The Solution
i
Illustration by Igor Kubik
Fiction

The Solution

Mitchell Atkinson III
Reading
time 20 minutes

“Frankly speaking, I don’t understand what you want me to do.”

“I’m out. Or I will be out soon. Real soon. I’m asking you for help.”

The eyes of the pharmacist were unaffected. No empathy requirement existed for his job. He wore the white coat with the Paracon logo stitched over the left breast, sported a fashionable goatee. His hair was thick and silver at the temples. His eyes were so dead they could have been synthetic. Dolls eyes. I don’t know what I was thinking when I went into the fluid shop with empty pockets, looking for a few free CCs. But what else could I do? There was no one in my life, at that stage, to help me. Why would they?

“I’m running out,” I said, trying to sound like I might cry—or maybe I was crying. “I’ve never been without it. What happens when you stop taking it?”

“I strongly suggest you consult your family physician. Perhaps you’d like to take one of these cards? The website will give you Paracon’s customer service department.”

“Will they give me more Femper?”

He coughed without covering his mouth. “I don’t know. Not for free, probably.”

I took the card.

~~~

It’s hard to say just how I put myself in this position. I couldn’t do a timeline of the screwups that ended in my complete lack of the means to maintain my personhood. What happened when you stopped taking it? I had no idea. Someone must know all these things.

At my flat, I took my last remaining bottle of Femper and held it to the light. Three or four CCs. Call it three and a half. That would last about a month at my current rate of consumption. But I was taking a lot; it’s true. How would I feel if I slowed down? Probably better than if I quit cold-turkey for want of cash.

I searched for Paracon assistance programs and got nothing. No results. There was a website devoted to volunteers working in an NGO providing logistical support for delivery drones flying Femper and Masper by the kiloliter into remote villages in far-flung nations.

I called my bank. A woman answered the phone after a series of virtual assistants gave up understanding what I was after.

“Welcome and hello,” she said. “I am CSR Monika Endlebratt. Justified dissatisfaction will be credited to your account. How may I inform you?”

I took a breath. “Ca

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