The International Writers Magazine: Who knows when it started...
Its not so much of a grand
mystery now, sitting in this waiting area, tubes coming out of
my body, crappy little hospital gown, body shivering uncontrollably
from the AC and the meds. It doesnt really matter now anyway.
I never paid attention to the warnings, the emerging side effects,
and the slow build of the body count. I didnt listen, I
was too busy talking. Look at me now.
It looks like no
one else bothered to pay attention either. The waiting room is packed,
and the hallway is lined with men, women, even kids, who are all suffering
the same crushing agony as I am. This is it, folks. We went along for
the ride, and we have now all ended up in the exact same place, at nearly
the same time. The culmination of global self absorption, self gratification,
pop culture peer pressure, and vanity, leading every one of us to this
very place in time.
Welcome to the new plague. This one only took about 20 years to manifest.
It will wipe out 50% of the planet within two years. The people left
to carry on will be the ones we used to consider the poorest, the least
advanced, and the most primitive. The irony is so thick it cant
be measured. God, how I envy them now. A year ago Ill bet they
I can remember my first time using. Well, I can kind of remember it.
I was young, 23 at the time, and traveling for business, feeling like
a big shot. I can also remember thinking, "this might not be too
healthy". But hey, other people were starting to do it, and there
was no denying the "coolness" of it, the "pop couture"
of it. What started out as a fad, a hipness indicator, quickly morphed
into a permanent accessory. By the time it hit the mainstream, I was
using maybe 30 times a day, and everyone around me was too.
Back to now. Pain, searing headaches, crushing nausea, eminent death.
There is nothing they can do for me or anyone else in this hospital.
Were the walking, rolling, crawling, crying, dying victims of
a plague that is sweeping the Earth, and as of today, there seems to
be no cure. Hundreds of millions of people, with bubbling, hemorrhaging
brains. No more words are needed. Theyve all been spoken, ad nausea.
I hope, pray, beg for relief. I rail at the lack of foresight I displayed
as I willingly subjected myself to forces I knew nothing about. I wonder
how many deaths Ive contributed to, how many contributed to mine.
This was truly a virtually viral virus. No beginning, one end.
I live in regret that I will not be able to make a lasting mark on this
Earth. I welcome eternal sleep. The pain is too great.
Junkies, we just kept on using and using and using and using, all the
while making other people rich beyond their wildest dreams, while we
lapped up every new marketing gimmick, every new enhancement. Stupid
unthinking junkies. What did we expect for our lack of sense?
Back to now. I can barely stay focused. The woman next to me has blood
coming out of her ear. Right ear. I know this bleeding, I have it to.
I used that way for years. She is whimpering, maybe praying, I dont
know because I cant hear her. I can hardly hear anything anymore.
That started first, then the skull splitting headaches, then the blurred
vision. The vision cleared up as soon as I stopped using, but the headaches
and the hearing loss and the lack of appetite all continue to consume
me, my energy, and my life.
Oh. There is a boy, maybe 17. He just slid off his chair. Hes
dead, no doubt about it. Ive seen it too many times in the past
three weeks. Dead as a door nail. Nobody moves, only a few of us in
this overcrowded waiting room even look at the boys body. His
face, now at peace, is a mass of lesions, looks like a bad black and
blue mark but we all know its worse. We know how he got it. Like the
lady next to me, who has wrapped a rag around her head to keep her ear
from bleeding out, we all know what delivered us here. This plague will
get us all in the end. There will be no one left to talk to.
I can hear something now, faint. I strain with my good ear, my left
one, to pick up the sound. Others hear it too. Someone laughs, a laugh
of utter capitulation. One woman cries out in anguish at the sound.
It is the plague calling, we can hear it growing louder now.
It is coming from the dead boys pocket. Too late, he cant
answer it, his stupid, death carrying cell phone going off in his pocket,
the default ring tone of a Nokia 6210 pinging away. Who on Earth would
be calling him? Maybe its not a call from Earth. Maybe God has a cell
If He does, I hope hes got good life insurance
Donoghue November 2005
Truth about Starbucks
stories in Dreamscapes
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