So like there are some sort of funky-ass roaches in the kitchen again, black red motherfuckers with long skinny bodies and no fear of light. You know the kind- you see one, you’ve got 50 hiding in the cracks. Those things look like they’ve got something to prove. They don’t run or anything, just crawl around looking all confidant. I see a lot them now.
Are you ready for the new shit? There’s another bug running around outside on the streets, looking all alien and mechanical. They’ve got huge-ass stingers and mirrors for eyes. People aren’t really scared of them. I think it’s because after you do EAS, you won’t actually feel pain if something damages you.
You can’t be scared if you don’t feel pain, right?
EAS. No more sickness, no more hurt. All with a tiny capsule a day out of a rose colored container. End All Suffering is printed on those bottles; it pops up on my phone; it’s projected on every blank wall in the city. I’m surrounded by shit that promises a beautiful, happy life.
When life is perfect and pain free, it’s dull. Every goddamn day I wake up on EAS it’s like a spring morning and I’m the healthiest motherfucker in the world. If I pop the little pill, I’ve got another 24 hours of perfection, cure, and health in abundance, which is something else that is printed on the pill container.
Health In Abundance
Looks like something that would be on a flask of snake oil some slimy salesman in the Old West hawked out of the back of a wagon, right? The pills deliver what they promise though, and everyone in the world is popping them like fucking candy. No one is sick. No one is unhappy. No one except me and a few others. All the advertisements say that it is the end of pain, genetic sickness, viral and bacterial disease. It heals almost all wounds, bones, organs. It makes everyone happy 100% of the time.
The happy part doesn’t work for me. My name is Eddie, and I’m an illness junkie. I say that at daily meetings. Twelve steppers swear by confession, and it burns my mouth to say I’m a junkie, so I love it. What happens when there’s no pain, no suffering, no illness? We all just walk around feeling perfect until one day we just end. No warning, no nothing. We just fucking stop. Kaput. That’s all, folks. Surprise and fuck you, you’re dead.
Those roaches are climbing all over the walls. I’m wondering if they are real or just another hallucination that I’m getting from the other pills that I take. I fucking hate feeling good all the time- I don’t take EAS unless I need a cure from whatever sickness I put in me for kicks. Pain is awesome, and it comes in tablet form too. I just got over a choice case of pleurisy. Such torture taking each breath, hard and brittle. It almost killed me. The fever alone was a trip. Fuck me that was a great way to spend a weekend lying in bed. But now I’ve popped EAS, and it’s mixing in with the pleurisy pill from last fucking Friday. My lungs are clear, I’m breathing easily, and there are hundreds of thousands of roaches crawling all over the fucking place. Injection confection, eye candy, hallucinations. I guess that’s what they are. If not, my neighbors are fucked because there’s no way this many weird ass insects are only infesting my apartment.
I have to go to work. The pleurisy is about gone and I’m feeling just fucking dandy. Maybe one of those big motherfucker bugs will sting me on the way to my carrell at the library and I’ll have enough nerve left to feel it just a little, just enough to get me by until I can get something to carry me into the weekend, maybe an allergy to dust mites or tobacco. Just something irritating but not showy so I can duck under the MedPol radar. You don’t think I go to those fucking IA meetings by choice, do you? They really want to know why the pill’s anti-depressant/mood elevator doesn’t work for me but fuck them and their miracle pill that made me numb, made me a zombie with a jones to feel something other than perfection and elation.
I open the door to the hallway. There’s a rattle in the lights above me. Hundreds of those roaches are crawling out of the fixture onto the ceiling, washing out of the sides in waves. Fucking A. I step on one of those little bastards, and it makes a crunch under my shoe. I still can’t tell if the bugs are real. The building super can deal with this if it’s a non-hallucination.
Outside it’s cool, gray, and overcast. The pill should make me feel like I’m walking on sunshine, but all I see is cloud cover. Since EAS only partly works for me, I can see things for what they fucking are, not what some pharmacopeia-reading pill pusher wants me to see. Like down the street I can see a huge stinger bug jamming his ass into some fucking moron who just stands there like a milked cow. He didn’t have to let that thing sting him- it was the pill that let the sting happen.
I see it all the goddamn time. Usually when someone gets stung once, they let the bugs do it again and again; the EAS blocks pain and heals the wounds almost instantly. There’s nothing really forceful about those bugs either, except for maybe their eyes, like the one that just started following me now. The eyes hypnotize me. Mirrors reflecting back whatever is in front of them. My own eyes stare back at me from the insect and I can’t help but hold still for the puncture. What’s the matter? Don’t you love yourself? I’m looking at the bug I’m letting sting me now, wondering if I’m just an apathetic hypocrite, if the other people being harmed are like me, if they want the pain so much they go through numb motions even when EAS kicks in and cures everything.
Everything but my motherfucking soul.
The stingers aren’t pumping anything into my body; they’re sucking like a mosquito or a leech. I can’t really tell what they’re taking but it’s not blood. It doesn’t seem to be a lot, about half a tablespoon at a time of some yellowish looking shit. Fuck it. I don’t care. I just know that it should hurt and I’ll go through all sorts of shit even for the hope of pain.
