He coughed and the blood brimmed at his lips. He was having a bad time hiding it today. Looking around warily he took his handkerchief out and slowly wiped the sides of his lips. He gazed at the stained kerchief and wondered whether someone would notice it before he could get rid of it. Rolling it into a small ball, he held it within his fist and slowly headed towards the crowd in front of the restaurant. This was the only place they were giving free meals in the neighbourhood and he did not want to miss the meal of the day.
When he reached the crowd, they parted slowly giving him space to move closer to the restaurant’s door. It was the usage when someone older joined the crowd and he realised that they were all much younger than him, newcomers. Only a couple of older men and women were now in front of him blocking the entrance to the restaurant. Nobody was really hungry from the look of it but they all were looking forward to the prospect of having an actual meal. Processing air for energy was enough to live on but some missed the old times when you could actually chew something and feel its warmth in your belly. The newcomers only came for the high and the laughs. They found it very funny to try getting energy the old way that their parents spoke about.
The passage to the restaurant slowly cleared up and he made his way to the counter. They were serving simili chicken broth as no animals were killed anymore. It was made of vegetables and a special DNA replicating mushroom that replicated the cells and therefore taste of whatever animal was on the menu. It was just a sort of wink to the old timers and their meat-eating days and a way of allowing them to have their preferences without hurting any living being on Gaia.
He took the bowl of broth and walked to an unoccupied high chair proceeding to eat hungrily. Realising that some people had started staring, he checked himself to appear less hungry and ate a little less eagerly. It would not sit well with the onlookers if they realised he was actually relying on the meal and not on the air transformation for his energy intake. The warmth of the broth consoled and placated him but it also stirred the fluttering. His chest heaved and he coughed again but this time a bit harder and a bit longer. His body lurched forward mouth spitting forth several bright red spots across his table and on the floor. His immediate neighbours retreated in panic moving swiftly away from him and the ones further away curled up their noses and mouths in disgust.
He realised there was no point concealing anymore and put the handkerchief to his lips dabbing them to wipe away the blood. There was a buzz around him and he realised they had called in the health squad. Two of them came towards him. Mr. Ricini said one of them softly. Yes, he answered realizing there was no point lying as they could sense his identity. We are sorry you are experiencing this and can help you put an end to it, pursued the soft-tongued health officer, Aron. I don’t want to put an end to it he said, I want to die. All the onlookers shrank back in surprise and disgust at the notion that someone would actively want to die. The officers looked at each other and then back at him. You cannot do that here Sir, said the other health officer.
Suddenly, the meaninglessness and abjection of it all hit him and he felt desolate as their wills pressed against his but he fought back. He was frantic to keep his own desire now that he had expressed it in open space. He laughed and the cough got worse. He stiffened and then suddenly lurched forward mouth spilling blood…