Dystopian Vaping (Pt. II)
For those that are futurists (and grim futurists, at that), I’ve written a work of fiction that represents vaping’s tomorrow, if prohibitions and regulations continue to hamper the vaping industry. Keep in mind, this is an ongoing work of fiction, released episodically. It was written by a fatalist and for fatalists. If you’re entertained, I’ve done my job. If you’re scared, I’ve done my job well.
To read Part I of this unfortunate saga, click here!
When the battering ram hit the door, there wasn’t a sound on the other side. The screaming, well-armored prohibition agents burst into the shabby house, armed as if the fate of the Western World depended on their search and seizure therein. Automatic rifles, riot shields, tear-gas canisters, kevlar vests, and combat knives so lethal they resembled constructivist works of post-modern art were made humorous by the absolute peace and stillness waiting on the other side.
What they found was a complete e-juice manufacturing operation, boxed up and waiting for them. Puzzled, the adrenaline-cranked prohibition agents kicked over the boxes, conveniently labeled “PG,” “VG,” “NIC,” and “FLAV.” Obscenely long bayonets punctured these bottles, and sweet, syrupy aromas brightened the air.
The two suspects were nowhere to be found. Walls were kicked, tiled were unearthed, attics “smoked out,” and two meandering dogs (unaffiliated in the bootleg operation) were butchered at the property line by machine gun fire.
With a deep curse, Captain Fuller removed his mask. “We got everything,” He said, his words distorted by the cigar in his teeth. He lit the stogie with a match. “Everything but the cloud-slingers what done this.”
The rest of the crew taped off the remarkably sterile and presentable crime scene. It was as if the operation had intended to throw up their arms in surrender, all boxed up with fingerprints and DNA samples literally everywhere. Car keys, birth certificates, labeled contraband, two soiled Honda Accords…. It was a two-part suicide note, with no cadavers to bring to the morgue.
- * * * * *
They ran in the fashion of traumatized children and adult lunatics. Two largely sedentary bodies were made suddenly mobile, and suddenly spry. The beating of sneakered feet and the throbbing of misused cardiovascular systems filled their ears as Clive and Jessup fled the scene.
When the sirens filled the sunburst evening air, Clive and Jessup flew. They left everything: car keys, registered vehicles, flat-brimmed hats, entirely black wardrobes, 18650 rechargeable batteries, e-juice, mods, cotton, kanthal, ceramics, building kits, wallets, phones, and risqué posters of vaping women. They knew what the scream of VPC sirens meant, and they abandoned any life they may have had before.
The city of Bellingham morphed from loosely urban to no-man’s-land in a matter of miles. Age-old trees lined the highways, and tucking into wild anonymity was a half-hour scramble for the two fugitives. The boys crept like bizarre woodland sprites of a stoner’s fairytale, adorned in filthy bathrobes that accumulated burrs and pine needles as if it were their function.
The woodland musk was huffed by the boys as they descended into the darkening wood. Pine, hemlock, alder, spruce, and the stray rash of nettles bashed their flailing limbs as the crystalline and kaleidoscopic burlesque of sunset faded. Its last light shivered unto oblivion like the ultimate ragged exhalations of an asthmatic.
They came upon a skeletal wood at the mountain’s steepening. The blackened spines of timber ached upward like middle fingers defying their imminent collapse. Among the cross-hatch of windfalls and charred pines, Jessup spied a lone mongrel. A black pit bull, whose side was lined horrifically with xylophone ribs that seized with ragged breath and desolate hunger, and whose face portrayed the vacant-eyed horror and oblivious droolings of a lobotomy patient, limped scarcely and gnawed at chips of charcoal in the theatrical hellscape of scorched forest.
“You hungry, Clive?” said Jessup.
“Starvin’, man,” said Clive.
Jessup paused and gnawed a blade of grass. “I mean… We’re roughing it now. Cast out of civilization.” He spat green schmutz about the soot. “We’ve sort of…. gone to the dogs, y’know?”
Clive stood silent. “One minute, you run a vape shop. The next, you’re selling contraband out of the trunk of your car.” Clive raised an eyebrow. “Soon, you find yourself grappling with the moral ramifications of eating a damn dog.”
“Well, I was gonna suggest just taking one leg,” said Jessup.
“What the hell did you just say to me?” said Clive.
“You see three-legged dogs all the time! A lot of them live lives of leisure. My aunt had one,” Jessup resumed munching the grass. “And no one asked what happened to the leg.”
Clive stood silent, yet again.
“I mean, it’s, like, the perfect crime!” said Jessup.
“Alright, I’m gonna give you a hard no on this one. You mean to tell me that you intend on catching a wild dog, sawing one of its legs off, eating said leg, and letting it run free?”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to killing it. That dog looks ready to be put out of its misery. But maybe we could eat one leg at first, and then we keep it around for when we get hungry again.”
“Jesus Christ, Jessup,” said Clive. “Is this like the cartoon, where Donald Duck gets so hungry, everyone on the lifeboat starts looking like a steak?!”
Jessup spat. “I’m saying we need a plan of some sort. We could just go deeper and deeper into the woods until we eat some poison potato plant, like that one dude. Or, we could set up camp, and plot our comeback sale.”
Clive made a face usually reserved for folk that had recently vomited on him. “Comeback sale?” He approached Jessup. “Like a coupon code? Massive blowout?! I’ve got news for you, Jessup. We’re fugitives now. Our faces are blasted all over the ten o’clock news, all of our shit has been seizured, we have no cars, no money, no IDs, no raw materials with which to manufacture e-juice, and the first time we’re dumb enough to show our faces in the city, we’ll be gunned down by the god damn Gestapo!” Clive grabbed Jessup by his shirt. “Any more great ideas?”
Jessup thought for a while, chewing his cud. “We don’t have to eat the whole dog.” He said, finally. “One leg might be the best option we’ve got.”
Clive reclined among the barren black. “Jessup, you’re about as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.” He whistled at the mongrel. “And about half as useful.”
Curious, the animal pawed toward the robed outcasts. Its tail did wag.