I was born shortly before my eighteenth birthday, and I’ll die soon, a decrepit man at thirty-five. I’m not being melodramatic or self-deprecating like some hyperbolic asshole. And I definitely don’t think every thirty-five-year-old is deterministically decaying into rot. This is simply the reality of my shambled existence. Most humans who’ve roamed the Earth for almost four decades are not incorrect in referring to themselves as middle-aged. But while I might be a man, I’m definitely not human, and my life is long past its halfway point.
My skin has been simultaneously hardening and dehydrating since my teenage re-birthday. At this point, I’m coated in such a thick patina of beef jerky, I’m more aged meat strip than man. About a year ago, the outer-most layer began scattering off me in a powder aerosol, a perma-dust exfoliation clouding me in particulate. I feel like Pig Pen from The Peanuts, forever drowning in my own effluvia. I can’t remember a world anymore without epidermal motes swarming my immediate airspace, blurring my reflection into an angelic smudge, fuzzing my perception of everything outside my personal Oort cloud.
Then a few weeks ago, small clumps of my ancient flesh – like teaspoonfuls of astronaut ice cream – started dropping off my bone limbs. I was working at my computer when a desiccated cheesy poof of body crust plopped from my forearm to the floor. More dive-bombers have been quick to follow, with my body mass index plummeting in their wake. My disintegration seems to be in end-stage acceleration. I’ve lost the ability to cohere, like one of those foam cores found at the center of a long since dried-up floral display.
My hands haven’t had much flexibility for years, but I’ve managed to retain some typing ability. It’s just poking the keyboard with my chopstick fingers. Nowhere near as fluid as before I was Affected, but feasible enough to complete my task. Unfortunately, much like my BMI, the efficacy of my starchy pecking has similarly plummeted off a cliff in recent weeks. It’s defeating in the way I imagine Stephen Hawking must experience frustration. I’ve read it now takes him ten minutes to input a single sentence into his voice-modulator. To feel you have vital information trapped inside an increasingly failing delivery structure… I’m terrified my digits will snap off as I attempt to get my story down, crippling me before I finish telling it.
Actually, let me take a step back. It might be better to re-frame the entirety of my existence as one man whose time on Earth was subdivided into two separate lives, each less than a couple decades long…