Thoughts raced through his mind, some seeming to burrow tunnels. He couldn’t hear his scream above the noise in his head.
The money had looked good. More than the usual chump change for volunteering as a lab rat for the psych department. “Clinical depression a plus,” the listing said. Charles laughed. His depression was a plus?
He got to the psych lab early. Stacey gave him the forms. He used poetic license on them. “Do you think about suicide?” He checked “often.” “Have you ever attempted suicide?” “Are you currently taking medication?” He decided to be cautious, answering no for both. What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.
Stacey called the next day. “Can you make it Saturday?” He sure could.
More forms, disclaimers listing possible complications. He had his appendix out, the consent forms were the same. Scary stuff listed, but never really happened. He signed and Stacey took the clipboard, nodding once.
He fidgeted in a small room with a big mirror. Finally Stacey opened the door. Putting a pill bottle and a Coke on the table, she sat. “It’s a new anti-depressant. You’re not taking medication, so we can begin today.” He agreed to return for a dose daily for ten days.
“It works in ten days?” He shook the pill bottle, surprised.
“We anticipate beneficial changes in brain chemistry within 48 hours,” Stacey told him. She took the bottle and dropped the capsule into his hand. He popped it, washing it down with soda.
Sleepiness hit hard that night. He was asleep by 11:00. Probably the Prozac and new med didn’t mix. He’d stop the Prozac. He woke suddenly, more than rested. He was ready to get going. Weird thing was it was only 4:00. No problem. That history paper needed work. An hour later, he hit PRINT. He finished the paper in an hour? This stuff was good. It was better than they said.
His mind worked overtime. Helped during calculus, but afterward he couldn’t stop doing proofs. New ideas chased each other, leaving no room for basic physical coordination. He stumbled through campus to the lab. This stuff was great. He just had to get control of it.
In the small room, he held his head and breathed deeply. Stacey frowned and turned to the mirror. A knock at the door. He listened to the rumble of the man’s voice. Stacey returned and gave him the capsule.
“We’d like you to stay for an hour this time, okay?” He nodded, his brain bouncing in his head.
He felt the med hit his bloodstream, blossoming in his mind. He smelled colors, heard the vibrations of molecules. Thoughts blasted together, drilling through his head. The noise was overwhelming. He didn’t feel himself fall from his chair, curl up under the table, cover his ears. He didn’t hear his own screams.
He didn’t hear Stacey. “I don’t understand. He got the placebo.”
© 2010 Jessica Rosen
Begun with one of my own #storystarters.