When I was first talking about starting a blog, everyone’s first reaction was that they were excited that they were going to get to read more of my fiction online. That was never quite my intent, and now I’m more than 70 posts in and so far, I’ve haven’t done any fiction.
Part of that is because I want my writing to be good, and I want my fiction to be more good. It’s hard to get it to a place where I like it within such a short window. I’ve tried to get a Flash Fiction Friday going, but have stopped in the past when stories that were supposed to be fluff, well, turned good on me. A short 500-word piece that was meant to be quick and shallow, woke up and decided that it had a lot more to say.
Obviously, I can’t prevent that from happening, but it makes it harder to post it on a whim.
In fact, the only way I can see that I can make this work is to throw both the story idea and the editing out the window. If the concept is too ridiculous, even for me, I won’t overthink it.
However, I stumbled across the following chart, and the story idea it generated was too insane to pass up:
C-O-D-Y-K-A-P yields “A lyrical, autobiographical novel about an exuberant murder detective’s journey to re-awaken cancer.”
That’s right. You heard me.
So, with the words I have left out of my usual 1000, I’m going to tell that story.
“Note Found by a Dead Body”
I was 50 when the treatments first came out. At the time, I had cancer, and I really hadn’t done enough living, yet. My kids were grown, but still not old enough that I could see the larger shape that their lives were going to take. And I wanted to see my grandkids, whenever they came around.
The latter was the reason I signed the contract and let them strap me down in a chair, gas me to unconsciousness, reshape my very genes and install little machines that whir and hum when they think I’m not listening.
Of course, there’s no way you could afford immortality. It’s a gift so great that you could never pay it off.
So, the Company that does the treatment doesn’t ask for payment. It asks for labor, a couple months out of the year for the rest of, well, forever.
I worked on the police force before retiring due to cancer. My life was measured in months when I took the surgery. Afterward, they informed me that they needed murder detectives. I’ve spent the last millennium solving crimes related to the dearly departed.
Killings are way down from before the treatments. Two things are going on. People started to think in the long run, and a lot of problems that led to death don’t seem that significant anymore. Also, it’s really hard to kill people. You could put a dozen bullets in their brain and they’d come back. Those little whirring machines make human violence almost inconsequential.
So, when someone dies, it’s usually pretty horrific. Most means of killing and pain don’t work. There’s no easy way to go.
When you grow up from a child to an adult, the world loses a great degree of its magic. Likewise, I’ve grown from an adult into whatever stage comes after that. I had thought the magic was gone by the time I was twenty-five, but I didn’t realize how much I had left relative to what remained at two-twenty-five.
Life isn’t what it was, and consequently, isn’t worth it.
You’d think that perhaps you could get the Company to reverse your treatments so that you could die naturally, but you’re locked into a contract. Labor for the rest of your existence. They’re not going to let you out of it. Trust me, I’ve tried.
And, if I die by suicide, the cost of my immortality would be passed down to my heirs, and I don’t want to double their burden.
So, I’m left with not a lot of options.
When I was getting cancer treatment, they told me I had just about every genetic marker for cancer that ever existed. Unlucky genes, my doctor had said.
So, that’s my plan right now. I need the cancer back.
If I die by my body’s own doing, my contract with the Company is voided.
A few decades ago I bought a lot of cheap land around Chernobyl. I take two daily pilgrimages to the containment dome, one after breakfast and one just before it gets dark.
I put my hand on the lead building and pretend I can feel the radiation flowing into my cells, hoping it’s enough to overcome the restorative powers of the treatment.
I shave down lead figurines into my water and drink it.
Most days, I smoke two packs of cigarettes. It’s an expensive habit, but worth it. They’re full of carcinogens. If only I could get hooked on the nicotine. Maybe then I wouldn’t hate the taste so much.
I ordered a relic on the internet and now it’s hanging on my wall.
The “List of Chemicals Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer” hasn’t been updated in a long time, but I figure the advice still holds true.
I brew my coffee darker than dark, upping the acrylamide content. I treat my lawn with alachlor-based herbicide, careful to take deep breaths while I work.
I play with mercury like kids did so long ago.
I drink herbal teas laced with riddelliine and wander around old buildings with asbestos in the walls.
I make a point of spilling gas when filling up my car.
I’m certain something will work.
Wish me luck.