By Ryan Matejka
Based on the writing prompt: Enhancement drinks are introduced. Each can boost your skills temporarily.
It wasn't long after scientists cracked the human genome that the corporations found a way to profit off of it.
Looking back, it was the next logical step. First came the high-calorie, sugary sodas like Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, and Crush. Then people got more health conscious, so the same billion-dollar companies gave us Vitamin Water, Gatorade, and Snapple Antioxidant Water. It wasn't long until everyone wanted more. They didn't want to just feel like they were drinking better, they wanted their drinks to make them better.
So, either you could spend hours trying to convince your insurance company to pay for part of a half-million-dollar injection that would permanently increase your charisma, strength, or ability to play the electric guitar, or you could just walk down to your local corner shop and pick up a 12 pack of assorted Pepsi SkillUpTM - or, if you prefer a lighter flavor in your skill-enhancing beverages (or SEBs, as they're commonly called), Coca-Cola's Power SurgeTM - and reap the same benefits for anywhere between 15 to 60 minutes per can.
Nobody thinks twice about what they're putting into their bodies as long as someone tells them it will make them better.
The craze spread faster than the FDA could regulate it, and pretty soon the SEBs didn't just replace the leading enhanced waters as the drink of choice, but they replaced everything. Drugs, alcohol, recreational exercise, learning, and practicing all took a backseat to a chemically-engineered drink in a tin can. People have forgotten what value there is in failure. People have forgotten what value there is in effort. The food industry has done to human behavior what Google did to trivia questions.
Nobody is genuine. Everyone is just a drink away from nailing the interview, breaking the record, getting the girl, writing a bestseller, and hitting the high notes. What used to be lifelong passions that you bled and sweat to improve at have been reduced to mere weekend hobbies.
"What were you up to last night?"
"I started to design a rocket ship that runs on water, got bored halfway through, had another drink and swam to Greenland instead."
"How was it there?"
And maybe there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe this is just the next phase of humanity. Maybe we need to accept this new world or get out of the way. Maybe the fact that the corporations and government are making money hand-over-fist off of 200 million people addicted to a drink that robs them of their own personalities ... robs them of their own spirits ... is fine with you.
Maybe you're alright with the crippling depression, anxiety, and mind-numbing confusion that comes after the SEB wears off. Maybe you're alright paying money just to be a functional member of the new society. Maybe you're even alright knowing that the average, SEB-free human today suffers from dozens of physical and mental developmental disorders.
But if something about that doesn't sit right with you; if you want to experience the endorphin-fueled rush that only comes with the knowledge that you did something amazing that you only could have done after months and years of practice and setbacks; if you want to train and study hard to be the real and best version of you possible...
Consider choosing Glacéau SmartwaterTM the next time you're at the corner shop.