We were just 10 at the time, I know you don’t believe me, that’s to be expected. Gary was the first to die. He never accepted its power, not once. I did. When we discovered it, we grabbed it, clutched it in our hands, felt its vibrations though never fully understood its force. I blinked and became 11, just like that. The power was obvious. I was bigger now than Stevie, which I especially liked. I blinked again and was 20, which I liked maybe even more, and not just to get back at people, but it was hard, you know, so cut off from my past, and so I blinked again, 30, the perfect age, and that’s when I gave it up, I didn’t want to shift anymore. But life for me then was not as I imagined it to be, not as fun, not as free, but I couldn’t go back. I overheard this woman in the break room, she was 50, a little over, in fact, and happy, though her job was worse than mine. I forget who she was speaking with, but you could hear the lilt in her voice, the bounce, she was talking about how her third child, her youngest, had just graduated college and was living with someone nice, and she — the 50 year old — wanted to get out, experience life like everyone else, take a job, even something low-level, and though I had my suspicions, I did it, blinked, and was 50. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad. But I vowed then to stop, no matter what, no matter who I heard, who I met, what I saw, how I felt, no more, the end. But I guess it doesn’t work that way, though. Once it has you in its hold, it has you forever. In a few blinks I went from 10 to 11 to 20 to 30 to 50 and vowed to stop but it didn’t care. Bam. 70. Old. And I can barely remember any of it. More than Gary, at least.
The bright melancholy of moonbase pharma. I sometimes wonder if my addiction is less to this feeling but more to the entire experience, the rising anxiety, the displaced breaths, racing heartbeat, the fear, shove it down, it fights its way back up, shove it down again, fight it again, lose the battle, allow it to overwhelm me, incite all my destructive impulses — I MUST GET OUT OF HERE! It took only three of them to hold me down this time, one to administer the shot, just like the very first time, back on the rocket. I was so eager to do this, make history, conquer new worlds, be made immortal, really, one of the few chosen on the world’s first private rocket trip to the moon, all my friends, my followers, the local media, strangers, all wanted to know me, congratulate me, talk about me, and the misgivings were always there, true, but they were small, like papercuts but on the inside, and even when they strapped me in I smiled, returned the thumps up sign, and the fear that took me when we blasted off I knew that was temporary, I was terrified of dying, terrified we might explode inside the capsule but within minutes, sure, it seemed like an eternity at the time, but it was just minutes and shortly the rocket was tearing through space on its way to the moon. Never to return. That was the first time they had to hold me down and administer the drugs, I did damage to the rocket but it was repairable, mostly, and that cast my commitment in doubt, I would forevermore be looked upon with suspicion, which I welcomed, I wanted them to loathe me, hate me, do whatever they could to send me back, but that was the thing, there was no back, none, just life on the moon, the next group of fifty would arrive in a year, then another after that, but the rockets were purposefully designed not to return, the entire enterprise demanded absolute fealty, else there would be only dilettantes, which they expressly forbade but somehow I had them fooled, I got through all their tests, all their empathy drills, the experience practicum, I think because I wanted so much to believe, I wanted to be known as one of the original leavers, like my Viking ancestors, I told myself, but it was a lie, a lie to them, a lie to the moonbase, a lie to myself. Sometimes I think I will get back at all of them by sabotaging this entire effort. I plot how to kill us all, it’s not so hard, and to end life here but for now the drugs work just enough.
We were certain this was going to work, certain he would love it. We gave him a small screen, one that fit perfectly in his tiny little boy hands. We hoped the images, smaller, more controllable, clutched in his fingers, would appease him. They did not. He sucked on the device for a moment, made a sour face, then began to smash it, just like every other one. Then he banged on the walls, just like always. What’s wrong with him, we wondered? We took him to several doctors but the news was always the same, always bad. He refuses to sit still and stare at a screen and probably always will. Meaning, few job prospects, no career opportunity, middling grades, no followers. He will probably always be dependent upon us.
Your eyes open, the sun burnt orange and blinding, you pull the covers over you, early morning brain squalid and leaking, the same song cycling through your head, the one playing when you fell asleep, and you try to bury your feelings, the world is constructed so that reaching out is punished and hand outs are commonplace, the full honesty of yourself not welcome, not needed, the world is not as it was nor how it’s supposed to be, you tell yourself this hoping this time you believe it, at least a badly constructed world is a reality you can grasp. There’s never been more collective power and yet we’ve never been more marginalized from our self, and you think this is clever but realize its best to hide the smile, keep your spirit buried, even from yourself, safer that way, tune out, turn off, fall in, just like your parents said, besides, your head hurts, best to keep your eyes closed till the sun passes. You hear a sound, a person you think, you turn fast, their eyes like a crow’s, you speak — I’m alive — but they do not affirm, just disappear, you are not sure why, not sure now what you saw, you roll over again and remember, it’s all an induced feeling, an artificial sequence, you had your consciousness digitized, you exist now inside a computer, this computer, its present manifestation being this room, those sensations you feel, arms, legs, a swollen head, those are not real, just synapses pre-programmed to help you transition. You’re going to live forever.