One Percent

   Eve Renee Rankin, Architect 3B. That’s what my birth certificate said. My parents, and my parents’ parents, and my parents’ parents’ parents, had all tested very highly in the qualities that make for excellent architects – math and attention to detail and all that crap. So before I was even born, the factory that mixed everyone’s doses had already made my special cocktail. I can imagine the nursery, all painted with circles (statistically, circles have been shown to make people in waiting rooms 36% less restless), and with boxes and boxes of droppers and pills stuffed in the closet, enough for the rest of my life. My special brand of happiness and purpose and well-being waiting for me to be born.

Seratophim-OT. Members of the New Unified States that had it in their dose? 100%. It wasn’t really an anti-depressant. More like – no bad days. Ever.

    “Good luck on your thing today,” my sister said as I stuffed things into my backpack. “With the administrator.”  She swallowed her dose with a glass of Vitawater and checked to make sure her work shirt was tucked in. Off to another day in her windowless office where she sorted vehicle registrations as a Clerical 4subF. Sixty hour work weeks, but she didn’t seem to mind. She smiled mildly at me; when she kissed the side of my head on her way out, her breath smelled fruity.

Ginsenamine. In 67% of doses. A chemically altered ginseng derivative that rendered caffeine (with its mood swings and irritability) a thing of the last century. For that little pick me up that 67% of the population seemed to need to stay productive (previously called “night people.”)

    I shoved a mouthful of coffee beans into my mouth and crunched them.
    “What’s that?” my sister asked, pausing at the door.
    “Granola,” I said.
Adaran-D. 47% of the population took this until they were twenty-two, and then 12% of them continued taking it. For those who just couldn’t find it in them to sit straight in class and color inside the lines. Could cause some liver damage, later in life. Also caused fruity-smelling breath in some individuals.

    The knock on the door was Horatio. He smiled at me. “Ready to be told you’re brilliant?”
    I put on my back pack; it was way heavier than usual, but that couldn’t be helped. “Absolutely can’t wait,” I said.
    I stopped to pet our dog, Tiger, on the way out. He panted up at me, tail waving his pleasure, the whites of his eyes faintly yellow. He didn’t follow us into the lawn. Instead, he just threw himself down again by the door, sleepy like always.
    “Nice day,” Horatio said.

Sededent. 76%. Discouraged physical activity; combination of muscle relaxants and mood depressors make exercise not only unappealing but difficult. Shown in most studies to improve job performance and satisfaction of desk workers (76% of the population), including Architects, by 82%. Side effects in 2% of the population included perpetual nausea, bloating, and headaches.

    The State Administrator’s office loomed before us, a huge, shining white box, mirrored windows reflecting the always faintly pink sky.
    Horatio took my hand for courage and together we went in to the front information desk.
    “You must be the students who won the High Marks program,” the secretary said. Her eyes were dull, but her smile was bright and convincing. “Top 1% of your class, right?”
    “Of all classes in the state,” I corrected. It seemed rather important at the moment. I readjusted my back pack.

Papillion4. An additive that rendered the recipient color-blind. Double-blind studies across four states had shown that the inability to decipher color reduced interpersonal conflict by 76%. Given to 17% of the population whose personality test suggested the potential for possible deviancies from normal inter-personal behavior.

    “What’s this?” the administrator asked, as I placed the tin in front of him, on top of the paperwork and dosing information for both Horatio and I. He had the unclouded, brilliant look to his eyes that all the high up officials had, and his movements were more deft than my sister’s or Horatio’s.
    “Cookies,” I said. “In the shape of the state.”
    He opened them up and smiled at them. “Indeed. How architectural.” He turned his smile to me then, for turning out so well. Truly my life-in-a-bottle had not gone to waste, considering my disastrous family history. Me, top 1% of all classes in the state. As if they needed any other advertisement for the state dosing program.
    The administrator took one out and studied it. It was perfectly to scale. “How delightful,” he said again.

Peranthinate. Included in the doses of the 1% of the population whose personality type and family history testing resulted in the Anarchist designation. Mild hallucinogen that removes all highs and lows from moods, stunts growth, causes muscle atrophy in 14% of recipients, and tints the whites of the eyes yellow.

    He took a bite, then shoved the rest of the cookie in his mouth. “Delicious,” he said to me.
    I tugged Horatio’s arm. “We need to get out of here.”
    Probably my voice gave it away. The administrator looked up at me, right into my eyes, and he frowned. 

Author’s Note: Too many drug commercials on TV, I think, is what did me in.

photo by sparktography.

37 thoughts on “One Percent

  1. This was so hard to keep short! It was hard, period — I feel like saying, “Ok, Story, rematch?”

  2. 😛 This is great! I loved it. (And I wonder what sort of pills they would give to writers… :X)

  3. First paragraph if beautiful! Perfectly constructed.

    I also like the way you peppered in the drug names and designation. Some very subtle and complex stuff going on there. Drug names: thumbs up, especially Papillion4. Love.

    But woah! Animal cruelty!!! 😉

  4. Okay, it was totally mean of her to drug the dog. But someone had to be even tempered, and it wasn’t going to be her.

  5. Nice clue with the dog. Tiger. Used to be a shepherd. No dogs called Tiger. Every old farmer had a Ben or a Duke, but no Tiger. “Get away back Tiger. Walk up Tiger.” My old, now a ghost, dog Tip is grinning. I smiled all the way through. No creepy for me. So many ways for the administrator to die. Whats in the back pack?

    Were you laughing, feeling cheeky, smiling, writing this? I’m asking because I was smiling so much. I think you touched your dog too, because my hand reached down to pat a dog and I turned to look. Ooops, no dog.

    Love your work.

  6. That there is some good, high quality dystopia. Liked it VERY much, epecially the descriptions of the various drugs woven in. And i agree, this is something that would be awesome in a longer format too.

  7. Wow. I enjoyed that. My major was biochem and I aced medicinal chemistry, but now I work in a completely unrelated field and this was very cool to read.

  8. I’m beginning to think this is either a character fault of mine or a fault with flash fiction in general!

  9. So true! My thought was that the states lost all their individual rights (as did people, in my book’s world). What was your thought?

  10. My dad is a doctor and I worked for him for a year — seeing the new drugs the drug reps brought in was pretty terrifying!

    And thanks!

  11. That’s the story and we should stick to it.

    It’s a pretty obvious conclusion, though, considering how history’s been going . . .

  12. Ooh, drug-dystopia–I love it! I particularly like the cocktailing aspect. It seems like so many dystopias are predicated upon everyone getting up and taking the same pill, but these people all have their sense of well-being tailor-made 😀

  13. Just like us . . . 😉

    Thanks. I’d still like to take another whack at this one. With a couple thousand more words.

  14. Hmmm, drug dystopia.

    I suppose it says something about me that I want to see into the minds of the people who thought up and keep the drugs going? Hmm. c.C

  15. Hahahaha!!! I WOULD say something really snarky and political here, but this blog is a political-no-fly zone!

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