Author : Tony Pacitti

Jack pulled a SimStik out of its small plastic container and placed it between his lips. Alice cleared her throat and looked at him through drunk eyes and a patch of blonde, wind blown hair.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, the SimStik bobbing up and down as he spoke. He gave her one, put the pack back in his pocket and began patting himself down.

“What’sa matter?” she asked as she pulled a drag off her SimStik.

“Oh, nothing.” Jack smiled and laughed at himself. “I smoked when I was a kid. You know, actually smoked. Sometimes I forget you don’t need a lighter for these things. Force of habit.”

Alice’s eyes slowly fell shut, heavy with a night’s worth of drinking then snapped back open.

“I smoked once.” She stumbled and Jack reached out quick to grab her arm. She went on talking as if nothing had happened. “In college. Some guy I knew knew a guy who had a friend whose brother-in-law grew tobacco in his basement.”

“Sounds sketchy.”

“But that was the fun of it! Smoking real tobacco rolled in paper. Man…I knew, just knew we’d get busted at any second,” She laughed and leaned in, putting her head on Jack’s shoulder and her hand on his side. “Mmm…but we didn’t.”

Jack rolled his eyes and took a drag off of the small plastic stick, feeling the chemicals spill into his mouth and work their magic. SimStik begat chemicals which begat chemical reaction which begat the simulated sensation of smoking a real, honest to goodness tobacco cigarette.

After his lungs were full of what his brain believed to be smoke, he exhaled slowly and watched as a cloud that wasn’t actually there dissipated into the cool, summer sky.

“It’s funny,” he said before taking another drag, “an advanced, science-minded species and what do we have to show for it? No colony on Mars, no patches for the ozone layer. No proof of intelligent life out there and no flying cars. We don’t even have a cure for cancer, just this dodge around it” he paused and held the SimStik out dramatically. Alice looked up from the spot on his chest that she’d nestled up against. “Just this little plastic straw that makes our brains think we’re perpetuating a filthy habit with none of the undesirable side effects.”

He looked down intently into Alice’s eyes and asked her, “What would Gene Roddenberry say?”

Jack looked down into Alice’s eyes and though he’d like to chalk the stupid look up to the booze, he knew that she hadn’t the slightest clue as to who Gene Roddenberry was.

“Forget it.” He said with a grin, “How’s about we head back to my place for a drink? Can’t promise it won’t get you drunk or destroy that pretty little liver of yours,” he tenderly caressed the side of her right breast, not entirely sure if that’s where the human liver was but one hundred percent certain that she wouldn’t know either, “but I’m sure top scientists are working on it right now.”

With there arms around each other the stumbled away from the bar.

“Why Jack,” Alice joked, “It sounds like you’re trying to take advantage of me.”

He wasn’t trying. He was doing.

Here’s to another Friday, he thought as he dropped his used up SimStik into a high tech looking garbage can.

“Thank you for choosing SimStik,” it said cheerfully over a corporate jingle, “The world’s healthy alternative since 2043.”

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