Rich looked at the pill. It seemed far too small to do what it was supposed to. “Is it safe?” he asked.

“Nothing is really safe,” said Derek. “If you don’t take risks, you might as well sit at home watching TV.”

Sweat stuck the pill to Rich’s hand the first time he brought it to his mouth, and he swallowed only air. Second time, he took it on the tip of his tongue, and it tasted like everything.

Swallowed, done, waiting. “How long does it take? How will I know it’s working?”

“It takes different amounts of time for everyone,” said Derek. “But you’ll know when it kicks in.”

There was nothing to do but smoke ciggies and watch TV in Derek’s front room. Sixty quid was a lot of money for Rich, particularly when he had bills to pay. But he’d heard so much about these pills: take one, wait a while and you turned fictional. For an hour, your life took on new meaning. When Derek said he had some, Rich had to try one.

He knew the risks too, had done his research online. Most people just wandered around for a while, came out with a funny tale for the pub. True, there were others whose lives were transformed forever for the plot threads from that little tablet. But, like Derek said, if you don’t take risks, you never live.

They ended up watching a property show — the only thing Derek could find even a bit worth watching. “I’m thirsty,” said Rich. “I’m going to pop out and get a drink. You want anything?”

“I’m good,” said Derek. “But make sure you come back. We’ve everything prepared here.”

On the table were several props, all with the potential to start something interesting. Rich had brought a bag of keys that his mate Alex had given him — “Keys are a great way to start a story,” Alex had said. And there was the money in Rich’s wallet — more than the cost of the pill, in case his story needed some cash. It would be a waste to have something exciting start, then be stopped for lack of money.

It was too bright when Rich emerged from the flats. He blinked. A man stood beside an alley across the road and seemed to be staring at Rich. As Rich started walking, the man followed. When Rich sped up, the man also sped up.

He started sweating. What if he was in a genre he didn’t want to be in? The man was getting closer, approaching a zebra crossing that would bring him onto Rich’s side of the road. He considered turning and running back to the flats when a car pulled up beside him. The passenger side window was open, and the woman driving told him to get in. The man was getting closer, so Rich scrambled into the car, and it sped off into a story.

James Burt lives in a valley beside a river where he enjoys writing short stories. Their website is at www.orbific.com.

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Every Day Fiction