City Intersection, Chapter Seven – Zero Dollars

Here we go, finally. I’m taking this morning off, I suppose, since I’m too filled with loathing toward my country right now. Good time to listen to Nine Inch Nails and write, right?

Right.

(I was going to loathe my country no matter who won, but now that someone has, I think I’m permitted to loathe it in full force.)

Ah, music.

This is a relatively old ambient drone album that I listened to the other day. Most of the ambient/drone music I listen to has been made in the past five or ten years, so finding something from almost twenty years ago was pretty interesting.

~

Getting in the hospital was easy enough. Mostly. They had seen me the… day before? Two days before? Time was slipping away from me. I was losing it in this town. This town was making me lose it, and from what I now knew about it, I thought that was probably the point. I didn’t belong here, none of us who had come here did.
Physically speaking, it was easy enough getting in there. Easily explained. What was less easily explained, though, was why I was alive, and I had no idea how many people knew I wasn’t supposed to be so.
Another layer of difficulty was in how we could get to the lower levels. I thought, for a moment, of claiming that I was interested in working there, showing them my ID and certification, and trying to get them to let us down there. I decided against that due to the increased risk of them realizing who I was.
Eventually we decided the easiest way about it would be to simply sneak down there. I say “simply” comparatively, for it could only qualify as that for such. Turns out, unsurprisingly, it’s rather difficult to get to the employee-only areas of a hospital. At one point I realized there would have to be an easy fire exit to get out from the basement, and therefore, presumably, an easy way to get in there.
Hannah found it soon after. She seemed to be magnetized toward it, finding it far sooner than I would’ve expected. I didn’t notice that much, though, given that I was struggling coming to grips with sobriety. It was a horrible thing, I can’t imagine how people live like that. Having a strong connection between your consciousness and body… It wasn’t natural. I wasn’t made to be like that. I needed to sever that connection, let loose and just see how things played out.
This way, it was all… Rigid and nervous. Was this how normal people always felt? Sober people living in this horrible tense world? I could understand why I would want to avoid that life, in that case. That must have been why I started with it.
I couldn’t tell why it was that I was so puzzled about why I had started with drugs in the first place, and concerned that I was curious about it at all. Don’t mess with things like that, memories, experiences, life, they’ll fuck you up a lot more than drugs. Just move along and try to forget it.
Amnesia being a side effect of  ketamine, I really needed that briefcase. This sensation of being in full control of my faculties was unnatural. I need to get the hell out of here – “here” being my own mind.
Let’s get wasted. For a moment, I thought I said that out loud by accident and looked with horror over at Hannah. She didn’t respond or even look toward me, so I assumed I hadn’t said it out loud.
We were in one of the lower levels, walking past what looked like supply rooms and stuff. I kept an eye on the signs for the rooms as we walked past. If I was lucky, I might be able to find…
A room full of drugs. I darted toward it behind Hannah and slipped into the room. She kept walking for a moment, then noticed I wasn’t with her and walked back to the door and looked through the window.
I was in there, scanning for anything good. Anything. I’d have preferred ketamine, obviously, but it isn’t as widely used for anesthesia as it once was. Just anything.
Come to think of it, I realized there definitely wouldn’t be any ketamine there if this town operated under the rules Ouroboros laid out. Well, that option wasn’t an option any more, so I just had to look for something else.
Something like a 5% morphine solution, in those clear plastic bags. They were behind lock and key so I hesitated for a moment, then just bashed the glass open with my elbow and took out a bag. Or two. I didn’t want to run out.
I returned to the hallway, where Hannah was still waiting. “What the fuck did you just do?” she demanded.
“I, uh… My finger still hurts. A lot. Ibuprofen doesn’t cut it. I need something stronger.”
“You can’t just steal it, though!”
“Look, all right, I wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t stolen mine. They started it. They stole… They stole a briefcase full of ketamine from me, all right? I need that shit, dude, not just for myself, but to sell. It’s my job. So I’m considering this just the start of payback for that. And hey, they fucking killed me, okay? I don’t think it’s that unfair to steal some morphine from them.”
She raised her hands and backed away. “All right, all right. So that’s why you’re here? To sell drugs?”
“To sell them and do them, pretty much. Although from what Ouroboros told me, it looks like I’ll have some trouble doing the former anywhere around here. But I’d still like to get my briefcase back. And my personal bag. The briefcase holds, uh, let’s see… five kilograms, twenty dollars a gram… About a hundred-thousand dollars. My employer would probably be a bit, er, disappointed if I came back without the briefcase and without money. But that’s besides the point. The point is, I need this morphine.”
We had been walking the entire time I was saying that, and now I noticed a sign on a door we were passing and went inside. A minute later I emerged with a handful of still-sealed syringes. I unwrapped one, stuck it into the plastic seal on the top of the morphine bag, and pulled out a few cc’s, doing some quick math in my head that I hoped was correct concerning the dose.
I rolled up my sleeve, flexed my bicep and clenched my fist, tapped the inside of my elbow a few times, then found a good vein and thrust the needle in and pushed down the plunger.
And, relief. I hadn’t used morphine in a few… years? Wait, when had I been taking morphine? I didn’t remember that portion of my life, apparently, but I knew that it had been a good while ago.
Obliteration of the soul, disconnection between mind and body, complete inebriation of the spirit. Holy shit, this stuff was good. Hospitals are the best drug dealers. The soul doesn’t matter while on morphine, your mind floats away in a cotton candy cloud of cuddly completeness, your spirit fades away to reveal the true consciousness.
Holy shit, this stuff was good. Hospitals are the best drug dealers. How long had I been here, thinking this? I noticed then that I was still pressing down the plunger.
This was going to be fun.
As long as I didn’t misjudge my dose. Last time I had morphine my tolerance had been quite substantial, and I had just gone on autopilot guided by my blacked-out memories as soon as I had a needle in hand.
Ah, what was the worry? I was in a hospital.

