Part III: Wasting Thousands By The Hour - Chapters 38 - 42

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Chapter Thirty Eight

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are.

Weeks and months passed. The sun rose, the sun set, somewhere, supposedly, far up above. It didn't matter, most of my body couldn't feel warmth anyhow. Synthetic red lights and electronic voices in boxes were enough. The little dwarf brunette nurse tottered in with a tray full of liquids and little white spheres. There was something familiar about her. I lay back in the foldable bed.

"Close your eyes and stick out your tongue."

I did as I was told. When I swallowed, my throat constricted, my face grew numb, and I felt the cold heel of an army boot pressing into my chest. Piercing black and yellow dots danced behind my eyelids as I squeezed them shut tight.

"Thank you," I said.

"When you're ready for your next dosage, just whistle." I whistled immediately, but she was already out of earshot.

A lavender-haired lady who had that new car smell poked her head into my room instead. She jingle-jangled with bracelets, earrings, and lug nuts.

"Read your fortune, son?"

"All my fortune is in Generik municipal bonds."

She laughed, a horrible sound. "Hold out your hand." She flipped it over and examined it closely. "Oh my."

"What?"

"You tried to kill yourself. Once, maybe twice." She gazed at me with pity.

"You can tell that from looking at my palm?"

"I can tell that from looking at your wrist."

"I don't remember. It must've been during the last popular teenage angst period. Everyone was doing it." She jingle-jangled while attempting to pull something out from between the many folds of paisley fabric she wore.

"Here." She handed me a small parcel wrapped in a Southwestern-print bandana. She rose to leave, staring at me as though I was the sorriest sad sack she'd ever seen, and sniffling into another Southwestern-print bandana. I unrolled the fabric. Inside was a faintly glowing, bright green pill.

I threw it hard against the wall. I was so sick of that thing turning up.

# #

"It's time for your medicine, Jonah." Doctor stood over me with stethoscope and needle.

"You look familiar." It seemed to be a recurring notion these days. Practically everyone in Generiatric Springs Resort seemed to resemble somebody from my past.

"I'm just the resident doctor here, making sure you're doing alright—taking your medicine, proceeding at the proper rate." He tinkered around with something at my side. I craned my neck to see what it was. Doctor was inserting various colored coins into the slots on my acu-tank. Plink! I coughed. Something was off.

"Doctor, have you been making modifications to my tank? I know I had the latest model installed—platinum-iron alloy, 100% rust-proof and the lightest weight to ever be manufactured in its class. This one..." I knocked my knuckles gently against it. "This one must be some sort of cadmium derivative, and it seems heavier." I could feel myself losing my sense of smell the instant the words were out of my mouth.

"Nothing to worry about, just a temporary adjustment. Haven't the products I've so flawlessly installed in you always been top-of-the-line?" He grinned in that Cheshire-cat way that people always do when they're in the process of screwing you over. I was helpless to do anything about it though, and only cared half as much as I ought to.

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