The tablets had been popularised simply as ‘Taste’ and ‘Forever’ in the years past, when the Media was permitted to make such grand mistakes. Masses upon masses had filled the streets, all crying for their part of Forever… they were desperate, sweaty, ugly… human walls pushing into factory restrictions, spilling into warehouses to claim their very own eternity. Desperation, indeed. Many would recall these weeks with a bittersweet joy, for desperation was the last sensation to have ever graced their insides; a single remaining memory of feeling, for those who were now the Forever living.

Once a single Forever tablet had been swallowed, each day would require the very same. This dependency on the Forever chemicals swam in the blood of the generations which would follow… a quickly spreading virus, promising the virtues of time without end. Appealing, consumable. Centres were erected for the purpose of communal daily intake of the Forever- ingestion in simultaneous and mandatory movement. The police would take dissenters away if they did not attend. We would never see these people again.

The Forever had penetrated the world’s markets within weeks. Nothing else was needed now… crops would grow, and wither and die. After centuries the land had become barren, untended and unprotected against its natural destroyers. Buildings fell out of use and now endured ignorance, crumbling and dying: an entire civilisation with no need for food or shelter, standing in the ruins of its former luxury. Only the Forever Centres stood now, surrounded always by a sea of lifeless individuals. Some worked for the medical profession, but most just existed and spent their time standing, here, silently. For Forever called for nothing else. Once the Forever was inside you, there was nothing else to feel, or need, or love. Nothing at all.

But Taste also existed within this wasteland of humanity. Taste was shaped much like Forever, but juxtaposed its essence, for it provided instead an end. Taste could be taken in the Forever Centres upon request, and sometimes we would see people fall and writhe and die with the remnants of Taste still upon their tongues. The Media had told us that Taste was the singular most beautiful chemical to have ever been formulated. That its sheer splendour was unbearable. That death would always follow.

The Media had not existed for eras.

Today, I walked alongside hundreds of other individuals to the Forever Centre. We had spent the night standing under an overpass. We were the sleepless, the needless. For centuries we had stood awake beneath the dying concrete, watching the stars race above us, but each feeling nothing. Today, the white sun was blazing against my bare skin, but inside there was a cool: the same pervading cool, as ever. The everlasting grey. A feeling not quite present; a vast of nothingness.  Empty and unplaceable. Ordinary existence.

We walked together, all of us old, so very old. We had each taken Forever our entire lives, and we had lived and aged and our swollen bellies yearned secretly for more. Our skin hung from our bones, mottled and grey. Each of us was dying, but without the release of death. Emaciated and ravaged, hair sweeping the rubble-adorned floor beneath us. Our anguish had dissipated with the Forever, but it had been replaced with nothing. Our bodies should not have been able to walk, but Forever permitted us this small mercy. We walked together, but separately; we would not hold each other’s hands, for joy was unfindable within ourselves. Forever equalled nothing: an endless fog, a dreary sky. I had seen these people every day for hundreds of years, and I did not know their names or who they were before. They could not matter to me.

We reached the Centre. Each person before me asked for Forever. But today I asked for Taste… a mild curiosity bubbling beneath the surface of my caved-in chest, barely detectable, but present. Or perhaps I had imagined it? Nonetheless, today I would be the one that the others watched die. I had chosen my end as casually as we would have posed for pictures, all those years ago. None would feel sadness.

We lined up to have our medicines distributed and checked. Then we waited until the right time, and the blowing of the whistle by the Forever Officials. Fragile and decaying hands, holding tiny cups, readily raised into mouths- a display not unlike the military tradition of the past: an army saluting… the army of Forever.

I put Taste in my mouth and swallowed. Immediately, the flavour of the tablet overwhelmed my system. The pill itself was like lemonade, but, no… like grapefruit, pineapples, strawberry… I could feel my burned skin growing tighter around my body, the tablet still fizzing incessantly in my mouth. It was too much. My head was about to burst. My knees buckled beneath me and I fell to the floor, the weight of my head crushing my nose as the cold tiles embraced me… now there was warm blood on my face. Thick and sweet-smelling. I could feel the sadness and pain race through my veins… and it was beautiful. I could feel, and now I was truly alive, face-down and covered in blood.

A sudden warmness enveloped my entire body and the pain heightened- oh, so magnificently. In my mind, a friend ran towards me, holding out Forever in her hands and laughing, ‘If you had to take a pill to survive, would you?’, and I’m screaming and running at her… and then water is upon my face… and I am falling from the sky… the wind whistling past my ears and flowing through my hair, the fumes of the white clouds filling my lungs with air that seems almost like fire! I am coughing and living, and dancing and dying, and I am endless and finite, all at the same time.

A crescendo of colours and flavours, of scenes I had never laid eyes on in my life and of people and friends I had never met. Such happiness and exaltation, and such anger and hatred: the greatest of feelings swamped my body and sent me rolling in ecstasy. Images from my childhood, the misunderstanding of the world, and the innocence, and the crushing impact of love and of revulsion and of grief- beautifully melancholic feelings infested my organs, pushing them to the surface of my skin. Such pain, such beautiful pain, such woe of the ages and heartache for the past, and for the forgotten, and for the living. I wished to die now, and I wished to live with this pain forever… but I had known Forever, and suddenly there was little else to do but to die: the greatest triumph of my life… I loved it with all of my heart, and then as quickly as it had come, it began to fade… I could feel the last breath escape from my body as the circles of colour waltzed behind my eyelids. The sweetest breath that I had ever taken in my entire life.

