"Green Means Stop" by Opher Goodwin
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Today when I woke I was feeling distinctly off-colour. This was 

not the first time that I had felt none too bright.  I had a moment of panic. 

When I looked at my hands they looked distinctly green. My stomach did 

a flip and my heart pounded. I’m only twenty seven. I was too young to 

be feeling like this.


Lena said she will be my mate even if I were brown. That was such 

a nice thing to say and it floated into my mind and helped me calm down. 

I also had to admit that there was a part of me that would be quite happy 

to settle down with Lena and start a family. That was a strange feeling.

I dragged myself out of bed and headed for the bathroom reluctant 

to confirm my worst suspicions. With a great deal of trepidation I forced 

myself to look into the mirror. A wave of relief rushed through me. My 

normal face was peering back at me. I was perfectly normal. There was 

nothing to worry about. It was probably just some weird psychological 

thing. I wasn’t really changing at all. It was just me. I was panicking 

myself by thinking that it was nearly over. It wasn’t. I was twenty seven. 

I knew it wouldn’t be long now but I didn’t want it to happen. I dreaded 

it. I wanted to be young forever.


It had happened to Dave. Almost overnight he had turned brown. 

That was really unusual – to go straight to brown – and it was so sudden – 

and he had only been twenty six! That was a year younger than me. It 

could happen.


That’s probably why I got myself into this panic. What happened to 

Dave has had a big impact on me. He was given a job with the bank and 

now he’s in charge of a whole department and he’s almost black. Can you 

believe that? In three years? Straight to brown and on to black. 



That night, at the party I was wilder than ever. It was probably the 

relief. I was so full of energy. I went at everything full tilt and Lena, 

lovely Lena, kept pace with me every step of the way. We were setting 

the pace. The walls were pulsating with the brilliance we radiated out. 

Everybody noticed. We were brighter and livelier than all those young 

pretenders. We shone. The energy flowed through us and we let ourselves 

go with it in desperate abandon as if we had something to prove. No one 

was crazier than us.


We had a reputation to keep up. Our vitality was legend. There was 

nothing we would not try, snort or drink. You put it there we’d take it on. 

Whatever the craze or wheeze we were with it. There was no sound or 

dance we weren’t hip with. We were the most far-out couple.

I began to feel better. I was over it. My paranoia had subsided. I 

had ages yet. It was not my time yet. I was on the ball. I was still young 

and had plenty wildness still to come. After all, you only had to look at 

Pete. He was thirty five and he still strobed! I had years.

We stayed out later than usual getting wilder and wilder. It was 

such a gas. We were flying; so full of energy; so crazy. Lena was a gem. 

She stayed right there laughing along, egging me on. She was crazier than 

me. Nothing ever changed. All the girls loved a bad boy.

I copped some Zow and we lifted a racer. It was wild. I set it 

random and jammed it open so that it careened around so erratic we were 

flung from side to side, yelling and screaming with excitement.

Of course, it was inevitable; we got pulled over and taken in for a 

lecture. We got away with a caution. The blues were disdainful of colours 

but I sneered my way through, winding them up good with my greatest 

cocky panache. After all it was obvious to all of them that I’d scored the 

prettiest girl. They could see it and it screwed them up. Part of them 

envied my crazy ways. You could see it in their eyes. They really wanted 

to do me over but their hands were tied. They took my documents and 

zapped them.


Dad was not going to be pleased. It was the fourth time this week. 

But the old man could afford it and his Mum had always stood up for him 

when he had done daft things in his youth. When he went ballistic at me 

granny would chip in that it was all just a phase – she told dad that I 

would grow out of it soon. She gave Dad one of her looks and reminded 

him that he’d been just as wild in his younger days. She hadn’t a clue. No 

one was as wild as me and Lena.


Dad always protested that they’d not had stuff like Zow and racers 

back then and Zip had been much weaker them – not like this new 

synthetic stuff. This new Zip was really charged. You only had to read 

the stories. Thousands never recovered from the effects. They were burnt 

out, living dead. It made it all the more appealing.


I always stood their meekly as if butter wouldn’t melt and waited 

for the wave to wash over me. It was utterly predictable. There was 

nothing Dad could do.


It all proceeded as normal. The blues dropped me off and the 

lecture took its course.


My parents worried about me. That was only natural. They were 

frightened by all the scare stories. They wanted me safe. They’d be happy 

if I was brown and settled down like my brother. They really liked Lena. 

They could see us settled down together.


I finally got to go to bed with my ears ringing and a smile on my 

The next day there was no getting away from it. Everything was in 

my head was subdued and there was a distinct green hue to my face.


I stared at my self in the mirror in horror, opening my mouth and 

peering in. There was no getting away from it. The mirror did not lie. 

There was a definite green.


This time the green did not fade and I was having great trouble 

accepting it. Fuck. I could end up as black as my dad. He was so dark he 

was hardly alive. At least my uncle was still green. He could be a bit of a 

laugh. But black? – That was death, man. It was too frightening to even 

consider. That was so staid it was living death.


I sat on my bed in suicidal gloom looking from hand to hand, 

willing them to throb with vibrancy but only seeing dull fading colour 

and a new sheen of green.


There had to be something I could do? I was going green.

I zipped through my vibe checking what was out there. There had 

to be something I could take that would hold it back. There were all sorts 

of rumours that Pete was on something. There were different kinds of  

rumoured treatments offered on the web but they were hellish expensive 

and I didn’t have a bean. Money and me were allergic. It came in and it 

walked out. I never held it for long. Easy come, easy go. Besides, most of 

those remedies were a con. I knew that. Everyone knew they didn’t work. 

There were tales of people being left in a mess, bright purple, or worse!

But it was a risk I was willing to take. I was desperate.


I decided to broach it with Pete and zapped him. There was no 



I felt so tired. I could hardly think. My zest was deserting me.

As the day wore on I noticed my colour began to perk up and a bit 

of zest came back. Perhaps I was OK? It was just a bug? Too much Zow? 

I would be alright.


I felt hopeful. There was simply no way that I was ready to go green.

Then there was a knock at the door. I slid it open and Dad was 

there looking stern.


My heart sank. I’d had my lecture. I didn’t need this – not a second 

time; not when I was feeling so jaded.


‘Henry my boy,’ my father said almost sorrowfully, eyeing me 

soberly. There was no anger in his voice, indeed father seemed almost 

subdued. ‘It’s time we talked.’


I sat back on my bed with a sinking feeling. I had never heard him 

talk quite like this before.


‘I have been talking to the Firm,’ father continued apologetically. 

‘You’re a bright young thing. They have an opening for you.’

His eyes told me all I needed to know. My heart sank and I could 

feel an involuntary flush of green sweep over my face.

Next: "Under the Cover of Dreams" by Lynn Forrest

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