Short Story: How the Human ATM Lived Forever by Carlo C. Flordeliza

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

It had been forty-two days since the incident. Pulling money out of his body became a daily routine. He had no choice. When he ignored the piece of paper sticking out, the side of his body ached, he became nauseated, forcing him to vomit. And so, every morning, he would lock himself inside the bathroom, turn on the shower, and pull out money from his body.

The first few days were challenging. He told his parents that he had a particularly bad case of the flu. He forced himself to cough hoarsely. When someone entered his bedroom, he hid under the covers, shivering, trying his best to impersonate someone who had the chills. He had hoped that his condition would pass after several days, much like the disease he pretended to have. He went online and searched for anything about humans that made money using their bodies. He found stories and interviews about prostitution. He found porno videos of Asian hookers who specialised in fetishes, from BDSM to peeing on the face of their customers. He found articles and posts about modern day slavery. He found Reddit threads filled with people who desperately hope that they could shit money, fish it out of the toilet, and purchase everything they have ever wanted. However, there was nothing about any medical condition that made a person biologically manufacture actual money. It was unnatural. He was officially a mutant, an aberration, a freak of nature. On his third “sick day,” he decided to just ignore it, like what many teenagers had done once they find something growing on their body.

It became easier over time. Marcus no longer blacked out. He learned to live with his condition. The key was to finish the withdrawal as fast possible and simply let the pain overcome him. There was no use biting his lip. There was no use clenching his fist. There was no use burying his nails in his palms. There was no use cutting his thigh with a blade. He just had to ride out the pain. He cried. He grunted. His toes would curl. But it would end.

In an attempt to derive some pleasure from the strange phenomena, he splurged. He bought a family-sized pizza with extra cheese and bacon, Italian sausage, a case of imported beer from Germany, several bottles of vodka for his friends, new shirts to replace those that got soaked in blood, and a couple of grams of marijuana to numb the pain. Eventually, he realised that he couldn’t spend the leftovers on anything he actually wanted. The videogame console, laptop, and skateboard he desperately wanted to purchase would draw too much attention from his parents. He stashed the money in the meantime, until he thought of a better and acceptable excuse.

His parents began to notice. The procedure, the “withdrawal,” as he called it, left him tired and without an appetite. His days were occupied with thoughts of the next time he sat underneath his shower.

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