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Perpetual Breathing

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-Good afternoon, Christopher.

-Hey. 

-I trust your morning was good?

-Sure. 

-How about engaging? Were you active in many things?

-I sat in this chair for five hours and thought about masturbating, does that count?

-I suppose that is, in a sense, at least a little ambitious than... eh, than you usually are.

-Right.

-Well, Christopher, sexual tension aside I am here to get a bit of a progress report going on the trials. Are you willing to answer a few questions for me?

-Reckon I don't have much of a choice, sir. 

-Very good, blunt and terse. I like that.

-Whatever. 

-Okay now, let's see here. Your last physical showed not much change in health, for the most part.

-Yep. 

-Except you complained, were tested, and finally diagnosed with a minor bladder infection.

-Sounds about right. 

-But were unable to receive treatment due to the antibiotics possibly affecting the pill already in your system.

-My piss is like gasoline, sir. Only thing I'm missing is a spark and I could be the Human Torch.

-Yes, I... uh, I see, but we-

-Get it?

-I think so, ye-

-Because it fucking hurts when I piss. 

-Thank you, Christopher, I gathered. However, we can't give you anything because it would mess up months upon months of testing and observation.

-Nononono, don't mind me. I perfectly understand, sir. I'm glad to be of service. 

-Anyway, everything else appears to be normal: blood, heart rate, all the vitals, etc, etc. It looks like you dropped a few pounds since last time, though.

-Thank you for noticing. 

-Have you been eating the meals we provided for you?

-I'm trying to get my beach body back, actually. 

-Either answer 'yes' or 'no', Christopher.

-...No. 

-You understand it is paramount that you keep the ideal weight we set you up with at the consoltation?

-Yep. 

-And that if you go below that margin you run the risk of, well, you virtually turn into a risk.

-I guess. 

-And whatever happens we wouldn't be able to help because we aren't quite sure what this pill does yet.

-Mysterious, oooo.

-Your watchman will bring the meals to you from now on and personally watch you consume them.

-Tell him to bring candles and a cocktail dress, make it a date. 

-Would you like some gum, Christopher?

-And why would I want gum?

-Well, I find that whenever I'm irritated a piece of gum calms me down a bit. Makes me focus more.

-Really now?

-So you do not want a piece of gum?

-I respectfully decline, sir.

-Okay then. Do you mind if I chew some gum?

-Feeling stressed?

-Oh, of course not. I just want to focus more.

-Fine with me. 

-Very good. Now I feel a little more focused. I hope I'm setting a good example for you to follow.

-Don't treat me li--

-I want to get back on track, just answer my questions and I will be out of here soon rather than later.

-Okay. 

-Have you been sleeping well?

-As good as ever, sure. 

-Good. And how about your dreams, are you dreaming?

-Never dreamt much, even before all this. So, no. 

-Okay. Have you experienced any headaches, bouts of nausea?

-They already asked me all this at my physical.

-Well now I'M asking you. 

-...No to all them.

-How about blurred vision?

-No. 

-Are you thinking clearer than normal?

-I'm not sure what that means. 

-Just yes or no.

-Then no, I guess. 

-Have you had any suicidal thoughts?

-...

-Christopher?

-I don't think so, no. 

-Care to elaborate on that?

-I mean, no. I haven't. I mean, everyone thinks of death from time to time, right?

-Fair assumption, yes.

-Some people just a bit more than usual. 

-So you are thinking about death, just not you speeding up the process?

-I guess it's more like I can taste death. 

-Pardon me?

-I can taste death, sir. 

-That certainly is interesting. I am going to need you to explain what you mean.

-It started a couple week into these bullshit trials. I was lying down trying to sleep when suddenly I got this taste in my mouth. Kinda reminded me of copper or rusty water, or somethin. And then it passed, and it was only for a second, then I tasted nothing. Then the next day came and one morning it all started coming, there was no resting period or anything. It all just happened. I tasted more copper, stomach acid, salty water, blood, and smoke and motor oil and melted tissue, hot lead and flames, metal and burning rubber, more blood and sweat and shit, asphalt and crushed teeth, paint thinner, DRAINO, moonshine, stale vomit and marshmellows, fresh cotton and baby powder, coffee grounds, bleach. It kept coming, and coming, every breath meant a new flavor and nothing, NOTHING has even been neutral or clean, or anything. I haven't been able to stop. 

-And what do you taste right now.

-This breath is battery acid, now it's dirt. 

-What do you think this is, exactly?

-I don't fucking know, sir. You're the scientist. I'm just the trapped guinea pig. 

-I'll remind you you volunteered for this.

-Twisted truth, if I ever heard it. Sweaty socks. Aluminum foil. 

-I think this may be an neurological issue, possibly Dysgeusia.

-This isn't a fucking logical condition, sir.

-Everything is easily explained, Christopher. With or without that pill in your system the side effects a-

-I haven't breathed in weeks.

-...I'm sorry?

-I said I haven't breathed in weeks, sir. As in I haven't contracted my lungs. They stopped. 

-I-I'm not really sure what you're saying. 

-I've been breathing, but it hasn't been of my own free will. I feel it within my lungs, there's movement, there's a feeling of something being there but nothing moves. And yet I can...I can still breathe. And I can taste all these things, these specific flavors on these breaths. 

-Your breath-

-No, not my breath. Don't you get it? They aren't mine. 

-Are you suggesting that the oxygen, the eh...the breaths inside you, that you hold and release, mind you... that they are somebody else's?

-Every last one of them. As I inhale now what i release is from somebody else. 

-Now, let me get this straight. With your taste buds acting up you have these specific tastes, and you claim you haven't contracted your lungs in-

-Yes, in weeks. 

-But your physical. The nurse checked your vitals, she would have felt-

-There's still sound. There's still a kinda movement but-

-I need you to be blunt with me now, Christopher. What do you believe is going on here?

-Sir, I looked into it from the beginning. When I first tasted copper I thought I was having a heart attack, but my chest felt fine, my left arm fine, everything. That next afternoon when the guard came with my meal I heard him talking with someone that another worker here had a heart attack, died. Just like that. Wasn't too far from this holding area. 

-Okay...

-Then the other tastes, I looked in the papers, looked in the obituaries and the news: car accidents, cancer, murders, hit and runs, shootings. All that. So much death. So many people gone. Just. Like. That. 

-And because of that...?

-It's like I'm breathing their last breaths, sir.

-I'm not exactly sure what to make of all this, Christopher.

-You mean you don't believe me, is what you mean.

-No no, it isn't that. It's just. From the other subjects, their own pills, we already know what theirs do. Heightened sense of sight, hearing, things like that. You must have taste.

-And what would I have put in my mouth that tasted like battery acid, sir?

-I. Don't. Know. But you aren't making much sense.

-...

-And I think we can explain this in a few more trials, don't you think.

-...

-Just a few more weeks to stay aboard, is all. For the greater good.

-...

-Christopher?

-...I want to see my family.

-Oh and you WILL, Christopher. You will, but we need to figure all this out first. 

-I WANT T--

-In. Time. Well, time just flew by, didn't it. I best be going. See you in a few days, Christopher. 

-Sir.

-Yes, Christopher?

-Could you spit out your gum, please. 

-And why's that, Christopher?

-I don't like the taste of cinnamon. 

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