Illustration by Justine Bacareza
Forty-five minutes after the brew…
He is a writer, trying to beat his deadline.
With the empty manuscript before him, he can be anywhere. He can be anyone.
The brew opened his mind, eyes widening in the many possibilities — the many realities he can touch. His heart pumps in anticipation as to who he can be next. He would be omnipotent, omnipresent.
In his excitement, he raises his hand, and reached for the imaginary clouds above him. He can be anyone. He is anyone.
An hour and thirty minutes after the brew…
He is a child, a child who just ate meat.
This is not the meat of beasts; they all died quite a long time ago. This is the meat of the elderly. Just moments ago, he accompanied his grandma to a health center, and just moments ago, he learned that health center is a butcher shop.
He eyes his mom. She does not know anything, yet is her ignorance bliss? By the mercy of the heavens, she could be eating the flesh of her kin.
He eyes his plate. Deep-fried human meat. Salty. Savory. He’s enjoying this. Is it a part of his life now? The knowledge that he is, and will remain, a cannibal?
Or will this tone be too dire for the readers to take in?
Two hours and fifteen minutes after the brew…
He is an American journalist, seated uncomfortably in a jeep.
The hair of the woman beside him — still reeking of sweat, of course, it’s always a frocking package — is blowing with the wind, to his frocking face of all places. What the frock, dude. This bench probably hasn’t taken a frocking bath for three days.
Then this other woman in front of him just won’t shut the frock up — like that bench Leila the Driver Lover or something, or that new President Rody “Your-Mom’s-a-Slush” Duterte.
This country’s nothing but a ship-hole of misfortune. This country’s— Wait, where’s his phone? Frock it, it was his sixth phone — SIXTH. STOLEN. PHONE.
Or will the narrator of this tale be too coarse for comfort?
Three hours after the brew…
He is the first man, stirred awake from his sleep.
He sets his gaze upon the rising sun — the symbol of his hope. It is his hope to make right his mistakes, which spelt the death of God, the death of the entire human race before him.
He takes the first step of man in this new earth, wondering when the Archangel Michael and the Fallen Lucifer shall take his rib and create for him a companion. He shall call her Eve.
This new world is his — a new Eden. He is the progenitor, the new first cause of history.
Or will this plot seem too blasphemous despite his intentions?
Three hours and forty-five minutes after the brew…
He is a vigilante, who basks in the love of the masses.
He slowly makes his way out of the little boy’s house. He turns his head to the boy one last time, and he — The Owl — lifts up his mask.
“I will wait for you, child,” he says. “Remember my kiss. You shall avenge your father, and we will write the best story of injustice and vengeance together.”
The child’s sobs turn to screams, yet he — The Owl — is too much in awe of the moonlight bathing his face to care. He smiles wide, closes his eyes and mumbles, “Tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down.” The Owl walks away.
Or will the message of the story be judged according to biases?
Four hours and thirty minutes after the brew…
He is a gatherer, in an imaginary canyon from a dystopian future.
Unkind sol burcinerated herm limbs. The stinker of rubbage stronger now — stronger than common. He prayseek to Fiksar for herm townty, for Planter Lex’s shoul, for herm own shoul.
Yet amongst the metalwarks in the Smokey Canyon, he earhear the boomloud whizzering of two-wheels. He see them gangbike and just nonfar, herm townty.
He shoutscream. He shoutscream till herm throarynx surquitted. The sol burcinerated herm. Fiksar. Fiksar. Your aidhelp!
Or will this imaginary language be too foreign for readers?
Five hours and fifteen minutes after the brew…
He is a student, attempting to log in to ISMIS 2.0.
What is he trying to log in for, anyway? He knows what to expect — everything passed, of course. He has already made sure of that.
He grins as he remembers the last time he cheated. He hid his phone under his lap and searched for all the answers of the exam online. It was not as exhilarating as the times he cheated before, not as exhilarating when he still had some form of conscience.
In front of this computer screen, the thrill of the unknown is no more. And with it, sorrow. But with it, joy. There are no regrets left, only emptiness.
Or will the readers enjoy the little details too much to realize the story’s true message?
Six hours after the brew…
He is a writer, trying to beat his deadline.
Yet now that the effects of his brew are going away, thinking has become difficult. He grasps the now cold porcelain mug and peers at its contents.
Like what is left in his head.
Like what is written in his manuscript.
Like him without his brew.
He is nothing.