By Geoffrey C Porter
The machine decided it was time to quit smoking. The machine is that force of will inside my head that drives me to both the brink of insanity and the crux of success. I must obey the machine, and today it spoke with a clear metallic voice: quit.
It has been there with me at every one of my darkest turns of fate, controlling me and guiding my actions and words. It calculates with a cold, blinding, murderous precision unmatched by any man-made device.
Perhaps my machine is man-made, though. People have definitely added pieces to it over the years: mother, father, sibling, and best friends. The machine rarely speaks, but when it speaks, I obey. When I am tired, I let it drive me forward. When all is lost, it builds a warm fire for my heart and destiny. When I am caged, the machine still runs free.
It lifts my spirit on lonely days like a quick jolt from a more powerful drug than any dealer sells. I don’t talk about the machine. It told me not to long ago. I think deep down that the machine is a killer. Not just a killer of my fellow man, but the destroyer of dreams and hopes. The machine drives me forward when nothing else will.
I have tried to quit smoking a thousand times in the past, but never with the undivided will of the machine. It sends a flux of ecstasy racing through my tingling veins as I write this. It’s these blasts it triggers that remind me perhaps not everyone has a machine as refined and well oiled as mine. At times, it has been alive in me, coursing precious endorphins through my body multiple times in the day.
The machine is only quieted by the darkest and strongest of modern medicines. Still, I take the medicine, for the machine is truly broken and will spin out of control at the simplest of turns in the path. I wonder sometimes where it would have taken me if I were born 3,000 years ago, before the advent of medicines with the sole design of caging the machine. Would it have driven me to be a great conqueror? Would I have been truly crippled without medicines? Would I have lived in the woods and briars of ancient man like an animal?
Today, I am truly crippled by the machine. It is a great boon to possess a machine, but mine breaks. And it’s not so much the breaking that bothers me, but the plagues of darkness and visions that assault me when the machine does break.
It talks, often saying gibberish like, “It doesn’t matter how much firepower you have,” or “Harkonen Battle Group.” I just ignore it. I’ve gotten good at both allowing the machine to drive me and to ignore its rambling. Sometimes it comes up with a new thought or phrase to assault my brain with; sometimes I have to quiet my mind with simple mantras which I will choose not to share. Over time the machine has become quiet as if biding its time for some great cataclysm. The machine keeps me safe when I drive. Yes. The machine is a big fan of driving, and it is a very safe driver.
I ask myself sometimes if I am alone, and it is imaginary, then nothing, but in a day or a week, it will send a shiver through my body, reminding me of its presence. It decided today was the day to quit, and I obey. No one believes I will quit today. Only I feel the power of the machine, and know I will pay dearly if I don’t quit.
The machine has proven time and again it is capable of waging war, and I know it will beat me, even if it tries to destroy me. It controls my actions and will, moreso than I ever could. It decides when it is time to work. It lets me play when I want, thankfully, but when it’s time to work, I must punch the clock attached to the machine.
It is a hard, diligent worker, but fickle in what it will work on. I can accomplish things without the machine, but I produce wonders with it. The machine is on. It has been years since the machine was on. I have to hope it doesn’t drive me to the abyss, but surely I must embrace its power and let it drive my actions. My hopes and prayers lie in the myriad of anti-psychotic medicines coursing through my veins. The drugs have kept the machine quiet for perhaps too long, and I have a dire feeling that it’s angry and seeking redemption. In the morning, I shall begin to finish an old task, and I am hoping the machine is with me. With the machine, I will make leaps and strides in my work, and without the machine, I will simply putter along at a snail’s pace. The machine was alive today, so I expect it will be with me tomorrow.
The medicines are said to stop working ever so slowly over the years, and I wonder if the machine is finally breaking free of the last of its holds. I dare not share this story with my doctor to see if he wants to prescribe a new medicine. I do not want a new medicine. I want the machine to pulse with life driving my destiny to new heights.
It has been a long time since I’ve used tobacco. It was a great battle, but in the process, have I lost the machine? It no longer sends pulses through my neural system. It no longer keeps me warm on cold nights. It no longer whispers insanities. I miss it.