Back in school I used to take this stuff called Doxofin. It was stimulant my roommate’s friend whipped up while developing a nootropic for some startup that never took off. She was chem major. Damn good, but damn lazy. She never got around to graduating.
First time I took it was because I was curious. She gave me forty milligrams because she didn’t know how powerful it was at the time. About half an hour in I felt it hit. It was that feeling of running all-out, legs extending as far as they could go, and not feeling out of breath or exhausted. A pure, open, mental sprint that lasted for an hour. Every word, every movement, was calculated, analyzed, optimized, and purely efficient.
After that, I was hooked.
My grades never got better, but they didn’t need to. I was top of my class. My productivity, on the other hand, well that skyrocketed. The stuff I came up with back then blows my mind now. It got me where I am today. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t lost that. Sometimes.
I experimented to the point where I knew exactly how much to take to hit the level I wanted to function at. Eighty milligrams became the base dose. Take that seventeen minutes before class with sixteen ounces of OJ and I could get my work done for the upcoming class, while taking notes and catching up with friends. A hundred-forty milligrams just after dinner would get me a productive all-nighter on a Friday. Another hundred Sunday morning would get my sleep cycle reset for the rest of the week. Sure there was the burnout afterwards — your brain can only run on max for so long, but it wasn’t so bad.
Two hundred milligrams.
Third time I did that was the last time I touched Dox. Two hundred was about six hours of high-octane thinking — eight if you took an additional fifty at the four hour mark. But the crash, that was hell. Depression in the worst, most logical way. I wasn’t good enough to be at that school. All of my accomplishments were because of the drug, not me. Even when I looked at my output for those two years, I would think “yeah, but other people are doing so much more and they don’t take anything for it”. I was worthless, and I was smart enough to know that was true. In the eyes of the universe, we are all worth nothing.
I never contemplated suicide. I was too stubborn for that, and I wanted to prove to the unfeeling world that I was not just a blip on the radar. But I lost the will to operate for days at a time. One of the residual effects of Doxofin is that your perception of time stays warped. Minutes feel like hours, and days… well, that’s an eternity. Kind of like a dream, but worse because you’re trapped in reality. I know that the second time was just a week, but I swear I aged six months from that.
My roommate’s friend had moved onto another job, somewhere in Thailand I think, and with her went my source of Dox. Part of me knew it was the best thing for me. A different part told the first part it was wrong, and gave a well-reasoned argument for why I should keep taking it. Neither side won, because after I stopped I figured out how to synthesize it myself in three days. Like I said, residual effects.
Ten years later I find myself here. On a ship, about eighty thousand kilometers past the Moon, moving away much faster than I should be. An hour ago I became the last living member of my crew. Well, technically that’s not confirmed. I only recovered evidence of three bodies, but after the explosion there wouldn’t be much left of the fourth.
Thirty three minutes ago I got suited up, possibly for the last time. Twenty six minutes ago the module I’m in vented the last of its oxygen to a hull breach, and two minutes after that I determined my only source of breathable air is two kilometers away on the other side of a centrifugal research station. Given how long I’ve been away from Earth, I approximated my bone-mass loss at five percent and my muscle loss at eleven percent. I haven’t eaten in four and a half hours and I’ve used up everything I ate, judging by the slight tremor in my right hand.
Fourteen minutes ago I popped two hundred milligrams of Doxofin, which should kick in within the next thirty seconds. I don’t know how I’m going to make it across two kilometers on a quarter tank of oxygen, but in three minutes I will. All I have to do is wait…
Boom. Let’s do this.
Side Note: I've renamed this to "Space Drugs" to better set expectations ahead of time, so people realize this is a short fiction and not something more akin to a memoir. Hope you enjoy it!