No Chance

“How long?” Agent Chance asked. He stared at the small, translucent-orange pill bottle.

“How long what?” Gus, the quartermaster, asked. Gus was in the middle of gearing Agent Chance for his mission when the tall, broad-shouldered man interrupted.

“How long after taking two pills do I have to wait before I can take one again?” Gus shook his head.

“Never. That’s it, two pills in your entire lifetime,” Gus pushed the pill bottle into the agent’s hand.

“And if I take the third one, what. It kills me?” Again, Gus shook his head.

“Probably not if you’re close to a hospital. But it breaks you, for lack of a better word.”

“Breaks me?” Agent chance lifted the bottle to eye level and peered at the tiny orange-tinted pink pills. “Bones heal, that doesn’t seem too bad.”

“No, it doesn’t break your bones, it breaks you, your ability to heal. All the damage it undid for the first two pills comes back. Not only that, it heals again after.”

“Okay so some extra pain doesn’t seem too b-“

“Then the wounds reappear again,” Gus interrupted. “Then,” he smiled. “They heal again.”

“Well that,..”

“Then they appear again,” Gus said.

“And then they heal again?” Agent Chance asked. Gus nodded.

“Now you’ve got it. C’mere and I’ll show you something.” He led the agent out of the small lab and into a walk-in freezer. “The cold slows the process enough to make it manageable,” Gus explained in the freezer. He pointed at a shoebox-sized transparent container. At the bottom of the container, the agent noticed a mouse laying in a pool of blood.

“We gave this mouse the equivalent of 3 pills while he suffered a fatal wound. We can kill him, he’s not immortal. But if we don’t,…” Gus shrugged. “He’s been bleeding for two months. His body won’t heal anymore. If we keep him cold, his body can produce blood as fast as it loses it. But that’s all he can do anymore.”

“This is too weird,” Agent Chance glanced at the pill bottle again. This time he tried to eyeball how many pills it contained. “I might regret asking, but what happens at four pills?”

“Nothing. We went up to 15 pills on some mice, but nothing happens after three. Once you’re broken, you’re broken.”

“Okay.” Agent Chance opened the bottle of pills and poured them all out into his hand. He separated two and put them back in the bottle, then gave the remaining handful to Gus.

“Here, I don’t need more than two out there. I don’t want any accidents if I get distracted.”


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