Nathan’s lungs burnt. His limbs burnt. Everything burnt. But he couldn’t stop running. No fucking way would he stop running.
He glanced behind him to check on the others. Jason was right in back of him and Alexis was a few yards back. A few yards behind her were three Unofficial City Force members. They shouted at the band members to stop, but there was no way they were stopping. They had a feeling they wouldn’t live very long if they stopped.
This was a weird town, Nathan thought. A dangerous town. He wished he and the others hadn’t come here. Their initial plans to gain some popularity paled in comparison to the sense of disease and apprehension that had been slowly growing over them all the longer they spent here. Everyone they talked to just seemed off, somehow, like they weren’t really there.
And that was before they saw Lawrence get murdered, his body dragged into a dumpster, and a bag he had in his pocket taken away by the three UCF members that followed them now.
The band members were horrified and curious. They followed the UCF members here to see what they were doing. Imagine, they had only come here to play a show, but what if they discovered some huge conspiracy? What if they exposed an entire city?
That would get their names out there far more efficiently than starting from the ground and working their way up. Sure, maybe that was the “right” way to do it, but this just seemed so much more… fun.
Well, it had seemed that way about ten minutes ago. But once they stumbled upon some sort of ceremony and had accidentally garnered far too much attention to themselves and were chased through the building by the UCF members, each of which was tall, muscular, and armed with at least two guns, well, it didn’t seem quite worth it any more.
“Why the fuck didn’t we just do it the way we were supposed to?” screamed Alexis from the back. “Play a show, have people spread the word? Fuck you, Nathan!”
It had been Nathan’s plan, as much as he regretted it now. It seemed like a good plan at the start. And if he had guessed correctly at the contents of the small bag, he had thought they might get something else good out of the deal.
Turned out, it hadn’t been worth it.
“I’m sorry, all right? I’m fucking sorry,” Nathan yelled over his shoulder. “It was a stupid plan, I just wanted us to be heroes or something.”
“No, you just wanted to get famous. Get rich quick. Stupid fucking plan,” Jason said.
They were running towards two frosted-glass doors at the end of the hallway, but they saw two shadows pass in front of them. They were trapped, they were being closed in on from both sides. But there were three of them behind them, and only two ahead, and the three behind them were far too armed for their – or Nathan’s, at least – liking. He wasn’t sure why the two others were still following him. He had gotten them into this in the first place.
“Get ready,” he yelled behind him as they neared the doors. He looked behind him and saw Jason and Alexis straining to catch up with him. Just as they reached the doors they were side by side. They ran full force into the doors, Nathan hoping they could catch the two people behind the door by surprise.
They did.

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