I knew a girl once that became hooked on heroin. Problem was that she couldn’t bear to inject herself. So she got her boyfriend to do it. So when the dragon needed chasing, there was this faithful smackhead ready to pump her full of drugs. I can now relate somehow to this situation, but only because someone was kind enough to pay my way into this thing he is in as well. I mean heroin is terrible and even knowing someone who is on it is devastating. You can’t do anything, except watch them get thinner and thinner until they become a methadone-addled puppet, with a one-track mind.
However, this is the 21st Century, and some people have come to realise that they don’t need to snort a powder, or inject some base into their veins. They don’t even need to smoke from an old modified coke bottle or huff from a plastic bag. Those people, the same that claim they are pure, are addicted to the adrenaline running through their veins. Their source, their pusher is within their own bodies. And a hit is never far from home. A workout at the gym, the sweat- and blood-stained floor of the boxing ring, the click of a mouse button, and in some lonely fringe, the power button of a vacuum cleaner.
In some darkened Internet café, or in basements and bedrooms of the terminally lonely, there are thousands, millions of people who reach out into virtual worlds. Ersatz Human Contact through a screen. Just type the address and you’re there. They spend their days, playing games, running from one end to another of fantasy worlds. They create and build and collaborate. They kill and steal and screw each other. They work and play and die, again and again in this place. They live their lives elsewhere. But if they could be anywhere, would they choose to be there?
Like the others above them, they will find everything around them perishing. The purist addictions will demand attention. They have a life of their own. It’s a thing that needs to feed. You may not see track marks trailing up your friends’ limbs, or the blood running from their noses. But you might see their shakes, those terrible little delirium tremens. Then they’ll be gone. They will drop whatever they are doing and fix themselves up. And then you’ll see the difference. The addictions of this terrible new age are invisible Not until you’re actually there in the grip of chasing the new kind of dragon made of LCD tones and false futuristic marvel, do you see your life changed. For better or worse, it’s up to you.
But one fine day, you will wake in that filthy hovel you once called your castle. You’ll walk among the debris of rotting clothes and furniture. Everything is unfamiliar. You’ve crash-landed onto the alien landscape that is now your life. Welcome back. Because this is where you belong. Your stupid mistakes, your decision or not, have brought to this point in space and time. As you trip over empty cardboard boxes that may have once contained food, consider how many rodents and insect have fucked each other in them. Take a long look at the soda bottles filled with sour-looking yellow liquid, knowing that you never remember buying that much Passito. Look around at the place where once kept a nesting instinct at the empty places your once had furniture, now trashed or sold while in the thrall of your habit. You’ll go into the bathroom and find it hijacked by Lovecraftian horrors. Slime and grime and creeping things that have made it worse than any Scottish public toilet. You’ll wipe the mirror only to see human wreckage. And like some burnout modern-day Ozymandias and look upon your ruinous work and despair. Take in a deep breath. Hold it. Your addiction has left that stench. That is the smell of “you’re lucky to be alive”.
Now’s a good time to quit.