I can feel the walls closing in.
It feels like everyone else is out there doing it, right now. Why can’t I? Everywhere I turn it feels like I’m confronted with the same thing; billboards, television, even newspapers.
On my drive back from work today I saw three pictures of it. It’s infuriating; it’s an itch that can’t be scratched, not allowed to be. I logon to Facebook to see what everyone else is doing in this difficult time, and they’re doing it too. The Forbidden Thing. Maybe I should stay away from social media for a while. Maybe I need new friends.
It’s been less than 24 hours since The Incident. I knew it was coming and I’d tried to prepare, I really had, but I didn’t expect this. How could I? I knew it would be surreal and wonderful and terrible but how could I have known how much I would need this thing that I can’t have?
I decide to go out for a jog. It’s at this point I realise I’m losing my grip on reality; I’m about as fit as a three-legged mule with twins on the way and I’m exhausted by the time I reach my own driveway. Still, I have to do something. I resign myself to a not-so-brisk walk.
Every person I pass smiles at me. Like this is any other day, like it’s just Wednesday in the springtime and everything is awesome. Stupid. Ignorant. But I wish I could be them. I hear children laughing, and can’t help feeling like they too are doing That Which Is Forbidden. It’s absurd. It’s not for children. It’s poor parenting. But I’m jealous.
I can’t be alone with my thoughts anymore; I need to be around people. I decide to pay my friend a surprise visit; he’s probably having a hard time as well.
As I go up to knock I hear voices, laughing. It’s him and… what sounds like my other good friend. I wonder what they’re doing, why they didn’t call me. I feel left out. I knock.
He opens the door laughing, but his smile vanishes when he sees me. His face turns white. His eyes widen. I look past to see my friend on the couch; he looks at me in horror. I look past them at the TV. At The Forbidden Thing. My jaw drops. I look at my friend; hurt, betrayed.
“Chris, wait, I can explai-“ I pull the door closed in his face. I don’t want to hear it. He calls out after me, but I keep walking. I’ve never felt so alone in this world as I do in this moment.
I go home and sit in front of my computer, dazed. I know there are others like me, there have to be. I do what every desperate man does when all other options have been exhausted; I turn to the internet.
In the dark reaches of the web I find a support group meeting for people like me. Secret. Hidden away. Hiding out of shame.
I arrive fifteen minutes early, at quarter to eight. I park my car a couple of blocks away, and make my way down a dimly lit alley. I come across a faded blue metal door. I knock. A small panel slides open, revealing a set of sunken, hollow eyes.
“F.U.R.S.,” I respond, enunciating each letter clearly.
The door unlocks with a clank and swings open. I walk inside and take my place among the rows of cheap folding chairs. Others shuffle in after me, with vacant stares and slack jaws. At 8pm sharp, the meeting begins.
“Who… who would like to go first?” a man says quietly into a microphone at the front. He looks worse than I do. Without thinking, I stand up.
I’m not sure why I chose to do that. Perhaps it’s because I’m the protagonist in this story.
I shamble up to the front, wrestling with my emotions. I lean down into the microphone, looking at the sea of upturned, empty faces.
I notice a man in the front row with a tear tracing slowly down his cheek, cradling the Forbidden Thing. An Xbox 360 copy of Grand Theft Auto V. He must’ve waited in line to get it, yet I know it’s as worthless to him as it is to me; like a recovering smoker sucking a lollipop. I take a deep breath, blinking back tears.
“Hi. I’m Chris Kemp, and I’m a PC player.”