I got a friend who’s always trying to game the system somehow. When we were roommates in college, he was the kind of guy who only showed up to class during midterm exams. He was pretty smart, but also pretty lazy.
Recently, he told me he’d been laid off from his job, but he wasn’t worried. He’d found a lot of sneaky ways to get some income. One of which he told me to try myself, which is what I did. And at first, it worked pretty good.
But then I got curious, and that’s when things started to get out of control.
It all started when he had knee surgery. The gave him tons of painkillers, and he said that halfway through his recovery, he had an idea. He would see how much pain he would withstand without taking the pills. But he would keep telling his doctor that the pain was excruciating. So the doc, or course, kept giving him pills.
This went on for several months. After which my friend had a huge supply of some very powerful opiates. I think the were oxy something other. But here’s the real kicker. He said he sold them all for sixteen grand. I guess those pills go for a lot on the black market.
That was a couple years ago. But he’s perfected his technique, and he said he’s making enough so that when he finally got downsized, he didn’t really worry too much.
He’s been trying to get me to try it, so I finally did. Because I don’t have any obvious injuries, they won’t really give me pain killers without at least giving me an X-ray. So I had to make up some psychological problems.
First, I said I was really anxious around other people. I was out of work, and I needed to go on job interviews, but I was too nervous to do any good. So they prescribed me a bunch of Xanax, which my buddy sold for a pretty good price.
Even though he kept fifty percent of the price, I still come out ahead. I guess with all the subsidies that are floating around, they’re cheap to buy, but on the street they’re worth a lot.
But then I started to get creative. I heard that they were always coming up with new drugs, so I started to just make up symptoms. Most of the time, they would give me something like Valium or something to calm me down.
But then this doctor asked me if I’d like to participate in this new drug trial. I figured why the hell not, right? But then I got kind of worried. They’d ask me about how the drugs were affecting me, and whether or not the symptoms were the same or different.
So I started to keep a notebook, and come up with a plausible and consistent story. Up to that point, I’d just been seeing different doctors, and I was just making stuff up off the top of my head.
But since I had to keep things on the level, so to speak, I had to keep my story straight. But here’s where it kind of went sideways. Turns out this new drug is symptom dependent. Meaning it’s all part of the same treatment, but they adjust not only the dosage, but the actual mix each time.
And since my results were all messed up, since I wasn’t taking the drugs, I was worried they might wonder what the heck was up. About halfway through the study, I started to think was in over my head.
That’s why they decided to give me the drugs intravenously. They thought maybe the pills weren’t working, as maybe my digestion or stomach or something was having some kind of negative effect. I didn’t bother telling them that they weren’t have an effect because I wasn’t taking them. I was afraid I’d go to jail or something.
That’s when the weird results started happening. Only at first they weren’t weird at all. They were pretty awesome. I’d never felt better in my life. I don’t know what it was, but after every session I felt like I could do anything.
Which is why I made the first of many mistakes. I still had all the previous pills. I was going to wait until the end of the study, and then hand them over to my buddy, who’d sell them. But I didn’t. I took them.
Only a couple at first, then a lot more. Instead of enhancing my good mood, it made them a lot worse. I was actually blacking out.
The first time, I got home, and took a pill about 5 PM. The next thing I knew, it was the next morning and I was eating breakfast. I had cooked and eaten dinner the night before. Watched TV. Went to sleep, woke up, showered and shaved and made breakfast. And didn’t remember any of it.
I stopped taking the pills, but it was too late. I kept losing more and more time. I would suddenly find myself at home, looking at the results from the drug trial. A note from the doctor. Things I’d told them about my symptoms that I have no memory of.
But last week was the worst. The last thing I remember was Wednesday, when I was leaving work. The next thing I know, it’s Saturday morning. I woke up and immediately noticed that there was somebody else in bed with me.
Big deal, I got laid and didn’t remember, right? Wrong. I reached over to wake her up, and she was cold. Like clammy cold. I jumped out of bed, and checked her eyes. They’d been removed. So had her tongue.
I searched for my apartment, not sure what I should do. If I called 911 they’d throw me in jail for sure. I checked the fridge, but there was nothing.
But then something even stranger happened. I blacked out again. Next thing I knew, it was Monday afternoon, and I’m sitting at my desk at work. I’m all dressed, and I’m halfway through a report I don’t remember starting.
I head down to the bathroom, wondering if I should just hand myself over the cops. I overhear two of my colleagues in the bathroom talking about a woman found in the park. Without any eyes.
Now I’m really freaking out. I just called my buddy. The guy who is supposed to sell all the pills. The pills that are gone. The pills I’ve taken don’t remember. The number has been disconnected. I don’t know what’s happened to him.
I figure I’ll just roll with it. If I suddenly come to and I’m jail, I guess that’s that. But as I write this, I’m sitting in a Starbucks. And I’m looking out the window, and all the cars have license plates from a different state. And I’m not sure how I got here. Or where here is.
I guess I need to wrap this up. There’s another girl sitting at my table. I don’t recognize her. But she’s talking to me like she knows me.
I hope she won’t end up without any eyes somewhere.
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A boomtown on the edge of economic liftoff. An evil lawyer with inescapably psychotic power. When Marcus Canfield, an underachieving bartender realizes his gift has been reawakened, only to have the girl of his dreams snatched away, he knows he must stop the horrific threat to both her and the entire United States before it's too late.