The RedBull Effect (Short Story)

The ice cold fizz was refreshing as I gulped down a large chug of redbull. Neck back, eyes closed, my insides tingled as the cool liquid made its way into my chest, cooling me down a little from the night’s summer heat. I leant forward on my desk towards my static mini fan, perched on the edge of my desk. My eyes were closing in on themselves.

Snap out of it. 

I forced myself to sit up straight. From left to right, I scanned the numeracy books scattered across my desk and sighed. Once again I’d made a foolish decision and left studying for my maths test until the very last minute. Literally. My test was first thing in the morning, 9am on the dot and I hadn’t revised a single thing. I was screwed, big time.

I rolled my eyes just thinking about the mental pain and exhaustion I’d be forced to work through as I wrapped my head around the algebra, timetables and multiplications I had yet to study, before I could finally tuck myself away under my duvet and fall into a deep sleep. My eyes scanned the pink clock hanging above my bedroom door. 10:30pm.

Already halfway through my can of red bull, I drunk a little more, the sweet smell comforting and yet a little nauseating. It wasn’t half bad, but the energy boost still hadn’t kicked in yet.

I’d never drunk red bull before, but my Dad was practically an addict. He kept about six cans of redbull in the side compartment of the fridge. Desperate for something to help me get through this night, I stole one of his cans from the fridge and chugged it down.

“Red bull give me strength,” I mumbled as my eyes closed involuntarily.

I must have actually fallen asleep, as my sweaty cheek was stuck to a page of my notebook when I next opened my eyes. A jolt of energy shot through my body like a sound wave. I sat up straight, alert, eyes wide open.

“Shit, what time is it?”

My eyes instinctively darted to the clock. Almost 12am.

“Shit!”

I picked up a pen next to my notebook and glared at the notes I’d written down. Words swirled like spirals, coloured dots dancing in front of my eyes.

The room begun to spin, twist and turn, my stomach heavy like an anchor had invaded my insides. I pursed my lips shut, feeling a tidal wave of nausea swarm over me. I pressed my mouth against my lips and tightened my stomach, desperate not to throw up, but sick climbed to the back of my throat and lingered.

I stumbled to my feet, one hand clinging to the edge of my desk, the other on the rail of my chair. I pushed my chair back and it fell to the floor as I lunged for my bedroom’s door handle, using all of my weight to pull the door open.

My stomach was bubbling, an uncomfortable heat warming my insides as I crouched to the bathroom adjacent to my room. I practically crawled to the toilet seat on my hands and knees and held my head over the toilet bowl. With one squeeze of my chest I released the contents of my stomach, hurling the steak and chips I’d eaten for dinner into the toilet.

I took a deep breath, the warm bubbles in my stomach cooling to a sizzle. I guess the red bull was a bad idea. Looks like I won’t be having that again. 

As I leant my back against the toilet seat, I realised that my limbs were shaking, my legs jiggling up and down uncontrollably. I wrapped my arms tightly around my legs to stop them from shaking and planted my face in between my knees.

Something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I wiped the hot sweat that ran down my nose and to my cheeks. I lifted my arms to see a patch of sweat under my arm pits, then I felt in between my legs, the insides of my thighs completely soaked. I was uncomfortably hot.

Washing my face with cold water did nothing to deter the heat that was arising within my body at an alarming rate.

I need some air.

I gripped my fingers around the stair rail as I lumbered down the stairs. My hands were burning and the sweat on my skin turned into steam. I panicked, short breaths escaping my lips as dots danced in front of my eyes again. What is happening to me? 

My bare arms were actually turning beetroot pink by the time I’d reached the bottom of the stairs and across the hall to the backdoor. I slid my hand under the fuzzy, caramel mat in front of the door and pulled a set of keys from under it.

“Come on,” I said through gritted teeth as I fumbled through the set of keys to find the right one. I struggled to concentrate, my skin now burning. I needed cold air, now.

As soon as I unlocked the door, I flung it open and rolled head first onto cool, wet grass, a welcome cool air brushing against my face. My skin hissed.

Arms spread out, I lay on the ground for a while, allowing the wetness of the grass to soak into my skin and cool me down. I can’t stay out here, I need to study.

As I rolled onto my hands and knees, a sharp jolt of pain shot through my spine. I bit my bottom lip to muffle the scream that threatened to escape my mouth, the pain stabbing at my upper spine. I arched my back, fingers digging into the grass, my toes curling.

Something sharp in my back pierced through my skin. I let out the scream I’d been holding and ripped the grass and mud from under me. My skin stretched and tore apart and I threw my head back, clenching my teeth to stop myself from screaming again. All I could do was mentally pray for someone powerful above to stop this nightmare.

“It is you.”

I heard a delicate, faint voice from somewhere. Blinking the building tears from my eyes, I saw a small girl, about 4ft tall and dressed in white, standing in the corner of the garden from the shadows. She tentatively stepped towards me.

I opened my mouth to speak but I couldn’t find the words, the pain still physically abusing me.

“The one with the power, it is you,” she said. Her voice was calm, almost harmonious.

The girl carried a look of curiosity and innocence as she leant over and reached her thin arm out behind me.

“Your wings. So beautiful. So precious.”

I turned to look behind me, a dull ache in my spine. Thick, white feathery wings leisurely flapped up and down as the girl stroked the wings like some sort of treasured cat. I quickly realised that the wings were coming out of me, from the back of my spine. The air around me grew thin, my breaths laboured.

“Redbull gives wings to the ones they believe is worthy. One with the potential to lead a nation from the skies beyond.”

She reached out her small hand. After some hesitation I grabbed it, scrambling to my feet.

“You must come with me chosen one. Your kingdom awaits.”

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