The man left his house, one among a sea of many exact replicas. Except his branded an R, his letter. The ones next to his had a Q and the other an S. Without them, the man probably wouldn’t know which one was his. He got in his car, also a mirror image of his neighbors’, and started down the road, headed for work.
His mind wandering, he wondered how his kids were doing, and what they even looked like. He hadn’t seen them since they were born, where they were promptly taken away so they could be raised properly. It was long since discovered that parents perhaps weren’t the best at parenting their children. Now it was left to professionals. It was better that way. And he would be able to see his son in a few years, when he turned 18, and that would be nice. And then they would be able to go together to receive his son’s job assignment. That would be even nicer.
Pulling into the parking garage, he found his spot, letter R, and swiftly parked his car. He had arrived at the same time as some of his coworkers, and they cheerily walked in together, although the man was a bit less cheery than the others. His smile wasn’t as wide, nor were his eyes as bright. Though to the casual observer, this wasn’t quite obvious. He was getting good at it, he had to. Otherwise, they would find out he wasn’t taking his pills. And that wouldn’t be tolerated. They all had to take their pills.
He found out he liked the days much better without them when he had forgotten to take them once. He figured one measly day wouldn’t be too big of a deal. He found his head to be much clearer. And that was nice. So he skipped them the next day, and the next. He was able to do his work better and faster too. That didn’t seem to please his supervisors. They questioned him, asking why he was done before everyone else, and made him feel uncomfortable. So he slowed back down, and did his best to match the pace of his coworkers. But he couldn’t bring himself to again take the pills, so he didn’t.
He found he could also remember a lot more without them too. Before, he barely even remembered he had children. Now, he could still see their tiny, squished, newly born faces when he closed his eyes. Sometimes, when he thought about how they were taken from him, he felt this horrible sensation sweep through his body that made his chest feel heavy. He was confused as to what that was, and why it happened. He also began to remember things from when he was still being raised, but these memories were faint and fuzzy. At first, he didn’t really want to remember those ones anyway. They didn’t seem nice, and gave him that sinking feeling. But he was starting to get curious, and began pressing it a little harder, trying to focus. He was sure they would come back to him soon enough.
He draped his black coat over the back of his dark office chair and started up his computer. His coworkers where chipper as usual, their fingers pecking at their keyboards in strikingly similar strokes, their eyes holding a glassy sheen. He too started at his keyboard, his strokes a little faster and out of synch with the rest. His typing had significantly improved since he started neglecting his pills, which he enjoyed. It gave him a sense of accomplishment. But he was also beginning to get restless, doing all this typing every day. It wasn’t as fun as it used to be, he wanted to do something different. Maybe they would give him another job if he asked. He heard some people had jobs that involved drawing, which sounded nice. He had never tried it before, but he felt he would probably be good at it. They probably wouldn’t reassign him though, he never heard of such a thing. Maybe he could find time to try while at work. They probably wouldn’t mind much. Or perhaps he could hide it. That might be better.
“How’s your day going?”
He looked up. It was his supervisor. He hadn’t heard him coming.
“Quite well, thank you sir.”
He glanced down at the floor, and caught a glimpse of his supervisor’s polished black shoes. He suddenly remembered he hadn’t polished his shoes in a while. He should probably do that, they were probably going to notice soon. Everyone’s uniform, a light grey business suit clad with a black tie, was to look the same. It greatly angered the supervisors when someone’s uniform was out of place.
“Are you sure you’re feeling alright? We’ve noticed you’ve been a little… off, lately.”
“No, no I’ve been fine.”
“Well we called home and spoke to your wife, to see if everything had been okay. She said that she noticed you haven’t been taking your pills, and seemed quite concerned.”
“Oh, well, I have forgotten a few days,” he started to lie, “But I remembered this morning and…”
His supervisor seemed to have stopped listening and reached into his pocket, producing a small white bottle. He opened it up and shook three small, yellow tablets into the palm of his hand and dumped them on the desk.
“Oh no really sir, I took them already and...”
“Well,” his supervisor interrupted, “a few more wouldn’t hurt.”
The man didn’t want to take them. He thought of maybe leaving. Walking away. He didn’t like working here anyway. He could go someplace else. And he heard that the supervisors didn’t take their pills. That wasn’t fair. He didn’t want to take his either.
Still in his chair, he peered up at his supervisor, meeting his drilling gaze. He quickly glanced back at the pills that lay on his desk, taunting him with promises of numbness and fog. He again shifted his eyes back up to his supervisor, his face that of a small child being told to clean his room.
Slowly, he scooped up the pills, threw back his head, and swallowed. His eyes wandered yet again to his supervisor, perhaps looking for signs of approval, and found a newly placed smile. He smiled back.