After eating some canned peas, I got up and stretched. “Back to work.” Continuing my morning ritual of dabbing Wish on my tongue, I set out for the camp. The stimulant in my system added some pep in my step. Streets were jagged while buildings were either toppled or damaged. The camp entered my line of sight with wanderers walking the streets. I tightened my backpacks’ straps as I entered the crowd. Makeshift stalls dotted the vicinity but mostly around the gated pharmacy.
“Wish for food! Food for Wish!” A gruff man shouted. I walked to him, placing a squirrel on the table.
“You look like you want to trade for some premium steak.” I said with a smirk.
“Fura if you don’t get your ass out of here.” The man chuckled. “I can give you a third of a days’ Wish for it.”
“Wait, Hap, I thought it’d be worth half.”
“Mr. Jerril is making it harder to acquire Wish so we’ve had to raise prices…I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you half a Wish just this once.” Happy, or Hap as he prefers, filled my vial with half a dab of pink powder before I gave him a hug and went on my way.
‘Now what?’ I thought. ‘I overheard the guards complain about old gasoline messing up the generators. I can filter some gas through a rug and trade them.’ That’s when someone waved me down.
“Fura, right?” He said. “Trader from out of town came by looking for a few things. I heard he’s willing to trade for instant coffee. Someone said you saved some so want me to hook you up?”
I contemplated before responding. “What does he want in return? Who is he?”
“Said he’s from the Wish distribution warehouse south a few miles. He’s trading Wish. Pass me a stick of coffee and I’ll talk to him.”
“That seems too good of a deal.”
He shrugs, “After the factories got bombed, the warehouses held the most Wish so maybe they still have plenty left?”
“Okay…deal. I’ll be back by the afternoon.” I took the long route back home to avoid being followed. As I passed through a building I noticed a woman sitting against the wall. She had a stab wound in her chest. In shaking my head I saw a pretty heart-shaped locket around her neck. I reaching over and snapped it off her neck and tucked it into my pocket. “Sorry.” This wasn’t the first corpse I had seen but usually they had died from withdrawal.
Soon I arrived home, a hidden room on third floor of an office building. I quickly grabbed the coffee then left. “Alright Fura, hope this goes well.” I opted to take a short cut to camp to save time. The route was simple and I wouldn’t need to tire myself out.
“Hey.” A voice called from behind me as my heart jumped while I turned around. “Do…Do you have any Wish. I just need a little and I can get back on my feet.” I held the knife in my pocket firmly. He was shaking with beads of sweat dripping all over.
“…No, I got nothing-”
“Please!” He said half-angrily, half-pleading. He stepped forward until he saw my knife. “I have some stored away. I just can’t remember where. Was off it too long it mest with my head. I can pay you back.” He slurred.
“Don’t follow me. Find someone else to help.” He shot me a pleading eye as I wrapped the corner of a building and darted away. ‘It must be his second day without Wish. He still has another day or two. Hopefully he didn’t see where my home is.’ Nothing else eventful happened on the way to camp. The middle man told me where to go and I passed him a stick of coffee. Trading large quantities of Wish was dangerous and needed to be done away from prying eyes. I peeked down the alleyway we were supposed to meet and he was sitting there with a duffle bag when he noticed me. The old man propped himself up with a cane as I approached.
“Furaha, correct? Let me guess, that means-”
“If you say it means happy the deal’s off.” I spoke sternly. All he did was smile and nod.
“I hear you have some instant coffee. They’re popular around my way because of the long shelf life. I can cut you a quarter per stick.” I pulled out three boxes from my bag. He smiled while reaching in his bag. It was then I felt a sharp pain against the side of my head and fell to the ground.
“Gramps get ready to go.”
“Be quick, we’re still in town. After the warehouse dried up we need every bit we can get.” I could only see a blur but I saw my pockets being frisked. I tried to get up but the second man swung his pipe and everything went dark. When I opened my eyes it was night. I cradled my head and took in my surroundings. My bag was gone and my pockets were empty but I was still in the alleyway.
“Dammit!” I punched the floor. It was then that a sparkle caught my attention. They dropped the heart-shaped locket. Putting the locket back in my pocket, I took a deep breath and walked straight home. The Sun peaked over the horizon by the time I got there. “I’ll need another dab soon.” I entered the office building and climbed upstairs. Everything was still intact but that relief was short lived when I heard whispering from the staircase. Quickly, I ducked behind office desks.
