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Fireside

We’re back in New Detroit for another chat with someone from the year 2025. Please help me welcome Gliese Carter.

Hello Gliese!

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Hello.

[She seems distracted.]  

I’d like to ask you a few questions, chat a bit. Is that okay? [Her eyes refocus.] Yeah, I guess.

Okay. Let’s start with something easy. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? I don’t know. Maybe read. Take a walk.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? [She pauses for a beat.] Quiet. Distant.

I’ve spoken with your brother, your cousin, and your stepfather. They all seem to care about you a great deal. How do you feel about them? [She shrugs her shoulders.] I guess I’m supposed to feel grateful to them. I remember loving them.

Is there something wrong? You seem a bit… distracted. Like you’d rather be somewhere else. [Her features harden.] Can we be honest here? Real?

I’d like nothing more. I was one of the first to have that damned vaccine. Although I lived in Canada, the authorities came over the border and got me because I had dual citizenship. My brother thinks I don’t remember any of it, but I remember everything. I remember being sick for weeks—vomiting, I ran a fever, couldn’t eat anything. I wanted to die. Then when it was over, I wished I was dead.

Why? I felt worn out. I didn’t care about anything or anyone. My girlfriend left me. She couldn’t deal with my emotions. One minute I was crying like a baby. The next, I was pitching a fit—throwing shit. When Griffin asked how I was, I lied. I told him I felt numb.

He mentioned medication. Want to elaborate? He likes to keep me flat-lined. His answer to my raging emotions is to take them away. I hate them. Those things leave me unfeeling. I really don’t care about stuff. So I stopped taking them.tablets-700670_640

He said something about self-medicating. Yeah. That’s what he calls it. I’m just getting high. But nowadays it’s harder to find clean shit. The government’s cracked down, no pun intended, on dealers. So you have to work harder to find stuff. I can manage medical weed, but it’s not enough anymore.

Why ‘self-medicate’ then? What purpose does it serve? I need to forget. I’ve lost a lot of friends. They’ve checked out…

Checked out? Killed themselves because of the violent emotions the vaccine left behind. How can I explain it for you? What year is it?

2016. Okay, you still have those protein powder shakes?

Yes. The purpose of those drinks is to help you build or maintain muscle. Imagine if someone added an ingredient. Instead of you simply maintaining muscle, it has extra ‘benefits’. For some people, they may get stronger but become angry easier. For some, drinking it might trigger bouts of depression. Or maybe they go out on a binge—drinking alcohol, drugs, sex, whatever.

Is that what the vaccine does? At least the one I got. It works with your personal chemistry. For some people it enhances the worst parts of your personality. Those are the lucky ones. Over time they redesigned the vaccine so that only certain people got the worst effects. Now it leaves those people brain damaged. They regress. It’s like dealing with a toddler just learning language.

Unbelievable. Have you shared this with your brother? No point. He thinks he can fix me. I don’t need to be fixed. I need to find a way to check out, but he’s been through enough. I can’t do that to him.

So you pretend with him? Sometimes. I let him think I don’t feel crap. Trust me, it has its benefits.

How so? Do you know that guy Zared?

Yes. Well, his girlfriend gave me something to keep for him. I overheard my brother talking to our stepfather over the phone. They want what she gave me. I’m not sure what’s all on the thing, but I do know it doesn’t belong to them.

Okay. I see your point. Let’s move on to another topic.

If you could spend the day with someone you admire, who would you pick? That’s an easy one. I’d spend the day with my cousin Mark. He’s cool people. I think he understands me better than anyone else.

Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected? I’m not sure what my dad had in mind. He died when we were little. Mom and I used to talk about the future, nothing in particular. I’ve always liked making stuff up. She thought I’d become a writer. Then the New Order banned creativity. I wouldn’t want to write non-fiction dribble for the rest of my life.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it? Travel. There’s gotta be some place better than the AR. I might stop getting high and just learn how to live.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? Pushing Angela away. I loved her, but I just couldn’t handle her drama and the vaccine. When she walked out I lost her number. I figured she didn’t love me if she could leave so easily.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Good question. I’ve always thought of myself as basically a good person. If I’ve done something bad, it wasn’t intentional. 

What’s the most important thing in your life? Just staying sane. Trying to keep my emotions in check and keep an eye on my brother is crazy.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change? I wish things were better. Frankly, I feel like I babysit my brother.

You babysit him? I know. Ironic, right? He lost his wife and kid and then Riza threw him in prison. Well… not really prison, but close enough. Griffin eventually escaped. He’s never been right in the head since then. If anyone needs meds, it’s him.

Care to explain? For the most part, he’s good. Our stepfather got some medicine for Griffin. I slip it into his meals when I can. So when he gets the medicine he functions well. When he’s off his meds he becomes a neurotic. He becomes obsessed with the vaccine—finding a cure. He won’t venture outside because he thinks everyone’s looking to turn him in. His OCD gets worse. Leon says it’s the aftermath of being in prison. The things they did to him played with his mind. He’ll never be a completely stable person without meds.

Interesting. Would you call him dangerous? He can be. He’s the last person who should be given a gun. My brother will shoot you first and then ask what you wanted.

Moving on. Mark mentioned Farms. Do you know about them? Yeah. It’s an acronym with lots of variations. You know like FORD—Found On Roadside Dead. One of the best is Facilities for Addicts and Raving Maniacs. I forget what the actual letters stand for. Technically, they are rehab facilities. They were banned because they were federally funded. The New Order doesn’t contribute to anything they feel you should handle on your own. Most of them are out west hiding in the guise of ranches and actual farms. life-863169_640

Why not send Griffin there? I couldn’t do that to him. He’s my brother. I love him. We take care of each other. If I send him, I’ll have to go with him.

Interesting. Anything you care to add? We’re done? Cool. I’ve got to meet someone soon.

Okay. Well, you’ve clarified a lot for me. Thanks for the talk.

Join me next time for another Fireside Chat. We’ll be speaking with another character from the future—Dr. Holden Pratt.

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