Immortality! by Mark Grealish

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SUMMARY: A drug overdose leads to tall tales.

''Ahhh, Immortality!'' Xiang Hao drawls slowly, ''Living forever young. Gives you that kick to get your ass out of bed each and every morning. Feels Olympian doing it.''

I wave my hand in front of his eyes. They don't react. ''You're high, Hao...Jesus. Just what the fuck are you on?'' His veined hand twitches and there's a glint of glass. I pull open his clenched fist to reveal a small bottle printed with neat little Mandarin characters marching in a neat little row above its English name: ''Dihydrocodeine? You're on fucking morphine?''
''Meet new people. Meet all of them because you have the time,'' Hao slurs softly in a sad singsong voice. ''Talk to them. Love them. Hate them. Flirt. Argue. Them. Sleep with them all, if y' want.''
''HAO!'' I shout, shaking him. ''Wake the fuck up!'' I'm frightened. ''Tell me you're okay or I'm calling Nkosi.''
Tremors run through Hao's body as he takes a deep breath. His dead look right through me, above me, toward a cabinet. ''Nnnn...no. Nkosi. Don't. Small cabin. Et. CABINET. Blue box.''

I push Hao off to one side and open the cabinet. There's a neat little green plastic box velcroed into one corner that I open up. There's a single air-jet hypo inside with INJECT ME written on it in Hao's spidery handwriting. I brace myself against a bulkhead and slam it into the side of Xiang's neck. There's a click and a hiss as it fires off its contents. His body starts to shudder scarce seconds later and then Hao is vomiting noisily. On me. He moans and coughs miserably for a full minute more before I cave in, take a bottle of water from his cooler and hand it to him.
''Thank you for the vomit. Fucking terrific. Are you trying to kill yourself?''
He drains the bottle before answering. ''Yes...No. No, not like you would imagine.''
''Don't, please don't. Give me your usual bullshit and I'll call Nkosi.'' I push past Xiang for the hatchway, but he grabs me by the shoulder before snatching his back, covered in vomit.
''I'd rather that you not. Nkosi wouldn't understand.''
''Understand what?'' I snap, ''that we're three AU from Earth and you've finally fucking cracked. Is that it? Say 'fuck you' to your everyone that depends on you. Do you ever think about your fucking friends you chink bastard! Down a fucking bottle of morphine and go out peacefully in a coma?'' I'm crying, grasping at Hao, trying to hit him. Don't know what I'm fucking saying. Feel like I'm ten years old again watching dad walk out the door. I keep this up for a few minutes (I think?) while Xiang shushes me and calms me down.
''Are you done?'' he asks at last. ''Good. This wasn't suicide and it is not an addiction. Do you understand that?'' I nod, and he continues with, ''this stays right here between us, or there will be consequences.''
''Such as what? I walk home without a suit?''
''No. I've done terrible things in my life, but I will not do that to you. I won't threaten even threaten you, for all the good it would to. I'm asking you to do this. Please Jason, just do this for me.''
''Tell me why,'' I demand, ''or I'm getting Nkosi in here to lock you up.

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