The door opens on my approach with a friendly “ding” of welcome. I’d like the Chips even if this was the only cool thing they did. But they do a lot more, my arm hurting like hell being one of these extras. The syntomorphin’s effect has completely worn off by now. In the semi-darkness, I’m able to see the half-empty syringe on the table and eagerly I get another shot. As my arm goes numb, my anxiety and sorrow start to fade as well.
I’m awake in spite of the late hour; probably one of the drug’s side effects, or maybe it’s because Laura is dead and I start to feel like some huge piece of my life has just been torn and thrown in the garbage.
Lying on the bed, hoping for a couple of hours of sleep before going to work, I can’t help keeping my mind from wondering back; back to Laura, back to tonight, back to our last kiss; even farther, back to our first one. And I can’t help getting more and more angry.
I hated her from the start; from the first moment I met her. I hate her even more, now that she’s dead: I hate her for keeping it all inside, for not telling me anything, not even her family name; for never telling me the sweet lie that she loved me; for never letting me fall asleep into her arms. For leaving me alone now, cowardly quitting on me, just like Mom and Dad, uncle Bill and, most of all, Seth.
When I first met her, it was in the cemetery; she was eating a sandwich, her big butt sitting on Seth’s cross, her dangling feet tapping rhythmically on the postament. Blocked, shocked, outraged, unable to utter the slightest word, my eyes watery and my mouth dry, I dropped the few flowers I’d managed to buy at the cemetery entrance. She looked at me, wiped away some sandwich sauce of her lips and asked me serenely “this your grave?”. To my shocked silence, she replied that cemeteries were probably the last free places with green grass and enough silence as to really enjoy lunch. That everyday, she sat on a different grave. So I shouldn’t take it personal.
It was my first day out of the clinic. Five months before, I’d signed myself into the Zen Rehab Clinic after finally having realized that I’ve gotten addicted to chemically enhanced sodas: probably the perfect consumer the 17 would dream of, spending half of my monthly budget on six-packs of Coke, drinking daily almost 5 litters of the sugary, acidulated and caffeinated drinks. The five months of solitude, neo-new-age meditations and lots of shock therapies had nearly cured me; till that morning, when the feds came in to bring me the news of Seth’s death.
They said he’d been found guilty of terrorist activities and that the night he’d published his confession on the net, his confession of being a member of the freethinkers, the agents who entered his room only found a general mess and his dead body on the floor. They said that he’d committed suicide and I shouldn’t delude myself into believing the Net memes speculating he’s been secretly arrested and held prisoner in some torture camp, or even that he somehow managed to run away from the forces and was hiding away from the Chip surveillance network. None of the speculations were true, they said. Seth’s funeral had already been taken care of by the State and I shouldn’t worry about anything. Off course, should I know or learn anything involving my brother’s or any of his friends’ terrorist activities, I had to share the information immediately with the Bureau, not doing so being an act of treason.
Laura had listened to my story quietly, smiled a bit sadly, took my hand and kissed me. She spent the day listening to my stories about my magical brother. That night, we fucked savagely and desperately. That night and every week after. Until now.
Tonight was our second anniversary; obviously, it was my brother’s death commemoration as well. I haven’t spent much time remembering him; I was too busy trying to mend my life back, to find a job and trying to convince Laura into marrying me, in spite of her constant talks about suicide. I didn’t love her and she didn’t love me either; but after Seth had left me alone, I needed something solid in my life to cling onto. And now she’s gone too.
We’ve dined at some Italian franchise fast food belonging, I guess, to the Coke Company; our Hindi waiter’s name was Giuseppe, I spent half of the evening trying to convince him that I didn’t drink any of Coke’s chemical beverages, that I only wanted to drink flat water, as pure as he could get me. Laura was wearing her Goth outfit, piercing and all, black mascara spread on her eyelids, like some 20th century rock star. She had a pretty necklace, an ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail; symbol of rebirth and resurrection. I remember thinking it must have been a rental; private persons rarely could afford paying the copyright fees for owning such trademarked items, not since copyrights have been extended to all wide-circulation symbols. She was depressed and would barely talk; I should have guessed she was on the verge of suicide, from the way she savagely kissed and fucked me when we got out of the place. It was probably her way of saying she hated me, she hated life; or maybe it was her way of saying good-bye. I guess I’ll never know…
I must be dreaming now since Laura is here, near me; we’re in the street corner, by the restaurant’s exit. Laura’s lips are dry, she tastes like plastic; she smells rotten, like a dead person does. Her skin is blue; she is cold, so cold that I shiver. Her tongue tastes sour; it forcefully goes down my throat, deeper and deeper, suffocating. I must be dreaming, and try to wake up. Great. I’m in my room, in my bed. I must be dreaming, ‘cause there’s somebody sitting by my side, watching me from the shadow. I must be dreaming,’cause I think I recognise him. I must be dreaming,’cause in spite of the rotten smell, the beard, the long dirty hair and the cuts on his face, I think I recognise Seth.