You control yourself. He smiles at you. It makes you feel good. \n\n"Now, that's better," he says.\n\nYou smell mint. \n\nYou inhale, trying to find the scent, but you only get deep ozone. You move your hand to your face. You feel the tubes running up into your nose, the elastic band holding it to your face. \n\nYou see your wrinkled hand.\n\nYou are so old. You are only twenty two.\n\n[[Speak.]]\n[[Stay silent.]]
Pain in your lower back.\n\nYou gasp.\n\n[[Stay still.]]
You raise your hand to grab his and push it away. Your wrinkled appendage comes into view. Wires and tubes push out from the veins on the top of your hand. \n\nYou are wrinkled and old. You are in a bed topped with a white blanket.\n\nYou are only twenty two.\n\n[[Speak.]]\n[[Stay silent.]]\n
is.\n\n[[rumble.]]\n[[against.]]\n[[hit hit hit.]]
<html>\n<center>\n<b>Or, What Is It Like To Be A Thing?</b>\n<br>\n<br>\nby Kunzelman<br></center></html>\n\n*[[Take a deep breath.]]\n
You breathe faster.\n\nThe nurse places his hand on your chest. \n\n"Slow down," he says. His voice is like honey. You want to do what he asks you to.\n\n[[Breathe slower.]]\n[[Grab his hand.]]\n[[Stop breathing.]]
"...which is why we are now contractually obligated."\n\n[[Crackle. Howl.]]
You were five years old and your hands were all bloody from falling, but you were too scared to cry, and by the time they caught you there was blood running down your hands in tiny rivulets.\n\nThere were times, later, when you would remember it. You could see it, in half-dreams, tiny torrents of dark red trailing off and down and dripping. \n\nAnd when you saw it, really saw it, you felt like they had caught you all over again.\n\n[[Fade in.|Respond.]]
The nurse stands up straight. He towers over you.\n\n"Listen carefully," he says as he walks around your bed. It is only now that you are actually looking around. You are in a small, gray room. Light comes from somewhere. You can't move your neck to the left or the right. You can't see a door.\n\n" the context of the contractual agreement that the corporation you signed on with made at the time, of course." \n\nHe laughs a little.\n\n"That would be terrible, wouldn't it?" He winks at you. \n\nThe nurse walks out of your line of sight. Papers shuffle. He comes back with a photograph. He holds it in front of your face.\n\n"This is what happened to you."\n\n[[Look at the photograph.]]\n[[Close your eyes.]]
be.\n\nis. \n\nbe.\n\nalways.\n\n[[be.|End.]]
"It looks like you're just like the rest," the nurse says.\n\nExasperation colors his voice.\n\nHe stands up and walks around your bed.\n\nYou are in a bed, of course. You try to look around, but you can't move your neck. The room is small and gray. \n\nHe moves out of your line of sight. You hear papers shuffling.\n\nHe comes back and holds a photograph in front of you.\n\n[[Close your eyes.]]\n[[Look at the photograph.]]
"There you are." \n\nThe nurse smiles down at you. You open your mouth and take deep, gasping breaths. You can't get enough. You can't breathe.\n\n"Slow down," he says, looking over you and smiling.\n\n[[Breathe slower.]]\n[[Breathe faster.]]\n[[Stop breathing.]]
" per our agreement with the Northern Direction Alignment Association, your excess mass will be turned into quantifiable carbon credits, which will be assessed at a value no less than the cost of maintenance, staffing, and other managerial costs that have been accrued during your tenure here at..."\n\nThe light gets brighter around you.\n\nThe humming reaches a fever pitch.\n\n[[Fade.]]
eat\n\nhunger\n\n[[PING PING PING PING PING PING|bat1]]\n\n[[PING PING PING PING|bat2]]\n\n[[PINGPING]]
Or, What Is It Like To Be A Thing?
A color photograph cropped from a larger scene. A large truck is crumpled against a pylon. A woman in the lower right corner screams, one hand held comically up against her face like in an old film. She does not have another hand. \n\nThe principle color of the photograph is red. \n\nThe nurse's finger enters the photograph. He points. \n\nYou see.\n\n"As I said before..." he begins.\n\n[[The principle color of the photograph is red.]]
He lets out a sigh.\n\nYou hear papers shuffle.\n\nA click. A hum.\n\n[[Open your eyes.]]
You open your mouth to speak and a crackle fills the room. The cry of a crow. \n\nYou try again. Rusting metal.\n\nThe nurse looks down at you. There is pity in his eyes. \n\n"Most of you don't take it that well, you know that?" He chuckles to himself. "It's rare that I even hear that much of a racket. Some die of a heart attack right about now. But not you. You've got something amazing inside of you."\n\nHis smile widens.\n\n[[Listen.]]
"...and in accordance with the Science Bill 13.17, you will be reduced in mass. Our office prides itself on its ethical stance when it comes to..."\n\n[[Listen.|More speech.]]\n\n
.passage { width: 500px !important }\n
There is a hum.\n\nThe nurse is speaking over it.\n\n"...with section 441(a) of the Rights Availability and Dissolution Code, which can be found in the handbook of the same name, in conjunction with the necessary sections of the R.A.I.N. Act. This machine is rated for safety by the appropriate members of the select organizations of our industry, and the inspectors can be found in the pamphlet on display in our lobby area."\n\nThere is a hum.\n\nThe light in the room gets brighter.\n\n[[Sit up.]]\n[[Stay still.]]
The nurse is standing in front of you. He is looking at his watch.\n\n"Aaaaaand, thirty. Thank you. Your consent is appreciated."\n\nThe humming is a whine. \n\nThe nurse walks out of your line of sight. \n\n"Thank you for your stay here."\n\n[[Crash.]]\n[[Ping.]]\n[[Hiss.]]
out.\n\nout.\n\nout.\n\n[[PINGPINGPING PINGPINGPING|bat1]]\n\n[[PINGPING]]
out.\n\nout.\n\n[[PINGPING PINGPING PIPIPIPI|bat3]]\n
Two spokes broke and the front tire sagged into the ground at just the wrong time. \n\nYou went flying up above the bars.\n\nThe world inverted, the pavement was above you, and the screaming didn't taper off for a long time.\n\n[[Open your eyes.]]
You remember that night in September when the wind was just right and the clouds over the water tower touched down in a flash of light.\n\nThe sudden crash scared you, and the afterimage burned into everything. The television cut in two.\n\n"The change," the news anchor read, "is important because it grants rights of."\n\nAnd it cut off, just like that, and you were in the dark for two days afterward.\n\n[[Wait.]]
You hold your breath. \n\nThe nurse shakes you, his faint smile fading into a call for help, and by the time he starts to scream for a doctor, you are losing sound. \n\nA heartbeat drums in your head. \n\nFade to black.\n\n[[Take a deep breath.]]\n
hit\n\nhit hit hit hit hit hit hit hit hit\n\nhit hit \n\nhit hit hit hit hit hit hit\n\nhit\n\n[[be.]]
scrape.\n\nover. over. over.\n\nrumble.\n\n[[against.]]
<html>\n<center>\n<b>Or, What Is It Like To Be A Thing?</b>\n<br>\n<br>\nby Kunzelman<br></center></html>
be.\n\neverything; already\n\n[[every time]]\n