by Jack Peterson


By: Jack Peterson

"So, do you want to listen to some music?"

I ask my best friend T.J. he turns to me gives me I don't frickin care what look, mutters "whatever" and then returns his focus to the road. T.J. I hate it when he is like this, when he is scared that someone , he tries to hide it, but it doesn't work. The regulators changed him.

T.J. and I met in the woods. It was just a coincidence. We both were camping in the local state park. At that age I was 14. It was warm, humid and frightening summer night. I was sleeping in my sleeping bag when I heard leaves crunching, like something was running. It had to be at least 100 yards away, it sounded like a person running the crunching was only coming from two feet, it was definitely a person, I heard panting. So I look outside of my tent. It was a boy about my age maybe a year or two younger than me. He had a welt on his arm. So I ran out and tried stopped him, but he kept running, so I followed him around trying to figure out if he's running away form something that could get me and put a welt on my arm or something worse. The boy finally got exhausted and stopped, I invited him back to my tent to get some water and some food, surprisingly enough, he agreed. We talked a little bit and he opened up to me about how he was an accident and his parents would never let him forget it, his dad was a drunk, and his mom didn't have a backbone. So he decided to run away. He ran into me about 3 hours later. He asked me why, I was here. The only reason I was here was I was dared to. It was an initiation to get into a clique. We both sat around and talked got to know each other. We became friends. We both brightened each others mood. When I got home I told my parents I was sleeping over at T.J.'s house and When T.J. got home he told his parents he was sleeping over at my house, but they didn't care. For the next 4 years we he would sleep over at my house and we would relax, hang out and listen to music. Once we moved out of our houses we became roommates. So 16 years after we ran into each other in the woods, we are still best friends.

I grab his case of CDs, and start flipping through his pages. Looking for something to pass the time, I got enough of it. I always like looking through his CDs he has a fantastic taste in music. His collection consists of all genres mainstream and obscure. I'm flipping through the pages of his enormous collection of CDs that has to weigh at least 7 pounds, and I stumble upon AC/DC Back in Black.

I pull it out of its pocket; pop it in the CD player. Then, hells bells chimes out. Man, it brings me back. Back to the days where you didn't live forever, when you felt safe when you heard a bell, a ambulance. Now in 2023 we all live forever.

You would think that would be great wouldn't you? So did the rest of the world.

Well, not so much. Let me tell you the story. It was a beautiful warm day in the spring of 2011 when Demetrius McCloud found the ultimate vaccine. Well, before I explain the vaccine, let me give you some background on Demetrius.

He was named Demetrius because his father was a brilliant psychologist. So when he got to college he knew how the brain functions like the back of his hand. When he went to collage at Stanford, he studied medicine and researched deeper into how the brain works. After he got his PhD and preformed his independent studies. He found several discoveries, two of which were crucial to the finding of the vaccine, he first found, when humans are in situations where there life is in threat, they get super human qualities. Second, the human body can boost its immune system when needed. He took that info and found a way to convince the brain that it always needs a boosted immune system so it stocks up and strengthens the body and when it is in life threatening situations it gets even stronger and more immune. So nobody could die" but the vaccine only did it subconsciously so you could tell when you were starving, when you were in pain, when you wanted to die. That was the problem, since no one died, ever, and the increasing population wouldn't stop increasing, the food ran scarcely low, there weren't enough homes for people to live in, there weren't enough jobs, and there was crime all over the streets. There was world wide chaos. The government wasn't expecting it. The government had no idea what to do. So they gathered all of the ambulance drivers. They were doing basically nothing, since nobody was in a life threatening emergency. So they gave them the proper training and every day they were given a quota and they had to fill it. They are "regulators" the governments' name for public assassins. They go around murdering people to "regulate". It is terrifying to hear the sirens of an ambulance racing down the street with snow plows or giant spikes attached to the front of an ambulance, ripping their victims in half or should I say "Regulating" the community. With bloodcurdling events like those you look for ways to remember the old times.

Remembering the old times, that's what T.J. and I are trying to do. We decided to get away from the concentrated population of the regulators in the city streets and get on a rural road and find a place to camp, just like old times.

"MAN!" T.J. yells

"What!?" I yell back.

"REGULATOR!" Then, abruptly punches the CD player and it turns off.

"MAN! This sucks." The flashing siren is barely noticeable to my eyes but the sirens are a sure sign that it's a regulator.

"Now shut up" T.J. pulls over into the woods and kills the engine.

wwhhEEEOOOO WWHHEEEeoooo the regulator speeds past us.

"No more songs. No more"" he yells "we need your acute hearing" if it wasn't for my sharp vision, you and I" would be" regulated." T.J. states

(Somehow by chance I have excellent hearing and he has excellent vision. furthermore because we are always together we can avoid the regulators pretty easily.)

"Fine, what ever" it's not like the drive was to remember the good times." I say sarcastically

He gives me a look of disgust. We get out of the car, stretch, and switch seats so now I'm driving. Finally, since he's not driving, he can start to relax and have a few drinks, which should loosen him up. 3 cans later; He turns to me then looks at his empty can, smashes it on his head, and throws it on the floor. There was a moment of silence. Then, he grabs his forehead and yells

"Ouch, that frickin hurts!"

I start laughing.

So does he, but he is still rubbing his head

We talk a little he drinks a lot and then, I could start to see him becoming slowly more relaxed like some stress has been taken off of his shoulder. His laugh seemed more relaxed.

After T.J.' s 9th drink he fell asleep. I started to daze off, then I hit a bump in the road shook the car and the CD player turned on, back in black was playing again. I had no objections so I let it play".

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