TWENTY-NINE, 2.0

Four weeks into his resolution, Jack had to give up. The workouts had been brutal, and he was already fifty pounds lighter, but his mind was getting cloudy. Too many days, he’d woken up starving, too many nights he’d fallen asleep in a pool of his own sweat. The vomiting didn’t help, neither did the tasteless cardboard avocados that had served as his only meals. His heart had started to protrude out of his chest, it felt like, and every beat was BOOMING throughout the world. He’d look in the mirror and see a human piece of straw, ready to keel over at the first breeze. Calling in sick to work this past week, Jack knew it was close to quitting time for his resolution.

“Lose a hundred pounds this year.” Why did he have to push that button? He’d meant to push for TEN POUNDS. Just ten. One involuntary muscle spasm in his finger had led to an incorrect click on the mouse, and signed him up for the 100 Pound Program.

Jack hadn’t even really want to lose weight, he just didn’t have another Resolution to choose. Nothing in his life was very negative at the turn of the year. His job treated him well, his fiancee was happily planning their wedding. Even his hobbies had increased in their fun factors, and taking up archery for last year’s Resolution had made him a happy man.

Jack woke the morning of the start of the fifth week of the program with fifty pounds still to lose, and the scanner said so. But unless he were to crunch up and destroy all of his bones, he wasn’t sure where the weight would come from. His eyes were large, sunken holes at the front of his skeletal face. His head looked like that of an ancient alien, bald and protruding oddly, skin stretched to the limits over his skull.

His fingernails had fallen off in Week 3, along with his toenails. He’d even tried to cut off his toes, but after he chopped off the first he realized he would only gain ounces on the Program and it wouldn’t be enough.

The scanner never lied.

As the treadmill began, Jack pushed the QUIT button. The rubber track halted and the red lights flashed. He could barely hear it amid the sense of relief echoing inside his head.

“YOU HAVE FAILED.”

The voice was booming, speakers static-filled with maximum volume. Food was handed to him from the robotic arm at the edge of the Scanner, and Jack smiled as he scarfed down a piece of his wedding cake.

The smile stayed on his face despite the poison, and he imagined how lovely it would’ve been to enjoy such a delicious cake at his wedding.

 

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