More Than Life

Entry by: Alobear

27th May 2015
More Than Life

“It’s more than life, man! Don’t you get it? More…than…life!”

The man grabbed my arms and shook me in sync with his words. His eyes were wide and crazed, and his tone was desperate. He was skeletally thin, the veins standing out clearly in his neck, his ragged clothes hanging off him. He smelled of old sweat and new chemicals. His fingers dug painfully into my flesh as he tried to impart his message.

“Get off me, creep!” I cried, attempting to dislodge him, but he was stronger than he looked and I couldn’t immediately get him to let me go.

“It’s more than life!” he said again, his voice rising to an almost screech by the end of the statement.

I shoved him more violently and he staggered to one side, nearly falling but catching himself and stumbling off down the road, muttering.

Just another day on the streets, I thought, bitterly, setting the encounter aside and returning to my own journey.

I’d been living rough for a couple of weeks now, and was starting to get the feel for some of the rhythms of it: which areas to avoid, where to go to get help, a few trustworthy folk to connect with, and some to resist at all costs.

The main thing I had learned was that escape was possible, but that it had a heavy price. I had been told that youth and even slight attractiveness could be used as currency in this new society in which I had found myself. And the thing to buy was Unreal, or at least that’s what the others I’d met called it. From what I’d heard, the drug could take you away from reality, far away to another place altogether, where all the hardships and unpleasantness melted from you. It was a seductive promise, and mine for the taking if I wanted it.

I could understand the appeal. Sinking into Unreal would be so easy; an end to the problems stacked up against me, the quick route to oblivion. But I wasn’t ready to take that step yet. The guy who’d just bumped into me might be having the time of his ‘more than life’ in his head, but his place in the real world was pretty much permanently stuck in the quagmire by this point. I hadn’t yet given up on making it back to respectability; I still had options and I was determined to make use of them while I could. There was a plan I was about to set in motion that would hopefully see me back in a job and with a roof over my head before too long.

I looked back over my shoulder at the shambling figure making its way slowly down the road in the opposite direction. It might be that my fate would lead me down that very road one day. But that day wasn’t today; for the time being, I still wanted to make the most of ‘actual life’, tough though it might be.