Author : Angie Gibson

One more time.

It hurts so much. One more time may just kill me.

My hands shake as I lift my Fenestra Lens to my face. It’s a model A, race car red, as shiny as a freshly picked apple. It cost me everything I had. But thanks to it, I’ve climbed Mount Everest, I’ve explored the flooded labyrinths of Chac Mool, I’ve made love to countless beautiful women, I’ve killed a thousand men, I’ve died a thousand times. It cost me everything, but because of it I’ve LIVED.

But one more time will kill me.

I don’t put it on right away. I just hold it so it catches the fading light. Just a piece of plastic that fits over my head and eyes. So powerful, my bowels churn nervously just looking at it. My palms sweat. My heart races. Holding this, contemplating putting it on, I feel the same terrified thrill that countless others have felt standing in front of the gallows, horrifyingly certain of what lies within that dangling, sightless eye.

I don’t want to die. I could put it down on the ground right now and stomp it to pieces. I could chuck it out the window where a dozen scrabbling children will swoop down on it like hungry dogs. Maybe one of them will get away with The Lens intake—the equivalent of winning the lottery. I could do anything but put it on my head. But I don’t.

I’m a junky. A junky addicted to LIFE. A junky who knows damn well that one more shot is all it’s going to take to kill him. As if on cue my nose starts to bleed. The terrible headache pounds like a gong in my ears. Even if I don’t put it on, I probably only have a good year or two left.

I peer out my window. The faded yellow sun is setting from the septic sky. A sherbet burst of color-pollution that will kills millions upon millions of people. One might consider it beautiful. Cold faded concrete and glimmer-less glass stretch for miles, everything with even a touch of green has been stripped and eaten. Seventeen billion people starving at once. Everything that crawls, hops, swims or flies has been consumed long ago. Some have gone crazy with hunger and started eating dirt until their stomachs burst. Others have wised up and started eating each other. Beware the plump and peaceful.

My shrunken stomach whimpers. Inside The Lens I’ve eaten feasts at kings’ tables. Of all the simulations, The Lens spares you starvation—just a little too close to reality to be marketable. Maybe my last vision will be a dinner. Nothing crazy, something elegant. A view with lights at night. A beautiful woman across the small table. We will clink Champagne glasses and smile into each others eyes while the swollen vein in my brain bursts and floods me with blood. There will be no pain. In fact, it’ll be ecstasy. But what if I wake up impaled on a spear? I may just die writhing in agony. Even still, isn’t that better than the slow death of starvation? The meek and painful submission to a tumor in my spleen or kidneys or lungs? Or perhaps I will join my Family and Friends on the UsNet. Not my real family and friends, those don’t exist, but does it really matter whether they’re real or not? People I created subconsciously and The Lens made real for me? I don’t think so. They love me. That’s all that matters. Strangely, my hands stop shaking.

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