“Obliviol” by Jason A. Bartles

INTERIOR FAMILY HOME – EVENING

ADULT, any conscious human, late 20s to mid-30s, watching television in a beautiful suburban home they could never actually afford due to crippling student loans and the rollback of the Dodd-Frank reforms.

ZOOM TO extreme close-up on ADULT’s face. Cool evening colors transition to black and white. A muffled list of side-effects can be heard from the TV, as the words “dizziness,” “stroke,” “heart disease,” “weight gain,” “seizures,” “erectile dysfunction,” “death,” “Death,” and “DEATH,” appear on the screen. The serenity in ADULT’s face gives way to foreboding as they lose the ability to pretend, even for twenty-two minutes, that everything is going to be alright.

ADULT:
I struggle with Drug Advertisement-induced Agitation, Anxiety, Apprehension, and Horror, or AAAH. It’s tough. Watching television used to lull me into a sense of security and well-being that allowed me to forget about the nightmarish world I inhabit. But these constant ads shock me into an awareness of my own mortality and make it hard to quell the impeding sense of doom closing in around me from all sides. So I talked to my doctor, and she prescribed OBLIVIOL.

FADE TO scenes of a female doctor consulting with patients, families playing in a field or on a windy beach, and a guilt-free, white couple watching the news footage of unjustified violence being committed against refugees at the border.

ANNOUNCER, the soothing voice of a woman who would remind you that things are better than they used to be, relays the FDA-required description and warnings as these scenes play.

ANNOUNCER:
OBLIVIOL was proven effective in reducing Drug Advertisement-induced Agitation, Anxiety, Apprehension, and Horror, or AAAH.

OBLIVIOL helps prevent television viewers from losing their fleeting sense of complacency when bombarded with the list of a drug’s side effects, many of which are equal to or worse than the ailment such a drug is meant to alleviate or cure. This once-a-day pill is approved to treat AAAH in adults and in teens of broken homes, fourteen years and older.

OBLIVIOL can cause serious side effects, including:

∙      blurry or abnormal vision

∙      dizziness

∙      stuffy nose or congestion

∙      muscle pain, which can lead to death

∙      heart disease

∙      weight gain

∙      uncontrollable sexual desires toward distant, and therefore seemingly stable, men

∙      erectile dysfunction

∙      seizures

∙      inappropriate fits of maniacal laughter

∙      suicidal thoughts, which can lead to Death

∙      DEATH

While taking OBLIVIOL, do not drive, operate heavy machinery, consume fried foods, alcohol or edibles, or vote.

Do not take OBLIVIOL if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant despite all the reasons against bringing children into this terrible, terrible world.

Before taking OBLIVIOL, tell your health care provider if you:

∙      have or have had low or high blood pressure

∙      have or have had heart palpitations or difficulty breathing

∙      have or have had dreams in which you shout at your racist relatives

∙      have or have had the desire to stay in on a Saturday

∙      have or have had stomach ulcers

∙      have or have had night terrors about the coming apocalypse

∙      have or have had fantasies of burning it all down

ADULT:
Being able to block out the horrors of the modern world when they don’t directly impact me means so much. Thanks, OBLIVIOL.

ANNOUNCER:
Ask your doctor if once-a-day OBLIVIOL may be right for you.

 


Jason A. Bartles is a writer and Assistant Professor of Spanish at West Chester University where he teaches Latin American literature. He reads and writes about utopian thinking in the wake of disasters.

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