by Adam C. Richardson
Dan Packard’s Journal, November 12, 2029
I’ve been too busy to write for a while. Since the promotional tours through Europe and Africa have taken up so much of my time, I honestly forgot all about this little journal. I’ve spent the past two hours reading all my old entries. It’s been a wonderful journey, watching the changes in the world and knowing that I’ve been a part of that success.
I’m still glowing after my last encounter abroad, our stop in Israel to promote the drug. John Darby and a few of his staff members accompanied us. His executive Vice President, Gene Radcliffe was there. Gene’s a puzzling man, by the way. In the midst of all the positive energy that we witness every day, Gene manages to look gruff and businesslike. Perhaps it’s an act he puts on to show people we’re serious.
But the point of our visit to Israel was to appeal to their health minister to open distribution of Raptura. Israel is one of the hold-outs whose leaders insist that Raptura is nothing more than a mind-control drug.
I don’t understand how they could think that. Perhaps they’re simply committed to their own misery. Some of my former fans used to think that way. They didn’t want to be happy. It took free samples of Raptura to help them to see the light. We attempted a similar tactic with the Israeli Prime Minister and his health minister.
“I know it’s hard to believe,” I told the Prime Minister. “I know your interests are aligned most intently on national security, on conflicts with the Palestinians. You’re afraid you’ll lose your competitive edge if you allow a mood-enhancing agent to affect your judgment. What I’m here to tell you is that you won’t lose anything. You will only gain clarity. I think you’ll find—”
“I’m not interested,” the Prime Minister insisted. “I’ve been studying this so-called wonder drug, and the fact is, no matter what you call its effect, it changes people. I refuse to be changed.”
How Gene did it, I have no idea. The Israeli Prime Minister is possibly the most protected man on the planet. Somehow, Gene Radcliffe managed to dope the minister’s drink with Raptura. Within fifteen minutes, the tone of the whole meeting changed. The Prime Minister relaxed. He smiled. He said he’d accept our samples. His health minister was baffled.
Within a week, Raptura was approved for distribution in Israel. Next week, the peace talks with the Palestinian leader will resume for the first time in three years. Everyone is optimistic.
There are still a few hold-outs throughout the world. Leaders from Pakistan and Iran refuse to allow us into their countries, and in the case of Pakistan, tourists have been shot for bringing Raptura across the border. As I’ve said, some people just want to hold on to their pain.
Day Care and Preschool Employees Looking for Work
— The Salt Lake Tribute, March 3, 2032
If there was ever a time to be looking for a job, this would be it. With the economy booming, world markets opening up, and poverty now becoming a word found more in the history books than the headlines, it’s a good time to be out looking for a job.
That’s the task now for many employees of day cares and preschools across the nation. The demand for child care has been cut significantly since natality has been reduced by nearly 99 percent in the past five years. Carl Anderson of the Department of Labor says, “We saw a similar trend in the reduced need for obstetricians over the past few years. Now it’s carrying over to the need for early childhood development workers.”
But as we’ve seen, obstetricians were not out of work for long. With the economic upturn, physicians had the opportunity to change their focus. Many moved on to geriatric care and research, a specialty that is expected to be in increased demand over the coming years. Others left medicine altogether to pursue other challenges. “People just don’t get as sick as they did before Raptura came along,” said Gary Stanton, former obstetrician and current hobby store owner.
“Am I worried about the future?” said day care owner Sandra Daily. “Not at all. Our facility used to care for up to fifty children. Now we have only five. I’ve had to let most of my staff go, and they’ve had no trouble getting other jobs. A few of them now work in nursing homes. I may do the same.”
In this transforming economy, change is inevitable, but there’s no reason to fear. Fear, after all, is yet another term for the history books, rather than the headlines.
Dan Packard’s Journal, August 7, 2033
Just got back from China. I was there for two months, witnessing the transformation that’s taken place in that country. When I was there five years ago, the physicians and health ministers I met with were suspicious of Novaforte and our agenda for transformation. I was treated like an ambassador from a hostile nation, cold courtesy and high security.
