Tuesday, February 26, 2013


He breathed like air was the cure and the disease.

“I can’t,” he said. Lowered brow. Wild eyes. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I c—” His breath hitched. He lowered his forehead to the dull surface of the table.

After a long time, he looked up. The sun had shifted and he sat in the glare. He felt clearer. Calmer, in the setting light of the sun, buttery orange. The sunset was unremarkable, like thousands he’d seen before.

All was quiet. He closed his eyes. There was no one there to see him smile at the dinged kitchen table in front of him, scuffed by many happy family members’ knives and forks.

No one to see his pale skin made golden in the light, his hair turned butterscotch. He opened eyes made of amber and honey and stared straight into the light until his vision was dominated by a radiating ultraviolet sphere.

As long as he didn’t move, he could ignore it. As long as he didn’t think about anything at all or anyone at all—

The left side of his vision came to life. Words scrawled across the dining table, the wall, the window in front of him, the sun itself. No matter where he looked, the text was there. Words and numbers. Statistics.

He tried to look away and not read it. He tried to clear his head again and think of nothing but the cold metal in his palm, but he relented.

7:34 PM - 16 August 2054 − 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tracking location….
Location Out of Range
Current Assessment: State of Crisis…
Psychological Peril Detected
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately

I am, he thought.

His mother’s face flashed in front of him. Gaunt, angular, expressionless. He felt no remorse, only the emptiness he now recognized as his inability to love her.

She was the person responsible for the gun he held in his hand.

The weight of it was like a promise fulfilled. It was a measured delight he took no remorse in acknowledging. He edged his eyes right, trying to outrun the feed in front of him as it shifted and swirled with his thoughts.

He almost laughed as he brought the gun to his temple. His last attempt—through the mouth, the tang of metal on his tongue—had caused a cataclysmic panic to rise inside him.

It would have to be through the temple.

As he pressed the gun to his head, he remembered—those lines he’d made sure to memorize. They were whispered in his ear gently, rhythmically, and were then echoed in the scrolling feed.

I grow old ... I grow old ... 
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

The reminder was almost enough to make him lower the gun. The note. He never did get around to writing it. The IS feed in his brain made it impossible for him to forget anything, but it didn’t chime in reminders like an anxious parent.

Every thought, every image associated with parents and notes and poetry scrolled in front of him. His mother bringing a syringe to his neck. This will hurt, she said.

He slowed his breathing and remembered a time when he wasn't a fully-functioning hard drive. He put his finger on the safety.

The feed spun.

Death… Afterlife?… Gun… Bullet… Hurt… Will it hurt?… The fear… the fear… the fear… the gun… The trigger. Pull it. Pull it. Is this it?

From the door came a sharp knock.


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