stage you ought to be familiar with the process. Please exercise utmost care when submitting pieces, as a breach of any etiquette will reflect poorly on your aptitude as a student, as well as stick an unhealthy impression to your name.” 

It was a bit condescending, being instructed on how to mutilate yourself, especially after three years of doing it so routinely. They said that Level II was not like what we’d done before, and that by the end of it we’d be able to extract our own organs—We’d have evolved beyond the elementariness of mere body parts. 

Sir Lysander Lyndon greeted us—that’s a euphemism—he harangued us. I would say he trauma-dumped onto us 200 inductees under his own oblivious guise of misunderstood effort—A modest boast. “If you are steadfast, you will reach far in this profession; If you are dedicated, you will reach far in this field; If you sacrifice, you will ascend high on this ladder. I was 21 when I realized that this was my passion, so I forwent my eyes; I was 25 when I knew this was my calling, so I invested my left lung. The road is not a smooth one, but if you—how do you young people say—‘trust the process,’ you will be successful.” 

We clapped and thanked him for his precious time. A couple people assembled around him in a huddle by the podium. I think he perhaps manipulated them—Planted the thought for some of them to extract their eyes for the next assignment. Not me though; I’m not that gullible; I’m thinking to just submit my left pinky-toe. But I understand why some of them would want to submit their eyes—They want what he has, they want to be like him; He’s the epitome of effort, perseverance… He’s the profits of diligence.

Biography: Shawn Rampaul is a 22-year-old law graduate. He has had an affinity for film during the past decade and is now engrossed within the world of literature, specifically flash fiction. As such, he looks forward to writing more pieces of flash.