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.
â€œSorry,â€ 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.
â€œWhatâ€™sa matter?â€ she asked as she pulled a drag off her SimStik.
â€œOh, nothing.â€ Jack smiled and laughed at himself. â€œI smoked when I was a kid. You know, actually smoked. Sometimes I forget you donâ€™t need a lighter for these things. Force of habit.â€
Aliceâ€™s eyes slowly fell shut, heavy with a nightâ€™s worth of drinking then snapped back open.
â€œI smoked once.â€ She stumbled and Jack reached out quick to grab her arm. She went on talking as if nothing had happened. â€œIn college. Some guy I knew knew a guy who had a friend whose brother-in-law grew tobacco in his basement.â€
â€œBut that was the fun of it! Smoking real tobacco rolled in paper. Manâ€¦I knew, just knew weâ€™d get busted at any second,â€ She laughed and leaned in, putting her head on Jackâ€™s shoulder and her hand on his side. â€œMmmâ€¦but we didnâ€™t.â€
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 wasnâ€™t actually there dissipated into the cool, summer sky.
â€œItâ€™s funny,â€ he said before taking another drag, â€œan 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 donâ€™t even have a cure for cancer, just this dodge around itâ€ he paused and held the SimStik out dramatically. Alice looked up from the spot on his chest that sheâ€™d nestled up against. â€œJust this little plastic straw that makes our brains think weâ€™re perpetuating a filthy habit with none of the undesirable side effects.â€
He looked down intently into Aliceâ€™s eyes and asked her, â€œWhat would Gene Roddenberry say?â€
Jack looked down into Aliceâ€™s eyes and though heâ€™d like to chalk the stupid look up to the booze, he knew that she hadnâ€™t the slightest clue as to who Gene Roddenberry was.
â€œForget it.â€ He said with a grin, â€œHowâ€™s about we head back to my place for a drink? Canâ€™t promise it wonâ€™t get you drunk or destroy that pretty little liver of yours,â€ he tenderly caressed the side of her right breast, not entirely sure if thatâ€™s where the human liver was but one hundred percent certain that she wouldnâ€™t know either, â€œbut Iâ€™m sure top scientists are working on it right now.â€
With there arms around each other the stumbled away from the bar.
â€œWhy Jack,â€ Alice joked, â€œIt sounds like youâ€™re trying to take advantage of me.â€
He wasnâ€™t trying. He was doing.
Hereâ€™s to another Friday, he thought as he dropped his used up SimStik into a high tech looking garbage can.
â€œThank you for choosing SimStik,â€ it said cheerfully over a corporate jingle, â€œThe worldâ€™s healthy alternative since 2043.â€