I felt the nicotine rush. The sensation filled me, from my head to my feet. Adolf The Addiction had directed my attention to an old pouch of tobacco that wasn’t quite empty. The dust in the pouch was enough for one roll-up. I smoked it and enjoyed it.
My Mum’s coming ’round today to help me clean the flat. We’ll throw away any and all traces of tobacco. Adolf will be at a loss. I’ll be winning. I’ve been sat here for an hour or two, feeling tired. It seems that nicotine wakes you up. It’s a stimulant. Without it I feel like sleeping. Perhaps I’ll sleep around the clock, at first, to numb the cravings into nonexistence.
Len ordered a takeaway last night. I devoured the delicious Singapore style vermicelli noodles. I just finished the Coca-Cola off, supplying my body with its much needed sugar fix. Now I’m awake, and I think I’ll lay down for an hour or two. I need to feel refreshed and alert if I’m going to do anything constructive.
I remember taking home a boxed copy of Beneath A Steel Sky. I remember the game so fondly because of my time with it. I was in my early teens. I’d been in the games shop in the city center.
I’d always calmly and enthusiastically indulge in reading the descriptions, and admiring the pictures, the screenshots on the back of the box. Beneath A Steel Sky stood out, to me. I played the game and was fully immersed in an exciting world. I thought it was so cool.
Playing these old games gives me a sense of nostalgia. I’ve got most of the games I once had, thanks to GOG.com. That’s pretty much all I used to do, read, watch horror films, listen to rock music, and play point-and-click games. This is before truanting school, before fingering birds, before taking drugs, and before getting drunk on the park. This was a simpler time.
I figured I wanted to make games when I was older, even went to visit the game developer Gremlin Interactive, in my home city of Sheffield. The company had a LAN setup with Quake on it in their office space. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It seemed possible, no, probable I could choose this career route. All I had to do was try hard at school.
School was relatively easy. In a way, I sort of blended in. I wasn’t in the clever classes, nor was I in the naughty classes. I was right there in the middle classes, and classes were mainly about study and cooperation. I was on the verge of maturing, and when I was fourteen/fifteen, I could have gone either way.
I chose the path of nonattendance, as my school report so accurately described. I attended four of nine GCSE exams and filled in a meager few pages of each, before closing my papers, and walking out. I didn’t know what would come next. Even though I truanted, not having school as a structure in place was a shock to my system.
I’d smoke cannabis every day and listen to some Enigma, some Genesis. My rock days were long gone, as were the hours of pouring my mind into adventure games. Life moved fast.
I could look back and lament about my wasted potential, though I wasn’t a high achiever. I just did okay. I can’t quite fully envision how my life would have turned out if I had stuck with it and completed my schooling. I might have been developing games. I might have had a wife and kids. I might never have triggered my schizophrenia.
I sit here with my final fag, a can of Coke Zero to my side, and I take a deep breath. I’ve had some good times over the past three decades. I’m not going to complain about who or what I am. I’m going to focus on how I am, and aim to control that. Did things turn out well for me? We’re not over the finish line, yet. Watch this space.
I was in a strange town. I didn’t know where I was, but I was gazing at the streets ahead of us.
“I’m starting to like how everything’s yellow, here” I said to the old school friend that was with me. He was someone I hadn’t talked to in years, someone I don’t even have on Facebook.
He didn’t know what I meant. “Everything’s yellow, look!” I was starting to feel frustrated that he didn’t know what I meant. I stared at all the shop signs. They were all an identical shade of yellow.
I tried to explain, as I gazed around the unfolding streets while we walked, that the shops all had yellow signs, and he was baffled. We stood at a tram stop. He stood next to a big fat woman, but I objected.
I skulked around, realising he couldnt see me. I could hide in plain sight, and I didn’t fully realise why or how, but I was making myself invisible to him, hiding behind a transparent glass screen.
I realised I was with someone else. I found myself at the end of my Mum’s street. I was with a cool kid, someone I didn’t recognise. I liked the guy, though he seemed a bit edgy. I walked along the street to my Mum’s house and all of a sudden my step-dad was threatening to murder the cool kid.
It was revealed to me in a vision that the cool kid had injected me in the neck with a syringe full of anesthetic. He was working with a group who lived near the end of the street where we’d been stood. They wanted me. There was something special in me that they wanted.
I found myself in a spaceship. The cool kid had been apprehended and was being held prisoner to control his actions. I was looking where we were. We were in another galaxy. How far has technology come, I thought, for us to have the capability to travel to other galaxies? I was perplexed. When am I?
I saw the shuttle in a third person view, heading back to The Milky Way. I was astonished. I was busy in the spacious spaceship, controlling a man attached to a rope, getting him to climb up to higher levels. Before I knew it, I’d been beamed down to earth. I was in a present day residential area.
A companion from the spaceship had been beamed down with me. I didn’t recognise him, but felt he was with me, on my side. I exclaimed that we were in Italy, but I was stunned that the streets looked like any old random English residential estate.
I’ll walk through these streets and act the clown, I’ll be aggressive and loud, I thought. Nobody’s going to stop me, they’re all weak. In my mind I was picturing an Italian man kicking off in the streets of England, and how much of a weakling he’d appear to English born people passing by.
I was relaxed. I was perfectly calm. I went for a lay down. Adolf The Addiction told me about a pack of cigarettes in the kitchen. I walked into the kitchen and there they were. Silk Cut Purple. Len had given them to me months ago.
It’s clear I’m not going to raid the ashtray and smoke some dirty roll-ups. A pack of cigarettes is a viable option. Of course, I’m going to screw Adolf over. I’m going to spend Wednesday’s tobacco money on quality products. There won’t be anything in the flat for him to direct me to.
My books are being delivered today, a stark reminder of what I can pursue once I’ve defeated Adolf The Addiction. I’m stronger than he is. All he can do is appeal to my sense of reason, and there’s no good reason to buy anymore tobacco. I’ll smoke these fags and that’ll be it. I will sit again, calm and relaxed.
I feel sick. This is good. I’ve been hammering the tobacco dust. There’s one roll-up left, two at a push. This it is, chaps. We’re doing it, and we’re doing it right. It’s exciting. I like the thought of freeing up funds.
Well, that’s it. I’m a non-smoker. I don’t smoke. I’m smoke free. I’m clean. My lungs are recovering. The air’s clear, well, it will be in half an hour.
“How long have you quit for?”
“I don’t smoke”
“Yeah but how long have you quit?”
“That doesn’t matter. I don’t smoke.”
It’s not about counting the days. I don’t remember when I quit binge drinking. What matters is that I only drink occasionally and socially. What are days going to do for me? Nothing. There are two states to be in. There’s the man who smokes and there’s the man who doesn’t smoke. It’s about living for the moment.
Well, I’m glad I’m done with that habit. Now I can spend money on awesome things. My body will be thanking me for some time. Food will taste and smell better. I’ll have more breath. My emotional state will improve.
Sure, I might still die a slow and painful death for what’s already been done, but nobody, who possesses physical capability, need suffer long. Pull the cord, Susan. We’re going out.
I sit back with Len, knowing it’s okay to be a bit morbid. It’s almost Halloween. It’s refreshing. I’ve been chatting with this goth chick on Facebook. We fancied each other back at school but neither of us acted on it.
She’s into all these blood and gore shock websites. It’s Halloween soon. Why not indulge in a bit of seasonal frivolity? The Christmas trees will be up in my living room the day after, all four of them.
Here’s a toast to healthy lungs, clean-smelling breath, better teeth, more lung capacity, heightened senses, and more money, emphasis on the more money bit. Roll on payday.