“Shh.” The woman hushed. They split up and I reached for a spare knife. Thankfully the building was dark but that didn’t provide me much solace. I waited for the male to approach when a light shined my way. “There!” The woman shouted with a flashlight. A second later a loud bang erupts and I quickly realize the man had a gun.
“Shit!” I ran to the opposite end of the building. Another shot fired and missed but I could tell he was spacing out his shots as to not waste bullets. By the time I made it to the windows there was nowhere left to run. A bullet whizzed past my head and in ducking I noticed the concrete awning for the building. I jumped out the broken window and fell two stories onto the awning. My right foot hit the concrete and twisted as I screamed briefly in pain before rolling off and dropping one more story. I gritted my teeth and began running. Three blocks later I collapsed as my ankle started throbbing. I panted for air when I saw a separate group of people notice me. They seemed geared and immediately started sprinting my way. I ran while limping and a sharp pain coming from my foot whenever I stepped too hard on it. They were catching up I couldn’t run forever so I ran into a water company’s building. Pipes were laid about everywhere along the walls. I climbed a pipe next to me and rested in between the gap of a few pipes and the ceiling. The pipes were wide enough for me to lie down alongside them. Moments later the three individuals barged in.
“Keep an eye out.” One spoke. “I’ll look around; you guys go on and yell if you see her.” The two younger men ran without question to the back door. “Goddamn, she better be worth it.” I prayed that the lack of light in this room hid me from his sight. After a few minutes of searching the man finally left. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I lightly chuckled before laying my head down to rest. I somehow mistakenly fell asleep. When I woke up, it was quiet but my body was stiff. I climbed down slowly as not to agitate my ankle.
‘I need to go home. Hope everything is still there.’ I tried not to worry about it but the most pressing issue remained. My body needed Wish. I could feel it in my system. I stepped outside where the Sun was halfway through the sky as I walked back home. I moved cautiously and kept an eye out for others. I walked into the office and tip-toed upstairs. The building remained quiet and it appeared like the couple left. Though, my heart dropped when my home had been torn apart. My supplies were gone but the worst fact was that I couldn’t find my Wish. ‘No, no, no!’ That’s when the panicking started to sink in. My last hope was that my traps by the park had caught something so that I could trade it. As much as my foot hurt, I needed to move. Along the way I damned the people who chased me and threatened to hunt them down. By sunset I made it to the park but none of my traps had earned me a catch. The hunger and exhaustion got the best of me and against my better judgement I took shelter in a building and slept through the night.
I awoke to my hands shaking. ‘Two days. I need to hurry but…maybe Hap. I know he’ll help me.’ It took the better part of the day to make it the camp. ‘Why the hell did we have to get addicted to Wish? Why did they have to go to war? For nothing! No one can make Wish anymore and now we’re all dying slowly waiting for it to run out!’ I decided to take the alleyways into camp because I didn’t want people to see me. At this point the shakes wouldn’t stop and I was sweating profusely. Finally I could see Hap. He was haggling with a customer and when he finished he noticed me. We locked eyes; he could see from a glance what I had been through, the help that I’d need. He opened his mouth, but soon shut it before looking away. I kept looking at him hoping for something. I knew he had seen many friends go this way; I know they must’ve asked him for help, but I was different. We were close. The longer I stood there the more I realized it was over for me. I limped out of camp and walked into every building in sight. I went through everything to find Wish. By nightfall the only thing I could do was curl up in some corner. My clothes were soaked in sweat and my thoughts tried to distract me from my situation. I remembered my parents telling me centuries ago people never used Wish. People were depressed and fought but I’d give anything to not be attached to this drug. I would curse my mother for giving me this addiction while in her womb but it was for her own life as well. As was her mother’s and so on. I reached into my pocket and examined the locket. It was tiny with a thin crevice on the side. I dug my nail in and with a click it popped open.
I just laid there and laughed. My laughing soon turned to crying. The locket held a single dab of Wish. At this point I couldn’t bring myself to take it. ‘After this, then what? Find more? We’re all dead anyway. It’s just a matter of time.’ I knew there was no future for me if I took this path but neither was there a future if I died. In the end I knew I would feel better once I succumbed to it. So I slowly took one more Wish.