Eddie Forkworth stood before the large, refrigerated display case at the local convenience store, silently cursing the absence of “Bee-Stung Bovine”, his favorite energy drink. His college term paper on disaster recovery techniques of the Punic Wars was due the following day, and he knew he would never complete it without chemical assistance. Petulantly, he strode over to the checkout counter where Gus, the store’s owner, leaned in his habitual slouch over the tattered remains of the daily newspaper. “What, no Bee-Stung today??” Eddie demanded.
Gus glanced up slowly with a perfunctory half-smile and shrugged, “Yeah, well.” Ignoring Eddie’s anguished reaction, he returned his gaze to his paper. “But if you’re stuck,” Gus said, eyes still fixed on the page, “the stuff on the bottom shelf.”
Eddie had become accustomed to Gus’s habit of rarely completing a sentence and without further protest retrieved the lone can from its place of obscurity in the beverage case. A garish design of silver and gold assaulted him, emblazoned with the words “Supreme Power” in spidery crimson letters. “Yeah, that,” Gus grunted, “Last one!”
Eddie perused the can’s list of ingredients. “What the hell is trinitrotyrosene? And ethyl alanine?” he wondered aloud, but Gus ignored him until he started digging into his pockets. “This stuff is safe, right?” Eddie asked nervously while counting his change from the transaction, but Gus just nodded and went back to his reading. At least it’s cheap, said Eddie to himself. Gus is right, I really don’t have much of a choice. He headed towards the door with his purchase. “’Til tomorrow!” Gus said finally, but he was already out of earshot. “Then it’s banned.”
Outside the store, Eddie popped open the can and bravely swallowed. It tasted horrible, like a combination of fish oil and rubbing alcohol, and the aftertaste brought tears to his eyes. Fighting back the urge to vomit, he downed another swallow, and another… until finally the vile container was drained. He began walking towards his apartment, expecting the euphoric burst of energy to arrive at any moment.
Just then, a telephone pole caught Eddie between the eyes, and at that moment he realized that he was drunk.
“Rip-off!” he shouted, and hurled the empty can into an alleyway. “I’ll never be able to write this paper now!” He began walking faster, hoping to make it home before the effect of the potion made the task impossible. He could see his apartment building shimmering before him, beckoning him, and he launched himself into a sprint. Only a few more yards to go! He began to giggle with excitement.
A disheveled man in soiled clothing stood by the entrance, rattling a cup. “Spare any change?” he groaned. Eddie could barely contain his mirth. “Oh, yes,” he said, “Most definitely!” He placed his hands squarely on the man’s forehead, and shouted in the most magisterial baritone he could manage, “Be healed, my son!!” The man froze for a moment, his eyes wide with terror, then turned and ran clumsily away, shrieking, “No, no, stay away from me!” Eddie guffawed heartily, and called after him, “Go forth and tell others of what you have seen!” He had never felt such joy, such satisfaction; he had never felt so holy!
As Eddie entered his building and mounted the dingy staircase leading to his tiny apartment, he found himself lucid and at peace. All intoxicating effect from the drink had left him, he realized, along with any desire to complete his assignment. Reaching his bedroom and closing the door behind him, he was wholly and irrevocably convinced of the eternal futility of it. He turned on the television set and flopped down on his bed.
The face of the President appeared on the screen in mid-speech. “… meeting with members of Congress about the worsening threat from Asdzmyxlistan…”
“Aw, who cares?” shouted Eddie at the ceiling, “Just bomb ’em!”
The President broke off and gazed levelly through the screen at Eddie. “Yes, sir, Mr. Forkworth,” he said. “Right away.”