Statement of Tova McHugh regarding their string of near-death experiences.
Jon and Basira are concerned about Daisy as she refuses to Hunt and is starving. Basira has been urging her to hunt Trevor and Julia, who are still at large, but Daisy seems to have accepted death as the price for being free from the Hunt.
Jon has told them that they can be free from the Institute by blinding themselves but neither of them want to go through with it. Basira goes to check on Daisy as Jon settles down to record a statement.
Tova McHugh wants to make it clear that she does good in the world. She has financed a homelessness initiative that got 8,000 people into shelters, financed drug projects, organised inner city violence initiatives, and her business provides jobs for almost 700 people. Of course, every life has value, but her impact on the world is an undeniably positive one, and she does not want anyone to think she is being purely selfish.
She has always tried to live a healthy life and it didn’t seem fair when she had an epileptic seizure at the top of a staircase just a month before her wedding. She remembers the strange feeling before the attack, then falling down the stairs and cracking her head. Then she went away.
She has never really feared dying. Being agnostic, she figured there was simply nothing after death. But now she is aware of the absence of everything. She is in a dark and cold place and is growing more desperate by the second.
Suddenly, she is back in the light. She is in an operating theatre and can see herself on the table. Her heart rate monitor shows a flat line and a doctor is doing CPR on her. She tries to reach out for her body, desperately trying to restart her own heart. Instead she reaches into the doctor’s chest and feels the calm beating of his heart. It fills her with a hateful rage, that he can be so calm while she is dying. The rage seems to flow out of her into the doctor, and he collapses, convulsing on the floor. At this, the heart rate monitor shows her heart has started to beat again.
She wakes in hospital bed. After being pressed on it, a nurse tells her that a doctor suffered a fatal heart attack while treating her. McHugh tries to write it off as a bizarre near-death experience and goes back to her life. She heals fast and marries her husband, Daven, just a month later as planned.
A year later she slips in the shower and cracks her head on the faucet. Again she finds herself in the cold and dark place before coming back to the world as a disembodied presence. She starts to suspect what is going on and is appalled, but she has to live. She is on the verge of closing a deal that will provide fresh water to impoverished communities in a dozen developing countries. She moves out of the house and finds what she needs, an old woman sitting by herself in a park. McHugh re-awakens in the shower, and the old lady is found dead by a stroke.
She thinks she has it figured out, but things quickly go bad. She has an allergic reaction just two weeks later despite never having had allergies before. She wonders if the woman had been too old and looks for someone with more life left in them. This time she takes a young homeless man.
She is in a car accident just three months later and makes a decision. A single large sacrifice to keep going. She figures it’s life she needs and takes an infant born into poverty. She justifies it to herself by thinking that a life in poverty would have been a life of needless suffering. She thinks it’s surely the last life she will have to take, and when her right and proper death comes, she will go willingly.
The infant only lasts her ten months. Eventually, she learns that it has nothing to do with age or health, only connection. The more friends and loved ones a person has, the longer they sustain her.
She’s 40 now, and has taken so many. But she insists that she has done so much good with her life. After coming to this horrific existence, she throws herself into philanthropy harder than ever. The world is so much better for her being in it. She will not say that how she lives is right or good, but it is the choice she has been given. And it is the choice she will continue to make.
Jon finds himself hating Tova McHugh and her callousness. He wonders if the value of a life can be quantified. He saved the whole world when he stopped The Unknowing. Does that give him the right to take what he needs? He feels weak having read nothing but old and dry statements for so long.
He respects Melanie and Daisy for resisting in their own ways, but doesn’t know if he can follow them. He knows he could just blind himself, but he cannot bring himself to do that either, if only because the others might need him.
His thoughts are interrupted by Melanie. She is ready to blind herself if it means being free. She is certain in her choice, and has made arrangements for her care afterwards. She’s mostly just worried about those staying at the Institute.
She intends to use an awl and has already left her letter of resignation for Peter Lukas. Jon offers to help and she simply asks him to call an ambulance in five minutes.