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God Virus

Pat King 

Pat King has had short stories and articles published in various journals on the web and in print.

A short screenplay of his is under development by the underground horror studio, Death by Flypaper.

Exit Nothing, his novel, is available at

Visit his blog ( for silly videos and pop culture musings.

He is also the editor and chief of at least two magazines that I know of. (Editor in Chief JU)

 You can poke me, pull my skin, tickle me. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I’m made of flesh. I know I’m real, too, but that wasn’t always true.

Not very long ago, my skull was a shell that separated me from the world at large.

I was sad, isolated, mad with ecstasy. I was in a metaphysical suck-hole.

Other people were images on a blurry TV screen. I was infected with the God virus. I loved it. I needed to shake it.


Used to be that I moved in slow motion. Be cool. Open the car door. Put one foot down and then the other. Now maneuver yourself through the parking lot. Try not to get distracted by the trees or bushes lined up to decorate the otherwise cold, perfectly suburban shopping center. Yes, the greens and browns of the leaves and branches are so intense they seem to be vibrating with psychic energy.

God particles. But stop staring. Just make it into the grocery store. Lift those feet. Walk inside, get to the deli department. Or am I working in the dairy aisle today? Don’t get distracted by the cereal boxes on the shelves. The vibrations they make are no less intense than anything else.

Don’t make eye contact with anyone. What if they want to talk to you? That guy walking past. A coworker? What did he say to you? No matter, just stare at the ground, mumble something, move on.


 I was just not built for this world...

Exhaustion, a sort of paralysis. Lying on the couch after work, no need to get up until it’s time to go to bed. Exhausted but can’t fall asleep. Toss in bed. This ain’t narcolepsy. Watch TV, grow fat, let the exhaustion do its thing.


 I was lethargic and a slave to my visions. 

But, hooray, I was cured in the summer of 2013. I’m finally human. I miss feeling God everywhere I go, feeling the oneness of everything as a matter of course. Detached but filled with ecstasy. All that’s gone now. I gave it up in order to become a functional human being. But, no matter, at least now I can stop accusing myself of being insane.


A few years ago, when I was in my late-twenties, a friend of mine wrote to me saying that she was meditating and had a vision where I was in a mental ward, totally insane, my mind gone forever.

In her dream, I was only forty. Hearing this did nothing to help my disposition over the next few years, as the lethargy and the visions increased in intensity, leaving me helpless to their effects.


 Dizziness, voices blending together. Fingers snapping in front of my face.

 “You there? Hey, Pat, you there?”

 “Just drifted off. Sorry.”

 “Try to pay attention.”

 But how to pay attention? My thoughts were muddled, my vision was twisted.

I couldn’t focus at work because I could see the souls of the customers who stood

in front of the deli counter. This one was completely evil. That one was sleepwalking through life. This one had the smell of death about her. Ah, but this woman here, there’s a calm about her.

She’s open to the world and at peace with what it will bring to her. She’s full of compassion and gratitude.

Has she also been infected with the God virus?


So, tell me, how does one pay attention?

I could use the help, and quickly. This is no way to go through life. No focus, a foggy brain that can’t recall a damn thing, out of control visions and a van Gogh effect that makes colors pop with an intensity that sometimes leave me breathless. I want to pay attention. Teach me.


Then, March 2013, just an average day in the deli. I’m taking the plastic wrap off a loaf of roast beef, about to cut it for a customer. I put it on the slicer. I’m about to turn the blade on.

Suddenly, though I don’t feel the fall, I’m on the floor. Miss Barb, a sweet co-worker in her early sixties, looks down at me with great sympathy and worry. She offers me her arm, but I stand up on my own. I’m a bit wobbly.

I blink my eyes, try to get my bearings.


 Barb’s face is pale. Her expression is that of a sympathetic mother.

 “Pat, get in the back,” she says.

 “I’m fine,” I say.

 “Pat, get in the back.”

 I try to play it off, smiling at Miss Barb like a goof. But she isn’t having any of it.

She points toward the back room and, finally obedient, I leave the counter.

 I stand next to the industrial dishwasher, staring at the tall green dish rack, looking inside it, looking through it.

The dish rack becomes human, I become dish rack. Well, I’ve finally lost my mind. Nothing to do but get used to it.

 A calm comes over me. Okay, so I’m insane. But, no matter. Things could always be worse. Right?

 My feet and legs are heavy, as if they’re suddenly filled with concrete.

I clop-clop my way back to the counter. I stand over the sink and start to wash my hands, preparing to help my next customer. The warm water feels great. I stare at the sink, watching the water drain. Barb walks up to me, still very concerned, says, “You sure you don’t need to rest a little longer?

 "I say I’m fine."

I walk toward the slicers, ready to take the next customer’s order.

But I clop-clop and wobble and, like a character in an old slapstick comedy who’s trying to ice skate but can’t get any footing, I fall to the ground again.

 “Pat!” Barb says as I try to stand back up. “Go sit in the office! You need to see a doctor.”

 So that’s what I do.


A few weeks later, I was sitting in a neurologist’s office. The night before, I had taken an hour or so to meticulously write all my symptoms on a piece of yellow notepad paper. Some of the things I wrote:

 “van Gogh effect”

 “no energy”


 “foggy thoughts”

 “acting drunk”

 The doctor, a hyperactive guy, very tall, very sincere, looked at my paper. “Ah!” he said.

“Listen, I want you to get an EEG. There’s a guy right here in the hospital who can do it. If it’s what I think it is, I’ll definitely be able to help you.”


 The EEG guy was able to see me immediately. I went up a floor and met him.

 I laid down on an examination bed. The EEG guy pasted electrodes to my head. The room was darkened.

Lights flashed at my closed eyes. The pulses started slow, steadily increased. At their highest intensity, it was almost hard to tell that the lights were blinking at all. It seemed more like a steady stream of light.


Within an hour and a half, I was back in the neurologist’s office.

 “Seizures!” he said. “You haven’t noticed them because they’re so small that you never blank out or anything. But they’re causing your neurons to misfire, and this disrupts everything. I mean, all through your day you’re having these seizures that you don’t even know you’re having and it causes all these problems. Let me write you a prescription. If I’m right about this, you’ll be feeling like a new man in a week.”


 But he was wrong. I felt like a new man in two days.

Keppra. My miracle drug. Just two days and I was able to get out of bed without effort.

I could concentrate. I could get more writing done in one sitting. Just two days. It was amazing.


But the visions were also gone. Completely.

They’d been with me, at least mildly, since I was a teenager.

I’d suffered through them during my twenties and into my early thirties.

Two days. Just two days and they were completely gone.

Might as well have never been there. Poof. Just gone. To be disconnected from that, to be unplugged so suddenly, well, I don’t regret taking the medicine, but I kind of miss the God virus.

I don’t miss being distracted all the time, and by the simplest things.

But I miss the psychic connection I had with the world, with the inner life of things, both animate and inanimate.

So what if it was all just misfiring neurons? I miss it.


 I used to live completely inside my mind. I still do, but in a different way. The God virus is gone now, but in its place is clarity. I can be anything now. I have the energy and focus to do my work, both my part-time job and my writing. Maybe I’ll have to work that much harder to find God, or at least the sense of being metaphysically connected to everything I see. Still, I need to do my work. I need to figure out who I am. 

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