The first time Dr. Abel Kane ever heard mention of it was at his grandson’s funeral. While admittedly grown old somehow, and out of the loop, Abel Kane did try to stay in tune with the world, and with it’s goings-on. Abel scrolled through the trending internet news sites while drinking his morning coffee, and he fell asleep at night with the Channel Five News, so that he was not completely out of touch. His work at the clinic required long, stressful hours. There was simply not much time to worry about the world outside of his own little bubble. It is always so easy for things to squeeze by a busy man.
But this “Karma” thing? What was this? A drug that destroyed a bright young man’s mind to where he would cheerfully throw himself from a city roof-top while his friends and family watched? That was the frightening part. The boy had appeared happy when he took the running start, hopped lightly onto the low, brick wall, and dove head first from ten stories up. And this at his own high school graduation party? Dr. Kane knew drugs. He had spent the past forty-some years making and testing drugs. He knew what they did to the brain, sucking away the oxygen it feeds on until it is choked dry. He knew what the drugs did to the body, hardening and weakening the heart, the liver, the kidneys, and the arteries that carried them nutrients. But the drugs were also necessary, weren’t they? Surely, when used properly, the drugs were enriching more lives than they were destroying? At least, the drugs created at “Life-Line”, the lab where he worked, did. The drugs Dr. Abel Kane made were intended to aid in healthy living, not to destroy the life. But they could do that too, couldn’t they? And what about these other drugs? These bad drugs? Who was it out there making them?
A synthetic drug. A drug made from chemicals. Not so uncommon, but the drugs were made from poisons, poisons issued in small enough doses so as not to kill the entire body. Poisons that target the cells that a doctor wishes to kill. Poisons acting as tiny assassins on a “Fantastic Voyage” to kill the malignancies and parasites that grow in the animal, and to save a body from it’s own genetic mis-steps. Of course, they also killed collaterally, destroying unintended cells, and permitting us the somewhat humorously long list of disclaimers at the end of the television commercials. “Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms...” Those disclaimers were really only funny until they became personal.
As good as Dr. Kane knew his work to be, as humane, and holistic as the drugs he made could be, should be, there were always those who would mutate the good to suit their own “Wacko” needs. That was Dr. Kane’s word for those who use drugs recreationally, “Wacko”. What kind of a Wacko would willingly poison themselves for a few hours of entertainment, inserting God knows what, God knows how, into their nostrils or veins for a “high”? Really!
And his own grandson, Justin?
Straight “A” Justin!
Accepted by MIT, Justin?
How does someone like that, a good kid, get mixed up in all of this? It angered Dr. Kane so that he wished he was the kind of man to seek out and kill those who made it happen, the drug dealers, and the manufacturers of the “bad” drugs, whomever they were. But he was not that man. All the same, there must be something he might do? Some way he might make a difference?
“Karma”. Something called “Karma” had killed Justin. But Karma did not kill Justin alone, it had destroyed the most important parts of Dr. Kane’s own, happy family. This should be rectified! Melissa was distraught, lost, so lost that she might never find herself again. She was taking her own “meds” now, and so many people never stopped taking the pills these days once they began.
Melissa was the apple of Abel Kane’s eye. When he looked at her, he still saw the curling pig-tails, the bright eyes, and the freckled nose of thirty-five years ago, but in the past two weeks that happy girl-child had slipped away. Now there was a hurt inside those eyes that manifested itself over the entirety of her still youthful face, drawing the skin tight around the eyes themselves, and around the corners of her mouth. There was a plea in those eyes, a plea for what cannot be, for what will never again be. A mother’s plea for her child.
Someone should pay. Abel Kane swore it on his very being. Somehow, someway, someone should pay for the pain inflicted on “his” little girl, and on her child. But how? What could an old man do?
k a r m a.
Dr. Kane carefully typed the letters into the search bar. He tapped enter before choosing the “Wikepedia” definition. It was, apparently, not an overly complicated drug. Strong Beta-blockers to slow the heart rate, mixed with hallucinogenics and Nootropics to keep the mind active. The Wacko sleeps for two to four hours and awakens crazy, was how the definition of the effects read to him on the screen. Abel Kane clicked on the link to a story, the story of a young man who had survived the drug. The boy spoke of being in Heaven, and of seeing God, and of his unflinching desire to get out of the facility he was confined in so that he could taste Karma again, “to return,” he had stated, “to find God again.” Dr. Kane tapped the return key. “Stupid kid. Saying shit like that will not get you out of any facility on this Earth! Had the damned kids just gone crazy these days?”
He was on his fourth story, tapping on the links in the order they were listed. The stories were all similar. The kids taking this Karma were either killing themselves, or they were being locked up in padded cells. The really strange part was, they were happy. Insanely happy. Happy to die? Abel was reading about a kid who had used a gun to blast his life away when a crazy little dream of an idea popped into his head. It was a little idea at the start, a tiny, little, miniscule idea. The idea floated up to him, like in a speech bubble from a cartoon strip. “Try it”, it said. Dr. Kane saw the words in their bubble, rather than hearing them spoken. He felt a shiver. What would happen to him if he did try it? Would he go crazy too? Certainly not! He was a strong man. He had life experience. Dr. Abel Kane was not a young, impressionable kid. He was educated, so he could deduce what was happening as it happened. And he was atheist, so he would not be cowed by any halleucinogenic visions.
But still the shiver? Every kid who survived the drug spoke of seeing God.
“Try it”. Dr. Abel Kane’s hands grew cold on the keyboard. From what place inside him did the words come? Why would he even think to try it?
How could he ever know what it was that threw Justin off of that roof if he did not try it? He would try it. He should try it. And then he could tell the world what was happening to these children.
It came from the police station, not from the streets. Well, originally it came from the streets, but it was Judge Trimble’s court order that acquired it for “Life-Line Labs”. It looked like poluted clay in the plastic tube with its taped down top, its contents identified by a number scrawled in red ink across its lid. It looked nasty, “yucky”, like sulferous chalk clumps, brownish-yellow. It looked like the poison that it was.
Dr. Kane checked his watch. It was 3:15 pm. The lab employees would begin clearing out at 4:00. Abel would wait until 5:00 to do the deed. That was how he thought of injecting the street drug into his veins... as “doing the deed”.
It was a lab. He had the tools. He removed the label, and the vial’s plastic lid. He poured the moist powder into a mortar, the better to pound it smooth. He lit the burner early, simply because he had always loved the sound and smell of a Bunsen burner, the gaseous, intelligent smell of it. He then poured the churned powder into an Erienmeyer flask, which would do nicely for the cooking as long as he did not let it get too hot.
Soon the powder was liquid brown, like a Guinness stout, and with the same frothy head. He removed the flask from the burner to cool. His teeth pulled the medical tourniquet tight on his arm. Immediately a blue vein popped out at the ready. Abel’s heart went slow and steady, thumping his chest, and his banded arm, and his ears like the metronome on a grand-father’s clock. He supposed that he was ready. He stuck the needle deep into the chemical broth, pulling the plunger back, watching as it sucked the Karma in. When the liquid filled the syringe he drew a deep breath and pushed the air in the syringe out, along with that in his lungs. He told himself that there was no need to fear, but his breathing was labored all the same. This was only science, he told himself, but his hands shook. He was a scientist, and a doctor, and was about to be a guinea pig, but this was how he could understand. And this would allow him to teach. He hopped up onto the lab table and waved to the security camera. The Board of Directors would get a kick out of that later, if something bad were to happen.
The needle pinched sliding into the vein. Dr. Kane pushed the plunger in. He pulled off the tourniquet and laid back on the table. Nothing yet, he told himself, but there was something, wasn’t there? A cold tingle inside. He did what he always did when nervous, or bored... he began to recite. He chose the longest poem he knew, hoping to get all the way through:
“Once upon a midnight dreary
while I pondered, weak and weary...”
And then the end began.
At first there was only sleep. Deep sleep. The deepest of sleeps. His heart rate slowed, and slowed, until his body, for all intents or purpose, lived no more. He saw the body there on the table. His body. It was dead. He was dead. He watched it as he drifted away. He watched it get smaller, and smaller. He watched it not because he cared what happened to it, but because he did not want to turn. He did not want to see what was behind him.
And then he did turn. Slowly. Something called to him, something from the darkness. Deep inside the darkness, and a pinpoint of light. He moved toward the pinpoint, but he did not walk. There were no feet on no ground. There were no arms to swing, there was no voice to sing, there was nothing. A vacuum. He could still be analytical! It was a vacuum. He clung to that, clung desperately because he had thought of it. He had thought it!
“I think, therefore I am.”
Had there been a mouth, it would have smiled. He had remembered Nietsche. He could still remember!
The light was closer. But it was no longer light. It was colors, now. Prismatic and bold colors. Rainbow colors wrapping around him, embracing him, touching every part of whatever it was that was him. Warm and wet were the colors, like lotion caressing, squeezing, like vaginal walls pulling. Like wet, warm vaginal walls massaging, and squeezing him inside to a place that he did not even know that he could not have resisted.
Had he a mouth it would have kissed. Had he a dream, the dream would be this.
And then it was done. And then he was there. The ears were music. The eyes were light. The mind was wonder. The body was gone. There was nothing else that mattered.
Abel Kane had come full circle, born of the Mother, taught to suffer, and returned to the Father.
Had he a mouth, it would have screamed!
Had he a dream?
It was the heart that brought him back. The damned, fool’s heart. The heart that knows not what it wants, and so reaches for everything that looks like a sugary-tit. The battered, broken heart. The heart that beats not in glorious Heaven. The pitiful heart, the lost heart. The heart that aches, and wishes, hungers and waits. The foolish heart that beats when it could stop. When it should stop. It was the heart that brought him back. The damned, fool’s heart.
Dr. Abel Kane was an intelligent man. He knew enough to know that he now knew nothing, had always known nothing. He also knew enough to know that he now knew all. Yes, Dr. Abel Kane was an intelligent man. He would take what was left of his Karma and he would give it to Melissa. It was the last and best thing he could give to her. She would find happiness in it, as he had.
Abel Kane had finally found happiness. Abel Kane had finally found God. But that happiness could only be had when with that God in his Heaven. Every moment away was a moment wasted... and so Abel Kane must go. He would give his Karma to Melissa, and then he too would gleefully jump from that city roof-top, and into the heart of God.