Humanity was churning in a gaseous plasmodic mess of fluid production and miscommunication, several stars exploded at once, and Jane and Susan Prethert were wed on the courthouse steps in Chepanakwee, Alabama, while the local police stood watch in SWAT faceplates to make sure that nobody could kill these two women in the heat of the moment before they could be properly questioned and arrested. That was Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the news reported that the number of buildings exploding because of people walking inside of them while strapped with explosives that had been attached to them by pickpockets who had been recruited by special terrorism units in Azerbaijan (the country) was on the rise, following the American President's statement that he was, in fact, the first direct descendant of God to take the throne in any major contending nation since the death of Hirohito. In the AP wire sent out on Monday, his direct quote had been “we are a Christian nation, and there is no question that prophets have continued to live among us to this day- the direct connection to Our Heavenly Father has remained untouched since the time of the Old Testament, and I intend to remind the public that I am part of the Divine Plan, just as they. We stand united, and we stand in truth.”
On Thursday, stock options for Prosolveril B went public. Prosolveril was the first over-the-counter clinical antidepressant, following the declaration of the FDA (the chief executives of which had been given trial runs of the drug, leading to their claim that “if we could put it in the water, we would. We put it in the water that we give to our kids, and they're finally starting to shape up into something really great.”) that it was the greatest breakthrough in personal mental health since jogging and sex- both of which were too bound up by litigation at this point to be much fun.
Susan Galston, the de facto head of the Prosolveril initiative, rang the bell on Wall Street that morning, despite the warnings of the Christian Science Militia (the radical anti-pharma group that had been growing steadily more angry since the leaks indicating the drug's soon-to-be prominence to the press) that “today, it's about Bears and Bullets.” Holding her hands high in her stunning red velour blazer by Louis Vitton's “Business Bitches” subsidiary, Susan shouted out “LET THE NEW ERA OF HAPPINESS RING THROUGH US ALL!” This was met with wild cheers, and trades of quantities of cash that would make private school college funds blush.
The arrival of Prosolveril had lit the press up like Ma Bell's phone stations during the suicide call-riddled holidays. Susan's face and the floating shape of the hexagonal robin's egg-tinged pill were now never far from urban eyes, always with a buffet's worth of positive synonyms- “Smiles for Miles” on USA Weekend, “The Future is Nigh: How Susan Galston and Applied Chem made endorphins as easy to buy as Tic-Tacs” graced Time along with a picture of her face with the pill dead center between her eyes, implying- as many had suspected- that maybe this was an essential part of our human evolution. That we were taking our minds back.
“According to the double-blind studies done by both your own private laboratories and a variety of independent researchers at universities across the country, Prosolveril B is more than an anti-depressant; it appears to generally align the chemical balances of the mind to an overall ideal state. What was the inspiration for developing something so all-purpose?”
Susan flashed her Television smile- “Brian, we need to be able to make quantum leaps. The inspiration is really nothing more than necessity- if you're going to make a product, the first step is to make sure that you're really filling a need. There are enough novelty pot holders out there to fill a few junkyards, and with my team it was difficult to shoot for anything but the best that we could achieve. So the question we started with was ‘what does everyone need'? Happiness seems like a vague answer, but the fact is that the mind's chemical and electrical impulses react pretty much universally, across all demographic lines, during states of euphoria and contentment. The next step was to figure out how to average the catalysts for these states out so that one combination of chemicals could accommodate the neurology and biology of as many people as possible.”
“That's incredible, just amazing. This is the kind of breakthrough that comes along only once in a long time- you may just prove to be the Jonas Salk of the mind.”
Tight-lipped downward smile of restrained self-pride, then “That's all up to the people. We'll see were Prosolveril takes them, and if it's as beautiful a world as we've been aiming for, then we may never need to worry about having heroes again. If everybody's happy, there are no villains or issues left to defeat.”
On Friday, the stock charts were upward slopes on a Kilimanjaro scale.
Prosolveril B takes an estimated five days of regular consumption to take full effect, though users in the early days regularly reported feelings of well-being and mental/emotional clarity occurring within a few hours.
