It amuses me how many books were never lost. Though the cities crumbled and the libraries burned down, the data remained. As society slipped into the black hole it had birthed upon itself, the matter was destroyed but the information remained intact.
Granted, it took a few hundred years for the new colonies to unscramble the data, but it was all there. From Harry Potter to Tolkien, from the Hunger Games to Divergent to the script of Interstellar. These words and images were refined into shots for dispersion. At first all you had to do was take a walk to the drug store, purchase a pack, and head home, but the stories were too good, too great, too easy an escape.
Within a few years, the books were banned, but junkies kept them in the back allies and unlit halls, spreading these memories like a disease.
My friend Tabitha got too caught up, soon enough she couldn’t tell a horse from a Hippogryph or a sunrise from the eye of Sauron. She got locked up. I heard she still screams as she breaks the glass and the whole world shatters.
The truth is, I slip too. That’s what they call it, slipping. Back before only the data remained, you followed the words, they called it reading, but now it’s just a shot and reality slides away. For a while, you’re gone. It’s pure bliss.
But I gotta take it slow, can’t end up like Tabitha. Or James. Demal. Alicia. Collin. Won’t get myself locked up, not like that. Not ever.
There’s a soft spot on my wrist where the blank page fades away. I push my leather wristband down and see that small patch of blue and brown, always bruised, always fresh and raw like the stories I slip in. The books are glass capsules the size of fingertips, one end chiseled to a point. It just looks like water till it hits the air, then it shines in all the colors of the story inside.
As it drains into the syringe, this one turns green and yellow, a rich russet brown. The Canterbury Tales. A classic. I love the fresh air, the sound of streams, the scent of pine needles in the brush. I don’t feel it anymore when the needle goes inside, when the words fill my veins. Instead this bleak horizon starts to blur, to blend, and suddenly, softly, I’m standing in a castle.
Time for the story to sweep me away.