I wake to the wrong kind of burn eating through me. It’s like I can feel each vein, millions of little tendrils lighting up like a system map, the pain glowing infiltration red. When I reach out for the patches my arm fires up, attack in progress, and I laugh. It occurs to me, as I finally get one and slap it on the smooth skin between my pelvis and thigh, that anyone listening would think it I was crying, given the sound. I wonder if it can still count as a laugh, then, but the drugs start kicking in and I stop caring as I get the return to system normal.
It was stupid, falling asleep without swapping patches. Five fucking years of this, it should be mindless by now.
But it isn’t, and I’m forced to sit here, watching filtered afternoon sunlight stretch across the room like a barrier. Dust motes sparkle more than wasteland dirt, weightless as I feel, but the light sucks the colour from everything in the room. It pulls it all in, pains substance and depth in its greed, thickens like packing gel. It spreads, expanding into the apartment, over the clothes I’d left on my way to the mattress, draining vibrant green and hot pink to ash grey, and I’m glad my jeans are in the bathroom, worn baby blue safe on the other side of the sun.
The light reaches the mattress, pushes over the sheets, but they’re so old they have no colour left to offer. The sun touches my foot, warm as a touch-up booth, and sucks away the pigment. One second and my hundred credit dye job is gone, leaving corpse white it’d cost me a thousand to fake.
I watch the sun envelop me from the feet up, killing me by inches, preserving as it goes. Over my knees, dipping down between my legs, up again to claim the bright yellow of the star-shaped patch, heavy on my chest scars. The weight makes it difficult to breathe, even before it flows over the flawless skin of my face, over my head and the flawed brain underneath. Wraps me up, stored, ready to ship return to sender. The air is stale, trapped around my mouth by the sunlight cast.
Everything tingles. I can’t move. This shit is a hell of a lot easier to deal with when you sleep through it.