“It has all the pep of addy, and the power of xanny and lexa', but without any of that ‘butrin scariness or that ‘zac-y aftershock you get so often. I like it.”
“I mean I'm buzzing, for sure, it's different, but the thing is the whole problem was that, you know, I felt different than I should have, I guess- so you know maybe it'll take some getting used to but so far it's great, man, we'll see how it goes.”
“This is some Gandhi shit- I seriously wanna just like do good. I feel totally cleared up, like the difference between a really grimy windshield and then some street guy comes up and wipes it down. So yeah, no, I'm not all the way yet, it's not like a car wash, but I seriously feel way excited and I think that when some of the newness of it wears down I'll be able to figure out how to USE this feeling, instead of just being kinda blissed out and manic, which is where I've been for about fifteen minutes now.”
By the time the five day “baited breath” period was up, sales were smashing any expectation as breezy citizens feeling the drafts up their formerly stifling Dockers waved happily at neighbors, bosses, and men playing saxophone and wearing raccoon furs on top of clusters of buckets in subway stations. The world unfolded like a perfectly color-corrected and choreographed commercial, with lines coming out so unbelievably cliche that the comfort was almost disconcerting. “Wow, Greg, you really seem like something else today- on fire. What's got you all happy?” Greg grins merrily and sincerely, pulling a little dispenser like a birth control peppermint patty from his back pocket- “Prosolveril B- it's amazing. I have more energy than I've felt since college, probably, and I'm just so focused and involved with everything.”
“And you say that I can have this feeling, too, and all I need to do is stop by my nearest shopping center or pharmacy? Tell me more!” Fine print runs over their faces as they walk slow motion through the office hallway, which fills with light until eventually the screen is saturated. Reintroduce color, and the two chums are now on a fishing trip, laughing, pointing, holding on to the same rod while Greg gestures wisely toward the fish just beneath the surface. Cut to their late night campfire, more laughter.
Stephan Amberson was sitting in his modest office on the thirteenth floor of the Applied Chem regional headquarters in Spokane, flipping through reports on every major bane or boon facing the company, and finding unnervingly few banes. “Jeeeeeesus,” he muttered to himself, “we might as well just airdrop Pro-B over Africa instead of Pop Tarts and condoms.”
“Hey, those condoms have prevented at least five cases of AIDS this decade.”
“That's what we get for not printing the instructions in Swahili. But seriously, man, this is incredible- it's like we made Star Wars into a pill and set it loose at Comic-Con- absolutely everybody with more than fifty dollars to their name has picked up a package.”
Chris from down the hall refilled his half-empty coffee. “I mean that was the point. Accessibility, universality, the whole corporate jargon run that Susan's got us all reciting. We might as well work up a fuckin' company cheer.”
“Yeah, well, this is initial excitement. I mean, I wanna use words like ‘hooked,' here- will we get everybody ‘hooked' on it? Is that even right? Is that what we're going for.”
“Hey, ‘hooked' only works if you don't think it's essential. The question, for AC, is whether it's gonna work.”
Stephan sighed, wishing he could just own up that cigarettes made way more sense to him than living some pleasant synthesis- no matter how much it made your “stomach feel like a Christmas tree,” as one user reported. “If it keeps up like this, it's just going to become a basic component of life, man. As basic as eggs.”
“Well imitations will take a knock at profits soon enough. People are already working on mock formulas.”
Stephan shook his head. “Galston and the legal depo have the patent locked up 100%. There was so much backing for this thing, they even bought the rights to the analogues of the chemical structure. You couldn't make a fifth cousin to Pro-B and not end up pantless before the supreme court.”
“A-merica-men.” Chris was a slurper. Stephan's brain habitually spouted to its own skeletal walls “I mean I know the coffee is hot, but damn.”
All rights reserved.
This is the beginning of a work related to a concept that has been floating around in my head for about a week. This is going to take a lot of turns and be reworked thoroughly, but since I haven't written much narrative fiction in a long time I was eager to share what little I had.