Riktor ducked beneath a broken beam in the house and kept his live porta-mic on at his side. The satchel strapped around his left shoulder hugged him tightly.

“This is Rik Vance with Underground Union reporting to you from housing project 56.” He heard the groans coming from down the hallway and the din of unstoppable chatter coming from a floor above him. His eyes widened as he looked through two dark doorways at his side, waiting for an attack.

“It’s what I like to call the house of blues. You’ll understand in a second. Ladies and gentlemen the world is becoming wool to pull over your eyes, and it’s all thanks to Pharmceude Industries. I’m here at housing project 56 because this is where the products of a test gone horribly wrong were put to be forgotten. Like the crack houses of the 20th century, this place represents broken down souls, lost in addiction to what can only be described as popularity.”

The reporter glanced around a corner, noting a few individuals whimpering , curled up in make-shift beds of insulation foam and broken doorways. He winced and started to assess the situation in his mind, tapping the pistol he had at his side to make sure it was there. “Most of the underground kids listening know what I’m talking about. It’s not new, it’s just been put back on the market for those who can afford it. It’s called Notion, folks… and it may sound like a miracle, but if you could see what I see now, you’d know it was only paved with good intentions.”

A man glanced up, his eyes sunken in. He reached out for Riktor from afar before collapsing into sleep. Noises soon came from the stairs and two individuals, looking just as sunken as the man but dressed to go out, came down chatting up a storm. Riktor turned and looked at them in horror and sadness but nodded to them both as they passed him. “It was developed for those with social anxiety and Attention Deficit Disorder. What it became was escape, and this escape digs the hole deeper than you know. Notion is a blue biogel once known as Tetroglichen on the market a decade ago.” Riktor glanced back to the man who had passed out and walked over him, kneeling down to put a nutrient pill in his hand.

“Ask your children what it does, and if they tell you the details, then they are probably on it.” He sighed and stood back up, wiping his hands off and going towards the stairway. “Everyone wants to be popular, everyone wants to be the one running all the conversations. Notion blue can give that to you for a precious few hours.”

As he came to the top of the stairs, Riktor heard the noise of talking begin to rise, and he closed his eyes, knowing it would only get worse. “Save your kids. Save yourselves. You’re never too unpopular to work your way up, you’re never out of all the loops. For God’s sake, don’t take the easy way out.” He stepped onto the landing and saw three doorways where the noise was pouring out of and stepped towards one of them slowly.

“I was a Notioner once. I can remember every word spoken was as good as the first time you kiss, the first time you have sex and I wanted more. The need to have the person next to me speak almost as much as it was good to hear myself speak. I am ashamed I used to be like this.” There he stood before a room of individuals all talking, all smiling, all staring intently at the others’ lips in anticipation. Riktor took a step inside and the conversations continued without a foreseeable end.

“This is what you do when you think you’re a loser. It’s what you do when you think that no one will like you unless you’re like them. Drugs were once an indirect way of being social. Notion makes it as direct as a meteor crashing on your city.” He began to take pictures with his wrist-camera, watching as one had stopped talking and began to wander off outside the room. Riktor followed, watching the young girl cradle herself in her arms and slump against the wall. She was on the verge of tears by the time he came close.

“Your children can make friends like you did when you were young. Don’t watch them fall into blue, don’t let them be fake. Don’t ever let them be fake. Vik Out.” he knelt down and took her hand, but she pulled it back, and looked to him with large blue eyes. Her words were shaken but came out clear.

“Do… do you have blue?”

Riktor frowned and turned away, unable to watch. “No,” he said quietly.

She turned her gaze away and whispered back, “Then I don’t want to talk to you.”