The Meeting

Contributor: David Gill

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The men were gathered around a great table in a conference room on the 78th floor of the Baxter Building.
“We could call it Pep,” one man said.
“Or Zazz” another chimed in.
There arose a clamour in the boardroom as several of the men offered their opinions at once.
Then, the man at the end of the table spoke, “Hell, boys, we can call it whatever we want and people will buy it by the caseload if it’s as good as you say.”
The man at the other end of the table, in a lab coat,
responded, “All the testing sir, ind_
The man at the end of the table cut him off, “I don’t care about the tests, son, what’s it like? Have you tried it?”
The man in the lab coat looked troubled for a moment and then spoke, “I haven’t tried it, sir, but my lab partner did, and I documented his experience very thoroughly.”
The man at the end of the table asked, “Well...?”
The man in the lab coat dabbed at his brow with a handkerchief, “The chaos in his life certainly seemed to get better.” The man in the lab coat paused, “It... went away.”
The man at the end of the table stared. The man in the lab coat continued: “At first the subject was full of newly found confidence. He seemed surer of himself, somehow. There was a marked change in his behavior.”
The man at the end of table said, “...and then?”
“Well sir,” the man in the lab coat stammered, “we’ve since dealt with this, but, the subject, began exhibiting anomalous behavior, he started making mistakes. These were minor concerns we corrected during our dosing calculations; we’ve taken this all into account. But the subject was mistaken about nearly everything. If you asked him who was president, he would respond with the name of a prominent shortstop. If you asked him to do a simple math problem, he’d get it wrong, spectacularly wrong, and then, because of his increased confidence he would berate anyone who tried to correct him. Finally, he left the lab in a huff after some argument, got lost on his way home - it was December - and he died, dropped dead on the sidewalk. Still in the hospital gown.”
The man at the end of the table said, “You’ve fixed it? You’re sure? Johnson, hell, let me try the stuff.”
After a long moment, the man in the lab coat removed a tupperware container from the inside pocket of his lab coat and handed it to the man at the end of the table.
The man at the end of the table opened the container and removed a bright red pill which he then put in his mouth and swallowed, without water.
What struck the man first was the prow of a vessel, its great beam expressing the scope of the pointlessness in all things. The meaninglessness blotted out the sky completely. Tears welled up in his eyes the way sea water rises through the bottom of a sandy hole dug at the shoreline, and he succumbed to quick waves of searing loss and guilt which consumed him. And just as he thought the tragedy too great to lament, he saw how stupid it all was, how inconsequential, and he began to laugh, a great set of giggles that engulfed him until his jaws and abdomen ached. And then like the water emptying a tub, everything left the man at the end of the table, until he was completely empty - without a sense of time, who can say when that was - but after that there was only space and drifting. Without a sense of body, or purpose, or time, just drifting. And then his body, drifting in space, out beyond the first light of the stars, in infinite, inky, blackness.

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My fiction has appeared at the Jersey Devil Press, The Daily Love (!), and is forthcoming in issue one of Theurgy Magazine.
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