NyQuil, NyQuil, NyQuil, we love you, you giant fucking Q!- Denis Leary,
Actor and Comedian, c. 1992* * * *Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.- Andrei Sakharov,
Soviet Nuclear Physicist & Human Rights Activist, c. 1968
OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- The walls explode into a billion points of light, white flame melting away the paint and the drywall and the studs, an entire apartment building gone in an instant.
Everything for miles is illuminated, irradiated, decimated.
The attack could've come from anywhere - from the former Soviet Union, from China or Israel, from Iran or North Korea. Or maybe it wasn't an attack, merely a friendly mistake, an accidental discharge of warheads, an error by NATO or the Air Force or NORAD.
I heard the air raid sirens, the old Civil Defense horns that almost everyone had forgotten, wail moments before detonation. I was still in my bed, no time to react, the alarm clock chirping along to the sounds of a Cold War death knell.
In the infinite nanoseconds between the time the searing radiation melts my flesh and the time my nerve endings register momentary pain, I remember making fun of the old Duck and Cover drills my parents were forced to endure during their childhood.
I think about all of those 1950s post-apocalyptic science fiction movies, the ones where giant cockroaches and one-eyed mutants inherit a scorched, glowing Earth. I wonder, in my final moments, what those mutants and cockroaches will do with their new kingdom -
Suddenly, I'm nothing more than a disembodied wraith, ripped apart atom by atom, radioactive snowfall in one hell of a Nuclear Winter...
Regardless, this the way the world ends.
T.S. Eliot, that old Benedict Arnold of an American poet, had it all wrong. The world does, indeed, end with a bang. Hiroshima and Nagasaki made going out with a whimper an impossibility decades ago.
* * * *
"It's the NyQuil. Goddamn shit always makes me hallucinate."
NyQuil, the Green Death in a Bottle illness killer, one of the great pharmaceutical marvels of the 20th century.
While it certainly helps relieve the symptoms of the flu, it does so at the expense of one's sense of reality.
A copy of Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom, Andrei Sakharov's 1968 treatise on the dangers of the nuclear arms race, rests underneath my left hand, on top of the bedspread.
"Way to go, genius! Pass out reading about the goddamn threat of nuclear war!"
I awake to a world that has yet to be annihilated in a nuclear war. My flesh is still attached to my bones, my atoms still in place, the giant cockroaches and mutants nowhere to be found.
NyQuil and Sakharov's writings fueled my catatonic nightmare, danced together in my brain as I lay unconscious, fed lies into a thousand neurons and fragmented thoughts...
One should never read about the insanity of a world filled Mutual Assured Destruction and anti-ballistic defense systems while on cold medication.
* * * *
I stare up at the ceiling, trying to focus on something other than my nuclear holocaust of a nightmare. The mucus starts to wake from its drug-induced slumber, too, starts to creep back into my nostrils and sinus cavities as I regain consciousness.
Ten whole hours of uninterrupted rest.
An over-the-counter, drug-induced coma of a slumber.
And all I can think about is the end of the world.
"Well," I tell myself, "At least the fever's gone...
"Maybe you can get through a whole day at the office today..."
Jesus fucking Christ.
What a hell of a way to start the day.
* * * *
I, of course, couldn't make it through a solid workday.
I went home at lunchtime, on a Tuesday, and sprawled out on the living room floor. Another vial of magical Green Death melted away the mucus and body aches, melted away reality once more.
I flipped on the television, popped in a DVD copy of an old television series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
I haphazardly watch as a fictional 20th century astronaut adjusts to life on a fictional 25th century Earth - a post-apocalyptic future where talking robots dance to futuristic disco and all of the women wear skintight jumpsuits.
Science fact doesn't mix well reality-altering cold medications.
But science fiction, on the other hand...
* * * *
Erin Gray in the Famous Blue Catsuit, waiting on the other side of a fictional Nuclear War?
Or Sakharov-inspired visions of one-eyed mutants and killer cockroaches?
Not a hard choice.
- # # # -