Author : Jack Barton

‘Joy, joy, I wish joy to you all.’ Karl raised his arms as he addressed the crowd. ‘And joy is what you shall have, if you can accept it.’ Beaming, he eyed the hesitant audience. It wasn’t just junkies and religious zealots anymore; there were businessmen here now, students, even a few families with young children. Word had spread.

‘Nothing could be simpler, nothing could be more worthwhile. If you sign up tonight, you’ll be corrected before next week. Perhaps some of you have things to do on Monday morning, things you’re not looking forward to? Get corrected now, and whatever you have to do on Monday, the tough job, the break up, the funeral… it will seem like a picnic, like a walk in the park. It will be joyful.’

He allowed himself a long pause and clocked those who were biting their lips or rubbing their temples, those about to break.

But don’t take my word for it,’ he continued. ‘Here are some folks who signed up at the last session. Please welcome the corrected.’

The applause grew as two columns of people, smiling amiably, strode on to the stage.

Karl let the applause slow before bounding across the stage and thrusting his microphone into the face of the first volunteer.

‘You sir, what made you get corrected?’ The man blinked in the spotlight, but spoke clearly. ‘I worked for the same firm for thirty years and was passed over for promotion several times. When I asked my boss about it he said I’m too old to be promoted now. I was angry, but now I’ve been corrected I can accept it and move on.’

‘Great.’ said Karl, ‘and has your personality changed?’

‘No. Not my personality. I’m just happier now.’

Karl spun around and held the microphone in front of a small woman. ‘And what’s your story?’

‘I fell out with my son when he told me he was gay. We hadn’t spoken for years, but the correction changed how I feel, and now we’re speaking again.’

‘And did the process hurt?’ asked Karl.

‘Oh no, not at all. You go to sleep for an hour and then…joy.’

There was more applause as Karl went up to another, younger woman.

She giggled nervously for a second. ‘My husband and child were killed in a car crash. I was very depressed for a long time and even tried to commit suicide. But now I’m corrected, I don’t even miss them.’

Shaky applause followed and Karl asked her, ‘Is getting corrected better than taking the anti-depressants dear?’

‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘much better. They just drowned my feelings. Now I’m corrected, thinking about my child fills me with joy.’

Karl accelerated and started to leap around the stage, rapidly cycling through the speakers.

‘My wife cheated on me, but I’ve been able to easily able to forgive her and my brother.’

‘I’m long-term unemployed, but I don’t mind.’

‘My ex-wife won’t let me see the kids. Which is fine.’

‘Now I have joy, I don’t need heroin.’

Karl kept the wild applause going as the group shuffled off the stage, standing motionless in the centre until there was silence. When it finally came, he held a small silver tube aloft, feeling every eye in the house fixating on it.

‘It’s bigger than people expect,’ he said, ‘and it actually goes around the top of the spinal column, not in the brain. It weighs six grams, it’s three centimetres long and it lasts forever. It will change your life; it is joy. Stand up if you can accept it.


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