Lab Rat part 12

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Fiction, Mental health, Test Subject

I step out of the grocery store and into the blinding sun. As I squint and wait for my eyes to adjust, I contemplate the cash still in my pocket. I could get a cab. It would be a lot faster. Then again, I still need to do a bunch of shopping. I can stand a little exercise to save a buck. I hoof it back to my place and fill my fridge. I marvel at the sight of all that food. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much food in any place I’ve lived since I moved out of my parents’ house. I should send them a picture; they’d be proud. Except – I don’t have a phone. I stop staring at my fridge, grab one of those meal replacement drinks, and get going again. I stop at the door, grab my messenger bag from its hook, and race back into the daylight.


The sun is just dipping below the horizon as I step off of the bus in my own neighborhood. It’s been a damn long day, but I’ve replaced my ruined wardrobe and my bank card. I even got my new ID card ordered but the powers-that-be says it’ll be a month before I get the actual card. I’m so busy playing with all the bells and whistles on my new phone that I don’t notice the cordon of emergency vehicles until I’m nearly on top of them. I’m only about half a mile from home, and a block from my usual corner store, but it looks like someone had a rough day. Man, it’s too bad I wasn’t there. Maybe I could have done something about it. I find myself looking at the injector, and then back at the rows of pulsing red and blue. I shake my head. I can’t be everywhere at once, so there’s no point in feeling guilty.

I don’t even finish that thought before I remember that I told the clerk I’d be hanging out in case something happened. Oh, son of a bitch. My walk speeds up to a near run, and I get right up to the cordon. A cop in an orange safety vest straight-arms me. “That’s far enough, kid.”

“What happened?” I ask. I stand on tip-toe and crane my neck to try to get a glimpse of what’s beyond the veil of the yellow tape and flashing lights.

“You can read about it in the paper. Go on home.” The officer gives me a hard look that speaks volumes about how much patience he has for rubber-neckers. I think about trying to sneak past, but I think Ally would reconsider testing the regeneration on head injuries if I got myself arrested.

“Sorry, sir,” I tell him. “I live on the other side of this mess. Is there an easy way around?”

“Follow the detour signs,” he tells me. He stares off into space as he listens to his radio squawk something I don’t understand, then points.

“Thanks. Have a good night,” I say as I turn to follow this new route. I hear him snort as I walk away. I get the feeling he’s not going to have a good night.

I tried to balance the details of Asher’s day off with the fact that when you’re running errands like he is, they’re damned boring. I ended up just doing the “time passes” bit, and getting on with the story. I talked with a friend of mine the other day about how most stories handle moments like this, and he said that often it feels awkward and shoe-horned in. I think I agree, even when that time is used to fill in back-story. It might have been an opportune time to switch to following another character, but I’m kind of thinking that this is Asher’s story and jumping around like that isn’t something I want to do here.

Without going back and reading previous posts, I can’t really recall how much detail I’ve gone into about why my brain is fried. If I’m repeating myself, feel free to stop reading here. I have been dreaming about work EVERY night for the past week. You know what’s fun about that? Anyone who knows me knows the answer, but for all you new folks the correct answer is: nothing. It’s gotten bad. I can feel the hooks of depression dragging down on me with every step I take. It has required some pretty extreme willpower to keep getting out of the house every day to do things. I don’t remember if it was this bad last winter. It probably was. I know that some (if not all) of the problem is situational, and that all I have to do is hang in there and things will improve. Writing is helping. Adding to the story that has taken over my blog feels good. Bitching about how burned out I am on work helps a little too.


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