Bookworm Pills

Megan Arangure (Weber)
8 min readJun 29, 2021


What pill, book, and character would you want?

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

For the most part, my city is pretty normal, all our parents have jobs, we all go to school, we live normal lives, except for one thing. Our city has something known as “Bookworm Pills.” Now I know this may sound crazy, but this is something that we all have to do throughout our lives. Our city and our government are very adamant about not letting literature die again after the Literature Blight. All of the literature from the world disappeared for 100 years. Stories were only told based on memory. So when literature finally started to appear again our government refused to lose it ever again.

There are six different kinds of pills that you can pick from Blue(Amnesia Pill: You get to read a book as if you never have before), Pink(Sacrifice Pill: You can revive any dead fictional character), Yellow(Love Pill: You can make any fictional character fall in love with you), Red(Life Pill: You can make any fictional character exist in real life), Green(Travel Pill: You can visit any fictional world), and Purple(Body Pill: You can change bodies with any fictional character). The only catch is that when it comes time for us to pick, we are only allowed one pill and it is randomly chosen for us. However, whenever they try to pick one for me, the computer chooses all of them. I’m the odd one out and I don’t mind it, but apparently, everyone else does.

I love books, so I don’t mind it because it just means I get to experience them more, but it is something that I have to hide. So every time it is time to get our pill for the year, I have to choose one and be subtle about what I pick. Every so often I get to pick which pill I get because they can’t stop me, but my parents think it will become a problem in the near future. I hope that they are wrong, but my gut is starting to think that they are right. I haven’t met anyone else like me so the government will eventually catch on, no matter how much my teachers try to help, I’ve gotten away with it for 21 years, but there is only so much hiding that can be done.

Oh well. I will just keep going through life and doing my best to hide what I can and pray I don’t get caught. I mean what could they possibly do? It’s not like it’s my fault. Right? No, it’s not my fault, I was born this way. Would they really punish me for something that is out of my control? Anyway, it’s not something that I can think about right now, tomorrow is our day to get our pill for the year, I just need to focus on getting through this round, one day at a time.

As soon as I got to university the next day, everybody was already lined up to get their pill. We all have to check in first and then they send us to the line for our designated color. I always have to go and see the person in charge. I’ve gone through this so many times that they know who I am. So far I have had four of the six pills, I wonder what they will give me this year?

As I walk towards the person in charge, there is always a little bit of nervousness that resides in my stomach. I have done this so many times before, but with knowing who I am there is always a little hesitation. I make my way up to the supervisor and we have our usual conversation. Double-checking what I have had in the past and for how many years I had that specific pill. They created a special algorithm that determines which pill I will get and for how long. After conversing some more it looks like this year I will be getting in the line for the Red(Life Pill: You can make any fictional character come to real life) pill.

This will be my first year taking the Red pill and I am excited, but I don’t know how I feel about making a fictional character come to life. I don’t even know how this pill works. Do I get to pick the character or is the character chosen for me? I really hope I get to pick. If I do get to pick, I would love to choose my favorite character from my favorite book. I shouldn’t get my hopes up though in case I don’t get to pick because that would be a letdown.

I carefully make my way over to the Red line while trying to avoid as much eye contact as possible. I don’t have many friends because no one can really know about me. I let people in, to a certain level, but never anything past that. It has always been casual hello’s in the hall or conversing while working on a project, but never anything really real. That why I care about books so much because that is where I have been able to find all of my friends, inside those pages.

After what seems like an hour, I finally make my way to the front of the line and they confirm my name, hand me my pill, give me some basic instructions just because they have to, and then they ask me who I want to bring to life. That means that it really is my choice. I can bring my favorite character to life. Do I dare? Do I really dare to choose him? I can’t… but I can. This is my pill, for now, why shouldn’t I make it last. We take these pills to remind us about the importance of literature, so why shouldn’t I choose him?

While I am spaced out in my own head the distributor asks me again who I would like to bring to life. I pause for one more second before I gladly tell him that I would like to bring Reese from The Phantom Boy by M. W. Elstein to life. The distributor nods as he writes down my choice. He tells me that all I have to do is say his name along with the book title to bring him to life when I take the pill. From there I am ushered on to go about my day. It is expected that we are to take our pills as soon as possible, so I head home to finish my day off there.

I take the back way home to try and avoid as many people as possible. Even though I hoped I would be okay, this day is always stressful for my family, so I do my best to stay out of the limelight. Going the back way takes a little longer to get home, but it puts my parents at ease and I can’t complain about that.

Once I finally get home, I let out a sigh of relief. I am not as worried as my parents, but today is still always a day full of tension. I message my parents to let them know that I made it home safe, so they don’t worry. I take my time unwinding and making food before I even think about my pill again. I know I need to take it, but I’m wary of taking this new pill. Every time I switch from a different color I always have some kind of side effect. Part of me wants to wait for my parents to come home, but part of me just wants to do it and get it over with.

After about a half an hour of me going back and forth, I finally go up to my room and decide to take my pill. I take a deep breath and swallow my pill and said Reese’s name and the book title. I closed my eyes while I did this because I was nervous to see how this would turn out. Even after a few minutes, I opened my eyes, and still, nothing happened. I guess maybe this pill is one that doesn’t work for me. Oh well, I guess it is what it is.

My parents were coming home late that night, so I had the house all to myself. I needed some time to just relax and not think about anything. Today had been a whole mix of emotions and so I decided to just make some popcorn, kick my feet up and snuggle down on the couch with the dog. I scrolled through channels and found a spooky movie to watch. I didn’t even bother to look at what it was called, it was cheesy and that is all I cared about at this point in the day.

I couldn’t tell you how long I sat on the couch watching cheese spooky films, but it was late and my parents still hadn’t come home yet. I looked at the time on my phone and it was already 11:30 p.m. I should probably head to bed, but it’s not like I have anything to do tomorrow. It was the weekend so no school, work, or homework for me. I started to channel surf when I heard someone say “Wait go back I really liked that.” I slowly turned my head and saw no one there. “Who said that?” “Oh, you can’t see me. One sec.” Just then a boy appeared out of nowhere next to me on the couch and I didn’t know whether to scream, run or talk to him. So I did none of those things, I just stared at him frozen in fear and confusion. “Hello, I’m Reese! And you are?”

Oh my gosh. I couldn’t believe it, it actually worked. The pill actually worked and my favorite character was sitting next to me. I was surprised that it actually still worked, I took my pill hours ago, and usually, the results happen not too long after taking the pill. My side effects haven’t kicked in either, I may be able to take any of the pills, but the downside is I usually end up really sick for a few days.

“Hello? Are you okay? Can you hear me?” Reese said, cutting off my train of thought. I snapped my head to look at him and replied, “Oh yea, sorry I just wasn’t expecting this to actually work. Yet here you are in the real world.” “Yes, I am. You know my name, but what is yours?” “Uh, my name is Enola.” “Well Enola, it is wonderful to meet you,” Reese said as he took my hand in his and placed a gentle kiss on the top of my hand. “I just can’t believe you’re… I started to say as my vision blurred, my hand slid out of Reeses’, and I fell to the ground and passed out. The side effects had hit me and this was the first time I had passed out because of the pills, this Red pill really was a completely different experience.