WASHINGTON, DC—Though already extremely painful, the physical sensation of pain will become markedly greater in the coming months, continuing to rise exponentially throughout 1997, sources say.

According to a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Agony and Suffering, even levels of pain currently considered unbearable will seem mild compared to the beyond-excruciating jolts of pain soon to be endured by Americans throughout the nation.

"Greater pain than ever is on the way," said Erno Broussard, Department of Agony and Suffering spokesperson. "Say, for example, you accidentally step on a thumbtack. In the past, that would have hurt enough to make you hop around the room smarting for several seconds, swearing at the top of your lungs. But under the new, higher pain levels, such an injury will result in a white-hot, blinding sensation of explosive force ripping through your entire body for several hours, as if you were being slowly shredded alive by the multiple razor-arms of murderous, cybernetic death-drones."

"A simple, everyday tension headache," Broussard continued, "will be like having a blunt railroad spike sledge-hammered into your forehead by a drooling, ham-fisted, idiot man-child while your wife and children are shot through the back of the neck gangland execution-style as you watch helplessly."

"A full-blown case of hemorrhoidal flare-up," Broussard noted, "will feel like a 30-megaton thermonuclear device is being detonated deep within your rectal region."

The pharmaceutical industry is mobilizing rapidly in response to the new pain levels, creating substantially more potent over-the-counter painkillers such as SuperMegaBufferin and UltraHyperMaxiMidol. The new drugs will sell for $800-900 a bottle and will be "capable of sedating a team of oxen for several weeks."

Many experts feel that such painkillers, however potent they may be, will ultimately prove ineffective.

"How could any drug possibly fight such pain?" said Pat Curtis of the National Pain Institute. "After all, we're talking about levels of pain where scraping your elbow will feel like a concussion shrapnel grenade is being set off in the center of your brain, causing your eyeballs to feel like they're melting in their sockets while your internal organs rupture into a liquefied state, bursting wetly from every orifice."

According to Pain Institute co-director Barry Eckerd, even non-painful sensations like slipping into a set of silk sheets will be akin to "having all of one's flesh sandpapered directly from the surface areas of the body that are touching the material."

Likewise, hugging a teddy bear, wiping one's closed eyes with a moistened towelette, and smelling fresh bread will evoke being quartered by red-hot iron battle-axes; having your face eaten by rats; and firing an explosive-tipped rocket dart into your sinus cavities, respectively.

Eckerd went on to point out that even listening to him speak, under the new pain levels, would cause any sane man to tear the faces of screaming puppies with his teeth.

"I wish we could say there was something we could all do to prepare for all this," noted pain therapist Eli Wasserbaum said. "Some have suggested using the body's own natural endorphins to create a 'neural-block' of the brain's sensory receptors, or some other such thing. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that's simply impossible. There just isn't any hope of deliverance, for any of us. A nightmarish hellscape of unrelenting, endless agony awaits us all in the very near future."