Generation A
Ronald.”
    “I feel good about you, Zack.”
    I looked around me and said, “You know what, I’m going to lie back down on the bed here so that you guys can spray your CIA sleepy gas in my face.”
    I lay down, and for the first time since the sting, I began to think clearly about my recent past. I thought of Charles and his webcam . . . crap . Well, I guess the world knows everything about Zack there is to see. To cope with this realization, I chose nature’s ultimate ego-preservation tool: I decided not to give a shit. ∗
    But in my Level-4 containment facility beneath the surface of North Carolina, I was going crazy. To jack off or not to jack off? Later.
    I said to Ronald, “Drain my veins completely, for all I care. Good night. Or good day. Or good whatever-it-is in the real world.”
    The jellied cubes began to taste better and better as the weeks progressed. And then, one day, I was evicted without ceremony. They asked me to pick out a few garments from among those lying inside a lost-and-found cupboard—a witness relocation cupboard? No idea. I chose some vintage Gulf War camouflage pants and a wife-beater like my favourite avatar in MarineWarp3: The Blessing. Best. Battle. Game. Ever. They then took me to a tarmac and a waiting C-141 Starlifter transport plane. It looked like it came from a garage sale picked clean by early birds: it was scuffed, pitted and greasy. Its interior smelled like a Salvation Army thrift shop—all it needed was mismatched cutlery and a spew-stained stuffed animal.
    During the flight I asked what was supposed to happen now: was I free? Was I to be a long-term lab rat? Could I lead a normal life? None of the military types were willing to give me any answers.
    We landed at Oskaloosa Municipal Airport, and the temperature was around the freezing mark, even though the month before we’d had record heat. Nobody met me at the airport—I thought my cheap bastard Uncle Jay could have at least called me a cab. When I got to the bottom of an aluminum gangplank, the plane’s door slammed and within a minute it was airborne, leaving me marooned at the haunted airstrip. When I was little, the place was practically choking with planes all day, and I remember my father stealing a pair of Ray-Bans from the dashboard of a BASF Crop Protection van. These days, there’s grass busting through cracks in the tarmac, and as I walked towards the road I saw a coyote skedaddle across the runway’s south end.
    I caught a ride home with a Mexican who made me sing along to mariachi songs. The bed of his truck was filled with bags of onions. In my tragic Spanish, I tried to make conversation, but the most I could understand was that onions are cheap to grow and require little pollination. He then sold me a bag of magic mushrooms for ten bucks. Good old fungi: take that , you delinquent fucking bees .
    Of course, no one in the system had told me that, while I was locked up, my cheeky little getting-stung video had become a global number one hit. My humble cornfield was the most Google-mapped location of all time. My cock and balls drawing in the corn had become a popular tattoo. I was humbled: creativity, you are nectar.
    Maybe a quarter-mile away from the farm, I saw the first souvenir stand: a mobile home with some folding card tables out front, manned by an astonishingly fat woman wrapped in a blue shipping blanket and cuddling a pug. She was so odd-looking that I didn’t register the T-shirts at first: enlarged screen snaps of me naked. What the . . . ?
    There was another stand, then another, and then a small improvised community of people who’d been camping in tents like the farm was Live Aid 1985. There were also tailgate-partying tourists along the roadside who reminded me of the crowds who used to go to the old space shuttle launches in Florida. Nobody was paying any attention to my Mexican’s truck or to me.
    At the lane that leads to my place, a pair of armed guards stood before a long,

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