Author : Jeremy Herman

Did you know coal can be reduced to liquid? With enough heat and pressure it’s possible. The government discovered this once they ran out of oil but they still needed to power their war machines. Right now Coleman felt like one of those dull pieces of rock. He felt like the world around him was squeezing the life out of him. Soon he would get relief. Coleman walked past smudged faces as he entered the lab building. He worked in a coal mining town now, but the images from the war still hung with him.

He had served 4 tours overseas and he only had scars to prove he was there, no medals. The things he witnessed still haunted him. The screams. The smells. Some nights he would wake up in pools of sweat. It had been weeks since he had a good sleep. He felt like a reanimated corpse in the mines trying to operate off just a few hours.

That would all be over soon though. He was in the waiting room of the government sponsored lab that would help him with his PTSD. He had an honorable discharge after his service and decided to settle in this small mining town. Here the pay was minimal but he could still scrape by. He actually had joined the army because he thought he would be able to get ahead in life. Save some money, maybe find a wife. Little did he know the price he would pay with reoccurring nightmares each night. Now the small nest egg he had would go to help defer the cost of treating his stress disorder.

He was called into the back office and the doc looked at him with kind eyes. The doctor said he was grateful for his service to the nation. Coleman nodded slowly still feeling the effects of nights without sleep. The doctor told him he had a new way to treat soldiers that had only been tried on a few patients. It was experimental but ten times more effective then any of the current ways to treat his disorder.

“What if I could help you forget everything. What would you say to that?”

“You have my attention doc. Give me the details.”

“The process is quite complex and involves selective neural destruction. We will use dyes to map the connections in your brain associated with the war and destroy them. It will be as if you never had fought.” Coleman stared ahead dumbly trying to comprehend the magnitude of this decision.

“You don’t have to respond right now. I can understand if you need time to think it over.” Coleman turned to face the doctor and stared into both his eyes. “I can’t keep living this way. My memories are killing me. Do what you have to do and make it fast.” Hours later Coleman was discharged from the lab with a new neural map.

Weeks passed and it was work as usual. The mines churned out loads of coal to support the war effort. Coleman worked with renewed vitality but no one ever got rich from the work. As soon as the money came in it flowed out again for rent and food. What a dismal way for anyone to live! If only there was a way to get ahead. On the way to work Coleman saw a recruitment poster and paused to write down the number. Maybe they would take him?


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