On the street, there’s EAS overdosers everywhere, moving like swallows swooping around aimlessly together, killing time, I guess. The people in the middle of the flock crush against each other. I hear the bones snapping and see people falling down, trampled. They heal, get right back up, and run for the group. I see one girl and she’s kind of small, like a kid. She falls and a fat woman in high heels steps on the side of her head. I don’t think EAS is going to fix that spike to the brain. She’s never getting up. The group moves on. I’m late for work and I leave her corpse there too. What’s fucked up is eventually we all end up dead, and the EAS makes life pointless. Same shit, different approach.
Yeah, do you see what I mean now? It’s like everyone in the world “gets” this drug. They’re all one one frequency. It’s like everyone fucking harmonizes with everyone else. Well, not quite everyone. Me. I don’t jibe. Some others don’t either but we keep to ourselves. It’s not like we have a club or anything, just IA. And the MedPol tells us not to socialize with each other after meetings, not like I’d socialize with any of those other motherfuckers. No fucking worries. I’m loser enough for myself; most of us avoid each other unless we need to score. If I got a need, I’ll find a fucking dealer. I don’t need a friend to leach off of my sickness stash. Most everyone else seems almost poetic, lyrical, in harmony on EAS. I feel like I’m the only poem around that doesn’t rhyme. I said that at IA once. Fuckwads laughed at me. Now I lie. I tell them what they want to hear. I tell everyone what they want to hear. It’s easier to get what I want when I lie. I lie at the library all the time. They think I’m just like them, that I’m happy and healthy, but I’m fucking scared because I don’t get the same effects from EAS as everyone else. I’m scared because I like pain so much. I’m scared everything is for nothing.
“Please Have Your Identity Codes Visible” The Voice by the library entrance announces everything everywhere: bus doors closing, measures how much money you owe at the grocery store, calls you when your pills are at the pharmacy. Automation domination. Why should anyone do something as fucking mundane as drive a bus, help you at a grocery store, fill a prescription? The only places where real people work any more is at libraries. Everything else is a goddamn robot. People don’t even make robots any more; robots make robots. It irritates me that no one is really in charge except the robots. I flash my wrist at the scanner by a concrete column and the door to the library opens into the wide aisle of books where I work. This makes me happy, not the pill. I like being a scribe.
The cleaner has been at my carrell again. Its clumsy mechanical arms have knocked over the inks, stains, and brushes. Some ink bled onto the manuscript page I painted yesterday. A few characters are cloudy and I’m going to have to redo the whole goddamn thing. Shit. I tear the parchment up. I’m angry, fast.
“Is anything wrong?” The Voice echoes out of the ceiling.
I see the red light of a camera on a bookshelf. It’s something I’m not supposed to notice. “No. I’m fine. Happy to be able to repaint the page!” I look down. I won’t let the lens catch my eyes. I bounce and hum as I get another sheet out and smooth it onto my work area. I act out what I think is happy behavior to fool The Voice. The last thing I need is spending two weeks at a MedPol facility getting ass-fucked by a robot. I told you they want to know why EAS craps out on the happy part with me. Ass-fuckings are part of their research. When they take you in for evaluation, you get anally penetrated by a cold steel rod. The EAS blocks the pain, but then they ask you how you feel about the shaft up your ass. The pill is supposed to make you apathetic. You’re supposed to answer that you don’t care. My involuntary answer is usually this:
“Take that motherfucking dildo out of my motherfucking ass you sick fucks.”
Oops. Wrong answer. They’d be looking for a happy fuckee, not me. The robotic evaluator will schedule another test for the next day to see if my answer changes. It usually takes about 14 days for me to get it right. I’ve been to 8 evaluations and they still can’t “fix” me. I don’t want to make it 9 so I paint on the parchment all day at my carrell with a big shit-eating grin covering my face.
The wind is cold walking home. I leave my jacket open so the cameras will all see how pain free I am. Smiles for every street corner, mailbox, parking meter. See, you fucking Voice, I’m a happy motherfucker. Can’t catch me in a bad mood! The swarms of the EAS swallows swoop past me down the street into the cold evening. I wonder if those fuckers sleep or are they just so blissed out all they do is perform that roaming en masse ballet day and night.
I’m almost at my apartment building. A mirror-eyed bug hovers in front of me. I don’t want to stop for draining. I want to run inside my apartment, shut the door, and order in a case of bacterial meningitis or pancreatic cancer, something painful and directly dangerous to my life. I want to feel everything without feeling watched, judged. But I stand still in front of the insect, looking at my own eyes looking at me. What’s the matter? Don’t you love yourself? That lonely question comes from inside the bug. It stabs me. I don’t even feel a tingle. Shit. I let it finish.
I don’t see any fucking roaches inside the building. Either the super is an extermination genius or the roaches were in my brain. The light fixture glows bright overhead. The floor is shiny. It smells like pine. If the thousands of bugs aren’t real then this clean hallway can be a hallucination too. I run for my door. I just want to be alone where I don’t have to be scared of being scared, being found a fraud, half a man who doesn’t feel what everyone feels, feels different, enjoys pain. Reality shifts and the pill modifies for it. Reality shifts again and I’m left questioning every fucking thing in the world.
It sucks. I’ve tried everything else. Tomorrow morning I’ll overdose on EAS like the swallows and see if I can join the flock.