And I was no more.

23 thoughts on “Taste

  1. What an interesting metaphor you’ve created for the meaning that death brings to life. The separation into stark contrast illustrates clearly how we must choose to be alive or choose to live! Well done!


  2. Such a Beautiful essay your words are so strong and deep,, I really hope i can be a writer as well as you….the way u describe your emotions are unbelievable…..once again am a Fan…:)


    1. Thank you, Dark Jade! I’ll get round to writing a reply to my various nominations at some point, I’m sure of it.


  3. I’m speechless (ish), it’s just so good!
    Have you had any of these published, Anna? I know it’s a pain being told ‘you should’ but really… you should!


    1. Thanks, Val! To be honest, I would love to be published and do this for a living, but I’m nowhere near good enough for that yet. I always re-read my work and think, ‘Ugh! That needs changing…’, and while I’m sure that will never stop, I can’t imagine anyone would be interested in publishing me right now. I think I need to build up a bigger portfolio and then see what happens, but for the time being I so love to read your comments and the support you give me, so thank you :)


    1. Hi Dark

      I got the invite thanks but I just want to tell you that if Anna doesn’t sign up as well, I aint doing it either. Sorry to throw in such a condition but I just don’t feel comfortable without having her on board as well.



    2. Hi DarkJade,

      Thank you so much for the offer, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to say yes. I’m truly honoured to be thought of so highly for you to have considered me to write a guest submission, but to be honest just having the one blog post a week here on the Insanity Aquarium keeps me busy enough, what with work and general real-life activities alongside that, too.

      I’m really sorry to have let you down like this, but thought it would be better to just be straight up and honest; doing guest submissions isn’t something I have time for right now as I need to focus all my energy into coming up with original material for here. I’m still honoured you thought of me, and I still think you’re a wonderful writer, but I can’t accept the invitation. I hope you understand and I wish you the very best of luck with your new blog :)

      Maybe do an audition-stylee forum post to see if people who have the time for this sort of thing would be good enough, if they want to join? Or advertise it on your blog for readers to see and think about having a go? Just a thought, anyway :)


    3. No worries Anna, I actually thought that might be the case, being you generally Post once a week. But you were one of the Four people that I wanted to bring on board. Pdk, Pete and Mid were into it, so I should be good. We’ll leave a Seat Open for yah should you be so inclined, or get some more time. Come check us out. http://oneknight68.wordpress.com/

      The Written Word is still my main Blog

      Thanks Anna



  4. Anna, That was wonderful. I just love how the story went. I really loved these lines “I could feel the last breath escape from my body as the circles of colour waltzed behind my eyelids. The sweetest breath that I had ever taken in my entire life.

    And I was no more.” Wow such power and emotions in them. Keep it up.


  5. The last two paras were some of the best I’ve ever read. It presented a contrast to the two worlds, presented them in unison and then swarmed us with reality. Loved it. Pure class.


    1. Thank you. The last few paragraphs were the ones I really wanted people to feel, so I greatly appreciate this comment :)


  6. As always, this was wonderful writing. It actually sent a chill down my spine. My son is reading the classic book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which though different from your work speaks of immortality, and what it does to someone. Who would want to live forever if all you do is exist. If love, hope accomplishment, and even fear are non existent. I enjoyed the ending. I love the way you described your emotions at the end with the taste. Thanks for the good read. You are an extremely complex person.


    1. Thank you so much for your comment, I’m so glad you enjoyed the end :)

      And ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is a fantastic book; perhaps a little unremitting with its descriptions at times, but still wonderful, and beautiful, and terrifying.


  7. That was terrible…

    Terribly f’n awesome! As I said before I always look forward to Aquarium Monday’s and you didn’t disappoint! If this was a film I’d definitely be buying a ticket to see it and then buying the DVD (The special uncut edition).


    1. Even if the special uncut edition lasts longer than Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’ and was made up mostly of llamas dancing, in place of any actual storyline, because I might have accidentally destroyed all the film archive in a drunken rage? Hmm… this might be my new project…

      And thank you for the comment, Pete! I am also relishing the label ‘Aquarium Mondays’. And now to celebrate, with some toast… :D


    2. I’d be buying it especially if the special uncut edition lasts longer than Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’ and was made up mostly of llamas dancing, in place of any actual storyline, because you might have accidentally destroyed all the film archive in a drunken rage!

      We need to get Aquarium Monday’s a known thing across WordPress.

      The lesbian that sits next to me at work asked me earlier what I was reading, “Well it’s Aquarium Monday’s, so what do you think?”

      She didn’t know what I was talking about but she left me alone.


  8. Well, that was magnificent. As many of us I’m sure have thought of such a thing as Immortality, and/or the Fountain of Youth as it were. This piece definitely heightens the light upon the absurdity that would surely accompany such an existence. Or as so excellently portrayed by you, the non-existence. I do believe you may actually bring some peace to readers that do, and/or have wrestled with this issue in their minds eye. And I gotta tell you, that is truly a triumphant thing. Bravo Anna. You must have really spent some intensely focused time on this Piece. And for that I am grateful, it’s not all that often that I feel as though my mind and conscience is being stretched, something that you’ve surely done with this. Isn’t it an amazing thing to think that something you, or I, or someone else might Write can truly change, and/or affect someone in such a way. But you’ve done it, your minds sweat and tears are not lost upon this one. Thank you Anna, and it is written so eloquently too.



    1. Thank you so much, your words are so kind! It’s readers like yourself that make the ‘sweat and tears’ worthwhile, so thank you :)


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