. . . Goes It So And

September 3, 2015 § 2 Comments

“It will only be a little pinch.”

Doctors always say that. I think they say it more for themselves than for the patient. A little asterisk to fluff their conscious. They hurt you, but they tell themselves it is to help you. They hurt you, but it only hurts a little bit. You tell me when the last time was that you got a shot and it didn’t hurt. The shots that don’t hurt aren’t described as a little pinch, they don’t need to be.

In the years since the civil war, Earth was simply a shell of a civilization. The neighborhoods still stood, but no community to be found. The office buildings still kissed the sky, but no businesses to fill them. There was no economy. No politics. No trust. But there was pain. The civil war took our humanity but it didn’t take our pain.

I was sick of the pain. Fight or flight had served our ancestors well, but I was never one for running, nor fighting really. I was the perfect candidate for the study: weak, depressed, and desperate.

My thoughts were interrupted by the searing pain inflicted by the hundreds of needles suddenly in each vein. No wonder they strapped me down, I thought, running suddenly seemed like the perfect hobby. I could feel the glistening serum fill my veins. With each and every drop I could feel myself changing.

I drifted home after that. What a quack. If anything I was in more pain. My back ached; my knees ached. When we learned how to travel faster than light, so did our knowledge. Cancer was stomped out like a bug within days. Nearly half our population had moved to Mars. But each day we lived with pain.

My disappointment clung to me like dirt. I needed a shower. I scrubbed until my arms were raw but I couldn’t wash away my disappointment. As the steam cleared I looked in the mirror. Terrified, another being looked back at me. His forehead was broad, nose flat, and head rounded. I moved. He moved. I blinked. He blinked.

I was the monster.

I tried to scream but it was a screech that rang out. I needed to see the doctor. I needed to know what was wrong with me. And so I went.

Running down the desolate streets, my backache gradually turned into searing pain. Hunching helped. And so I went.

When I barged into the office the doctor didn’t look surprised. Instead, he looked relieved. I tried to explain my terror but I couldn’t find the words. And so he went.

“I understand your terror. You sought relief from your pain, but to treat your pain would be to treat a symptom, not the cause.”

“Civil war spread like a disease after the human intellect doubled and tripled. It was John Stuart Mill that said ‘it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied,’ but he did not account for the emptiness and desperation that accompanies dissatisfaction.”

“The desire for perfection was a virus that ran rampant after that. We tried to regroup but it was too far-gone. It is only through regression to our primitive selves that can truly cure the pain that civilization suffers from.”

“Consider yourself ground zero for the civilization that is to evolve.”

And so it goes. . .


S. Jamison


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§ 2 Responses to . . . Goes It So And

  • Demosthenes says:

    I love when stories wait until the last minute to reveal their deeper meanings. Your title for this short story was very clever, and I appreciated how it related back to the genetic regression mentioned. (The exacts words out of my mouth were “Oh, that’s why the title…oh.”)

    I find that one of the ideas mentioned in your story is something that I’ve come across not only in Science Fiction but also in other genres of literature. It is the idea that somehow, humans have messed up civilization so badly that the only way to fix it is to go back; erase entirely what we have already created and start over completely. Usually, this idea is presented by mad scientists and dystopian governments. However, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if they are right to think this way.

    Would civilization be better off if we started over from scratch? Would we learn from the mistakes that we have made or just repeat them in the future? I liked how in your story, starting over from the beginning meant starting again from our primitive selves, which is a take on the idea that I have not seen before.

    I seem to hold a very pessimistic view about humans, that no matter where we start from or what we do, we will always manage to mess something up. Even so, we still struggle on as a species and try to find new ways to make things work. Like how in the story, nearly half the population had already moved to Mars. I really liked your story and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to read it!



  • kyleuber says:

    I posted a comment similar to this last night, but I don’t know if it went through.

    Wow, this is a very insightful piece of science fiction. From a stylistic perspective, S. Jamison does a very nice job of dropping the reader into the story without much context. Slowly, as the plot progresses the reader is fed the information and able to compile an understanding of the situation. This is a classic element of science fiction that the author employs very nicely. From a thematic point of view, I agree with the link that the S. Jamison draws between acquiring knowledge and incurring unease. We have all heard the age old adage “ignorance is bliss” and it seems as though the inverse of that statement is true as well. Knowledge, as I see it, leads questions, questions lead to uncertainty, and uncertainty leads to discontent. The question that I have for both the author and the audience at large would be, is the pain that striving for new knowledge inflicts worth the thrill and improvement that a higher collective intelligence grants worth it? To me, I believe that the pain is ultimately worth it — that the benefits of greater knowledge outweigh the pains of the process.


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