The Poison Shop
“What’s your poison?” Shop Tender asks, his face a winter of expression. Years of truth spoken ironically have effaced any natural emotion.
“Talon-4,” I say.
His face does not even twitch, but a pause shows his surprise. “You sure? I ain’t paying to get your rigor-mortass carted away.”
He types in the charge—$4300—and I look into the green LED on the bar. I get a brief mental image of the amount before the light blinks, transaction complete. Mr. Tender places a thin purple vial and compressed air injector on the counter.
Finally, a smile cracks the frozen line of his mouth. “Hipster.”
I get my syringe and take it and the vial back to a dark corner. A couple other patrons are about, lying dead to the world in various positions of repose.
I don’t like the dull emptiness of air injectors. I need that small prick of pain, a last quivering match-flame of life, before all goes black. I feel the dull burn begin as the poison starts to work through my system. It spreads like a black glow through my veins and I can feel the world wavering. I have sworn before that I have heard the last thump of my heart before it stops beating but this time I am sure of it. It sounds like a final drumbeat before the silence settles in and oblivion cascades over my senses.
I never know how long the darkness lasts, in that middle-world devoid of sensation, but after what seems like soon, the mist begins to burn away and I am standing on a dim street near a iron-fenced orphanage. The death-euphoria is building and I practically skip as I walk through the fence and the wall of the building. The weather is sepulchral, but in my mind, it is the first of June.
I do not have a plan, but the death-euphoria gives a sense of purpose to any action and so in the universe of my mind, I am on a quest, and discovering it moment by moment. Every detail seems significant—every stone and errant leaf preordained for this moment.
In the lobby, a woman is screaming noiselessly, like a TV on mute. A child is lying on the floor, her lips a familiar grey and her eyes large and bulging. Based on her appearance, I could name all five of the possible poisons that killed her, although they are all rare enough that I wonder how she got it. More children peek in arrested horror through the upstairs banister. Several people are talking on phones, silently pleading urgency. I notice a calendar on the wall.
For a moment, nothing seems strange, until I notice that it is for one month in the future. The death-euphoria is wearing off, and I feel my mind begin that slow, sickening knotting that precedes revival. I begin telescoping, the rest of my vision skewing into the periphery as my eyes burn into the calendar. It’s wrong, wrong. This is the future. My mind starts telescoping too, with those two words banging like a gong in my head: WRONG. FUTURE. WRONG. FUTURE. WRONG WRONG WRONG.
I open my eyes to find myself in the dark corner of the poison shop. My spirit is filled and slopping over with the noxious effects of after-death. Nothing lasts forever for those such as I, not even death.
(to be continued soon)