((warning: story contains drug use and some sexual content))
Hello! Name's Jubal, nice to meet you. I enjoy loud music, fruity drinks, cheap ecstasy, free love, and no responsibilities. I also enjoy mind melding with other people. Like Star Trek, only I'm not an alien, and my life (sadly) isn't a tv show (yet). This ability wasn't one I was born with. Actually, a lot of people in my community have started turning up with strange abilities of late. For me, it started on a day a few years ago. A day on which I should've died, but didn't.
I was having a good time. There were good and bad days back then, but this day was a good one. I'd woken up on one of those giant bean bag chairs, the really big, really soft kind, snuggled in between several other warm and sleeping people. My head was pounding, which wasn't unusual, so I slipped out and went looking for something to take the edge off. I found some slip of a thing standing on a corner who I didn't recognise. Girls around here are usually offering a fun time of a different sort, but she assured me she was selling what I was looking for.
The pills looked like the kind of cheap uppers that are common around here. They hit similarly too, taking making the world softer on the edges and sharper in the middle, but before too long I found myself feeling different, like static was slowly taking over my body starting at my feet and working upward. By the time the static had reached my head I couldn't stand anymore, and found myself lying on the ground and staring at the sky.
That was the last thing I remember, until I was waking up in the local hospital hooked up to an IV and being attended upon by a very haggard-looking nurse.
"Oh good, you're awake," she said dryly. "Sign here."
She handed me a form and I signed without reading it. It wasn't the first time I'd been brought back from the brink of death, and I knew the drill. It was, however, the first time I'd nearly died after only two pills. It was also the first time I'd woken up after almost dying and not felt like shit.
"Hey, love, can you tell me what's in here?" I asked the nurse, pointing to the IV drip, "I feel like a million bucks."
"New drug on the market. Reverses most OD's without side effects. You're lucky we got that big grant; that bag is the only reason you're still alive."
I shrugged and gave her my thanks. She left and I spent the next hour relishing in the feeling of not feeling like shit. Usually that only happens when I'm high, but if sobriety felt like this on the regular, I might actually give it a try sometime.
I was almost dozing off when another person was wheeled into ward where I was and their bed was pushed up near mine. The guy on the bed had that familiar, ashen look that comes from an overdose. A nurse stuck him with a bag of the same stuff I was hooked up to and wheeled over a crash cart, and left, presumably to get a doctor to use it.
I swung my legs off the side of the bed and stepped over to the guy on the bed. He was breathing, shallow breaths, but getting steadier. I didn't recognize him, but I felt a sort of kinship to him. We were sharing a similar experience today. I put my hand on his arm and gasped. The moment our skin touched I could feel cold like ice water rushing over my body, held at bay only by the spot on my arm where the bag was drip dripping medicine into the vein, the same spot the man in the bed had as well.
I let go of him, and instantly the feeling went away. I stared at him, wondering if it was something on him that had spread to me, somehow. Experimentally, I touched his arm again, and the feeling came back, though not as bad as the first time. As I watched him, color came back to his face, and his breathing became less labored. Shaken, I left the man and returned to my own bed.
I left before the man next to me, but not before pulling the stent from my arm and stealing what was left of the bag that had been attached to it. As far as I was concerned, whatever was in that bag was more valuable than gold if it could bring an overdose victim back so quickly as it had us. I hardly even felt worse for the wear for it.
First, I went to find the girl who had sold me the pills earlier, but instead of her, I found another guy I'd purchased from before on the corner. I asked him about her, thinking maybe she had a bad batch and wanting to warn her about it, but the guy didn't know her, and I had no other leads.
Next, I went to my favorite club. No use in wasting a good day among the living. I had a few drinks and asked a few people if they'd heard of the girl with the weird pills, but no one had. Before too long I found myself sidling up to a guy around my age who looked up for a good time. I beckoned him to join me in the men's room, and soon as we were there I pushed him against the nearest wall and kissed him hard on the lips.
The feeling was instantaneous. I went from mostly sober, aside from a couple drinks, to feeling the best high I'd felt in weeks. That wasn't the only feeling either. I could feel his arousal; how much he wanted this. I dropped to my knees and he dropped his pants. For as long as our skin was touching, I could feel everything I did to him, every touch, every sensation, and when he was finished, the combined feeling of my own pleasure and his left me shaking so hard I had to clutch his waist to keep from falling to the bathroom floor.
As soon as he pulled away and left the bathroom, the feeling of being high left with him. It wasn't like coming off a high, where the good feeling goes away and you feel like shit. It was like flipping a switch, one minute flying, the next, six-weeks-in-rehab sober. I sat on the bathroom floor, still reeling a little from the experience. I was a mess, but I didn't care. That had been better than any drug I'd had in my life, and I'd tried them all at one time or another.
I briefly wondered if I still had some of whatever pharmaceutical they'd given me at the hospital in my veins, but that still wouldn't explain what I'd just experienced. I hadn't taken any drugs since this morning, before the whole overdosing and waking up in the hospital incident. Whatever this was, it was either from the street corner pills, or the hospital IV.
I got off the floor, newly inspired to get to the bottom of whatever was causing this weird empathy thing, but first, I wanted to bring someone different into the bathroom to see if there would be a repeat performance. After all, if I learned nothing else from science class in school, it was that an experiment was only valid if the results could be repeated.
The club closed down at 2 am, and as tempted as I was to go home with some cute girl or guy, I really was even more distracted now with finding out where this ability or power or whatever it was had come from. My experiments had been successful. Very successful. Every person I touched gave me the feeling of their every sensation, not just physical, but emotional too. One girl had been distracted thinking about her boyfriend, who she was cheating on. She never said a word to me about it, but I could feel her guilt, just as clear as I could feel my fingers undoing her bra clasp. It was strange, but what was stranger was how quickly I was adjusting to it. I needed a shower.
Credits: Overlay edit, story, and profile by Faber, Centropolis image and original Yaherra art (c) Subeta artists, background from pexels.com.