Story Go Round 10/19/2001, round 2, #2


He thought it was an optical illusion, so he adjusted his glasses. By the 2nd paragraph of his speech, there was no mistaking that the pimples of the guy with the headphones on the end of the bottom bleacher were spreading. Clara Rumbucker had always had lillywhite, creamy smooth skin, and she had 3 since the beginning of the speech.

He took a genuine pause after the 3rd point and saw among his classmates, above the usual squirming on the benches, an unmistakeable up-down motion of the arms beginning scratching. It felt strange. Usually he took faux pauses, for medical reasons, but after talking with his friends the previous night, he felt it was time to take a chance. The genuine pause took a lot more effort, but it felt, well, comforting. But those pimples, they had to be faux too. After all 2003 was now officially the Year to End all Acne. At the closing of 2002 a vaccine had been discovered for black heads and boils were gone by autumn. There was a lot of bluster in the press, a new national holiday, and some campaign platforms built around the acne issue. A cure was in sight. Now all that could change with this fresh wave. Who would admit it, though, who would talk? Could high-schoolers be that honest? Already a few who had it worst were slinking off to the school bathrooms and their own private pimple popping hell. Adults were needed, needed badly, needed like they'd never been needed before, but there were none to be found. They, too, were scrabbling desperately at their faces, drooling in disbelief, hoping rather than believing that they were imagining it all. It was time for another genuine pause.

Five minutes later when he opened his eyes, things weren't any better, if anything they were worse. Now that Ultrum was only being sold on the black market there was no hope. He breathed deep, surveyed his afflicted peers. The emergency exits closed, somewhere someone gasped. A shadow passed over his vision, someone made as if to help him. the room was getting darker. Only then did he realize the pimples were growing on his face, too, growing, growing, with none to stop them. Fattening, they had the effect of air bags in a car crash sewing shut his vision on the world he loved, forever.

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange