“This Is Your Special Day,” by Zach Lisabeth

Oct 4th, 2017 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Congratulations! You finally made it. I know the appeals process can be a nightmare—all those ups and downs. Will they, won’t they, will they, won’t they. Turns out: they won’t. Your patience is appreciated. No more waiting, now. Good things are coming to you. We’ve made a lot of changes around here lately, and I think you’re going to like what we’ve done with the place.

There’s really no need to mince words at this point. You’ve done some nasty stuff. I mean—on paper you’re a real piece of work. You’ve had some time to think about it, I gather. Well I’m here to tell you that none of that matters anymore. We just want you to be comfortable.

Most of the recent improvements in our processes come with some attendant paperwork. I’m sure you won’t mind filling out a couple of forms. We’ve printed all the information on scented, laid finish paper. Our aromatherapy consultants recommended a proprietary blend of chamomile, bergamot and clary sage. Calms the nerves. We’re calling it “Gallows Humor.” They’re going to carry it in stores. Isn’t that great?

Just print your name here and here and initial at the bottom of each page.  Once you agree to our terms there are a number of voluntary programs you might want to enroll in. I should point out that I’ll be with you right through until the end, but I won’t be the only one. The more the merrier—that’s what I always say. Right here on line 3 you can select your preferred morale companion. Boggles the Clown is by far the most popular option, but some people are afraid of clowns so we also offer a folk musician named Chaim and Dangerous Larry the Master Magician. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but Dangerous Larry is my personal favorite. He knows some card tricks that will blow your mind, and the handkerchiefs up his sleeve stretch out to next week.

On line 4 you can select a comfort animal to accompany you in the room. Snuggles the beagle has a very settling disposition. He’ll let you pet him right up until you can’t. If you’re not a dog person, I can dump a basket of kittens on your chest while you’re lying on the table. Hard to be sad with a basket of kittens on your chest. You’re not allergic, are you?

Lines 5 through 9 detail a couple of aesthetic options. We pride ourselves on customizability. As far as the room is concerned, you can choose the color scheme, floral arrangement and theme. There are a couple standard themes outlined in the literature with examples attached in addendum 1. Last month we ran a winter wonderland production that would have really knocked your socks off. Animatronic snowmen, plastic icicles, a snow machine—the whole shebang.

This is Cindy. She does the makeup. Nothing too fancy for a big strong guy like yourself. Unless you want fancy? To each his own. I’m not here to judge. That part’s over. Solitary can be tough on the complexion. She’s just going to smooth out those cheeks and brighten things up around the eyes. Looking good means feeling good and we want you feeling your best.

To that end, let’s get you out of that jumpsuit. Feel the fur on this robe. Isn’t that glorious? None of that poly-cotton blend today, no sir. This is 100% juvenile chinchilla. Look at the way it shimmers in the light. The interior is lined with vibrating beads aligned with your pressure points. We hired a Hindu guru to assist with the design. When you lie down, the frequency of the vibration is supposed to open your vital chakras. The collar is set with tiny Bose speakers so we can pipe in a recording of Maya Angelou reading poetry over light string music.

Let’s go over some of the logistics, shall we? Once we step out of this cell you’re going to walk down the Yellow Brick Road and into the receiving room. Walk is just a figure of speech, of course. We had a moving walkway installed so that you wouldn’t have to strain yourself. Physically walking is so pedestrian. See what I did there? While you’re passing through the hallway, watch the screens. A handful of southern beauty queens have pre-taped compliments about your physical appearance and sexual virility. All volunteers. It’s good to give back. We’re going to play them all in Dolby Digital Surround and their images will be broadcast in HD-3D.

When you arrive in the receiving room you’ll be directed to a table lined with a warming foam that simulates the experience of returning to the womb (patent pending). There’s a nice symmetry in that. We like to think we’re closing the circle. If you’re afraid of needles, you don’t have to worry. Intravenous is a dirty word around here. We’ve tossed out all those medieval devices and replaced them with epidermal osmosis pads that transmit the drugs directly through the skin. One of those TV doctors with a million-watt smile will be standing by to attach the pads and monitor your vitals. His busty nurses have clear instructions to apply sensual acupressure techniques throughout the whole process—knead away all that undue stress. You can pick which ones you like. Their headshots are attached in addendum 2.

The first pad delivers a high-grade muscle relaxant that comes with a nice euphoric finish. No nausea or any unpleasant side effects. The second pad delivers our Beatific Cocktail™. That’s the special sauce. As long as you promise not to tell, I’ll let you in on the ingredients. It’s mostly sodium thiopental, tempered with some garden variety Quaaludes and a few different experimental psychedelics. We’re still playing with the formula, so results may vary. At the very least you can expect to catch a glimpse of the Face of God. Best-case scenario: you’ll get to walk right up to him and kick him in the teeth.

The third pad is pure Oxycodone. Nothing fancy about it. Weird thing is: it has a tendency to make the blood rush to your genitals. Erection beats paralytic, just like paper beats rock. At this point you’ll probably ejaculate. Most people ejaculate. If you want, I can make sure it happens for you. Just check box 15B. Whether or not you’ll actually appreciate the release is up for debate, but it’s something to look forward to, at least.

Then, and only then—when you’re settled back in your mother’s womb awash in kittens and your own drying seed, with the ample racks of the nurses hanging inches from your chin, with the sweet cadences of Maya Angelou’s voice pumping out of your robe and dancing on the hide of your eardrums—only then, will Doctor Hollywood smile and gently attach the last pad.

Would you mind taking these pills? It’s nothing nefarious. They alter the chemistry of your large intestine so that when your bowels release it smells like bakery fresh pumpernickel rolls.

Let me give you a hand. Upsidaisy. Shake out those limbs. We’re going to escort you out of this dingy cell now and down the Yellow Brick Road. Guest of Honor walking! That’s a little joke we have. Humor’s important. We wouldn’t want things to get too heavy.

A team of neurologists designed the fluorescent lighting in the hallway to blink in a pattern that stimulates dopamine production in your brain. It’s not uncommon to experience vivid memory recall. Think of it as a chance to relive the best moments of a largely misled life. Don’t be afraid to lose yourself.

That’s what I like to see.

Right about now you’re probably experiencing that first kiss—that first consensual kiss. The one you practically stole from your best friend’s sister behind the quik-e-mart that summer when you were thirteen. She tasted like honey and cardamom. You tasted like menthol cigarettes. She made a face, but you knew she didn’t mind. Not really. Now you’re running with your older brother on the boardwalk near Rockaway Beach. He stole your lick-a-made candy and he won’t give it back. You don’t really care about the candy. You chase him because he is everything to you. You want to be him, and you could be if only your tiny legs would just catch up. You’re sitting on the stoop on your grandfather’s knee drinking up the last soupy droplets from the basin of your push-pop. Daddy was supposed to be home already, but you don’t mind because granddad’s salt-and-pepper beard feels scratchy against your head and his whiskey voice never runs out of stories to tell. You watch the sun drain down over the city skyline and you don’t worry what comes next because granddad always lets you stay up late.

What was your relationship with your mom like? I bet it was good at some point. You can probably smell her now. Every boy’s a mama’s boy at heart.

We’re almost home.

Get a load of that table. Doesn’t it look cozy? We had the dimensions adjusted to fit your exact proportions. Did you know your left arm is just a few inches shorter than your right? It’s not uncommon. Please. Lie down. Let the nurses go about their work. Strip club rules. They can touch you, but you can’t touch them—mostly because I’m going to be tightening the straps around your forehead, wrists and ankles soon. We stuffed the restraints with cotton and lined the outsides with satin bands to prevent any potential chafing. I hope you appreciate all the attention to detail.

Doctor Hollywood’s chomping at the bit to set the first pad. Would you get a load of that grin? Don’t look directly at it or you might go blind. There we are. Doesn’t that feel nice? The Beatific Cocktail™ is really something else—and it’s coming right up. Give it a second to saturate your cells and percolate down through all the dendrites in your spine. Your eyes are so dilated I could practically go swimming in them. Take one last look at your room.

Ah-ah—don’t fight it. Your body’s just flexing with the pharmaceutical power coursing up and down your veins. Halos strangle the lights and all the sounds start to squirm together like earthworms mating in a slippery ball. A chain of colored handkerchiefs recedes into the muddy walls and even the nipples on your nurses, like the protests on your tongue, grow dull and listless in the fog. There is power in revelation and now you know the You that is eternal rises from your nostrils, cuticles and pores only to split in half and melt.

It’s almost time. You look great. I know it’s getting harder to hear me, but see if you can’t read my lips. If you were satisfied with our service, blink twice—

Atta boy.

Smile for the cameras.


Zach Lisabeth is an Ames, Iowa-based writer and Weirdo. He was born on Long Island and took a circuitous route to the prairie by way of Brooklyn, NY, Burlington, VT, Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA. He loathes the 10 freeway, astronaut ice cream, the Oxford comma, and cognitive dissonance. He is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop at UCSD and a current MFA candidate at Iowa State University where he teaches composition and rhetoric. His work has appeared in several publications including Liquid Imagination, Freeze Frame Fiction, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Gaia: Shadow & Breath vol. 2 (Pantheon Press), Burningword Literary Journal and the anthology RealLies (The Zharmae Publishing Press). You can follow his intermittent outbursts on Twitter @zachlisabeth or check in with him any time at www.zachlisabeth.com.

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