Since that initial visit, their experts have reviewed our findings and performed their own independent tests. There is, of course, nothing wrong with Raptura. They began adoption of the drug very slowly, but, as it has in so many other nations, it caught on like wildfire. Now, when I visit China, I’m treated like a national hero. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that everyone is smiling — warm smiles full of promise.
Earlier today, after getting settled here in D.C., I went out and had lunch with Ryan Gavin from the old band. It’s so strange to see him again after all these years. It’s still very difficult for me to remember the old days. I wasn’t the same man then. There was so much pain and chaos, two concepts that don’t fit into my mind anymore.
What was even stranger was that Ryan doesn’t seem to have changed that much. Fourteen years later and he still has the same dreadlocks, the same leather jacket, and the same grim expression. You don’t see grim expressions very often anymore. We met at Carmine’s on Seventh Street, and Ryan was extremely impatient with the waiter. I was surprised by his demeanor. When the waiter left, I asked, “You’re not taking Raptura, are you?”
He laughed. That was the one time I heard him laugh, and it wasn’t pleasant. “Don’t let that get you down,” he said. “I’m in an overwhelming minority now. You’ve made joy junkies out of, what, 99 percent of the population?”
“I think it’s closer to 99.9 percent of the population,” I said and smiled. “In most nations, anyway. I’ll be going to Iran next month to spread the word there.”
Ryan shook his head. “Unbelievable. And this coming from the guy that brought us The Gutter Stomp and Demon Sorrow.”
“Nobody listens to that music anymore,” I said.
He stared at me for a while. I stared back. We got our food and he ate a few bites before he answered. “I listen to that stuff because it’s real. Pain is part of life.”
“It is,” he insisted. “You just don’t see it anymore.”
“I have no use for pain. Do you really think I was better off back in the dark days?”
“Not at the end,” he said. “In the end, you went too far the other way. But before that happened, Dan, you were a god. You saw life. You really saw it, and you helped us all to see it, too. Don’t you remember what it felt like when we were up there on stage, channeling that beautiful chaos through the speakers and holding everyone’s soul hostage? Back then, we had something. We had the truth.”
“Honestly, I can hardly remember those days. No, I don’t remember that feeling. But I know what I feel now. I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I feel joy over seeing people’s lives change for the better. Everyone in the world, except for you, is feeling better, performing better, than anyone ever has in the history of the world. That’s the new truth.”
We ate some more. Then Ryan said, “Not everyone.”
“Not everyone in the world is a joy junkie. I know a few people who have chosen to abstain from the new wave of mirth.”
“Is that so? Why?”
He threw up his hands. “Because they want to feel, man.”
“You think I don’t feel? I feel fantastic.”
“Well, they feel fantastic and terrible and everything in between. They may not be as productive as your followers, but they’re way more reproductive.”
“What do you mean?”
He stared over his wine glass, then drained his cup. “You really don’t see it? Where have all the children gone?”
The next part of the conversation is a bit fuzzy. I don’t know why, but I can’t remember exactly what we talked about. It was something about children. We talked about all of our friends, but I had difficulty remembering most of the people he spoke about.
He mentioned Hector Reilly, our old pyrotechnics expert for our concerts. It’s difficult to forget the impression Hector made. The man set the stage on fire every night. Hector, apparently, is one of those who haven’t adopted Raptura as part of his lifestyle.
“So what’s next for your Novaforte company, now that you’ve converted almost the entire world to your drug of delight.”
We were back to a subject I knew well. Mr. Darby had primed me to talk on our new vision. “The environment,” I said. “We want to save the planet.”
“Mr. Darby and many of his executives will be expanding their efforts into campaigns for global environmental reforms. Now that poverty and unemployment are on the decline, it’s a good time to get people excited about making the world a better place.”
I think Ryan approved of the environmental reforms I explained, but I couldn’t convince him to take Raptura. I’m sure he’ll come around, though. It took China five years. It might take Ryan a little longer.
Copyright © 2014 by Adam C. Richardson