Its breath smelled like hot garbage with the faintest whiff of medical waste. I felt the waves of its sticky body heat radiating outward as its colossal, unblinking eye gazed into what little there was left of me.
“What… what are you and what are you doing here?”
“C’mon man,” It replied, reaching into its loincloth to retrieve a comically oversized lighter and cigarette pack
“Why even ask those kinds of questions? You know why I’m here.”
“What you mean the…” I coughed while the giant motherfucker blew cloud-sized plumes of smoke directly into my face.
“The shit over there?” I asked pointing to my trash can filled to the brim with thoroughly torn apart Benadryl and triple C boxes.
“Well… fine. Let’s get this over with. What sort of journey is it gonna be this time?”
“It’s more of an origin story.”
“Hmm, interesting… well not so much actually. There isn’t a lot to tell as far as that’s concerned. Not much in my case anyway.”
“There’s more to it than you think. There always is.”
I let out a sigh, let the cyclops grab my hand and started thinking about why I was such a sucker for cough syrup and a whole host of other vices. I thought about the first time I tried that shit and could (quite surprisingly) remember it in vivid detail.
There I was in my college boy dorm room browsing through Psychiatric journals, lying through my teeth in some vain attempt to convince the world that I’d changed. The 700 or so milligrams of DXM I’d just downed notwithstanding. The first faint signs started emerging after the typical carrier wave (a sickening nausea that one must avoid vomiting from at all costs). There was a noticeable shift in my balance. I decided to go out for a smoke. I met up with Keegan, in the smoker’s circle downstairs and we got to talking. The conversation eventually led to the topic of religion
“I’m not sold on any of it. God can’t be omnipotent. You know the whole making a rock he can’t move thing,” his perma-stoned expressionless face was melting, ever so slightly melting.
Keegan looked like a serial killer. White, tall with glasses and an all-around clean cut look which I knew for a fact to be complete and utter bullshit. Nobody can blow through an Opana 40 and a fifth of Xanax sprinkled vodka in a night and walk away unscathed. My best guess was that he’d sold his soul to the devil… who knew what else he was hiding. But despite all of that, I enjoyed his company. I’d always heard that Ted Bundy was a stand-up guy 90 percent of the time.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ve just always felt something separate from myself. I tried hiding from it, burying it but it was always there... Did you know there are 21 grams that disappear when a person dies?” I said lighting a cigarette.
Suddenly in a true Hunter S. Thompson esque moment, it hit me. My movements became rigid. There was noticeable flanging of sounds, voices of passersby and the sound of the rustling wind wriggled and merged in a quasi-sexual motion. My vision became narrow as the blue sky opened up to reveal a lizard-like entity starting down at me (possibly a representation of my reptilian limbic system. Damn our lizard brains, always getting us into trouble). I stood in horror.
“Damn you’re fucking gone man. Be careful,” Keegan replied tossing his cigarette down stomping out what remained of its life.
“Bye Ted.” I said, unable to control my laughter.
I somehow made it back to my dorm, afflicted by the infamous “robo walk” a constricted series of movements akin to advanced Parkinson’s disease. It felt like I was travelling hundreds of miles. My vision filled with a plethora of colors and shapes ranging from psychedelic to cyber-punk. I eventually got my bearings and returned to my room. Some time passed. I started to hear beautifully complex music in the background (auditory hallucinations were a trademark of DXM for me, a winding labyrinth of sound somewhere in between tortured and heavenly… it was all part of the magic), as I made my way out to try and find the source. I then stumbled upon a group of Russian exchange students, eating in the commons area. I was shocked to see this for some reason and then it happened.
I let go of myself completely. My body became for lack of any better word, cosmic. I couldn’t tell if I was a thousand feet above the ground or an inch tall. As my ego dissolved I yelled.
“All of you are me…and I am all of you!”
I was then carried away to a world of closed eye visuals where I met God himself…I guess I was right all along. I had ascended. Feeling as if I had merged with the consciousness of everyone else (as they drank and shouted at each other in crazed demon tones) around me. I took some time to calm down and while walking back to my flat, mistook my very large, very Mexican neighbor for Jesus…Overall, it was one hell of a day.
The Cyclops had vanished (as the hallucinatory whims of a seriously damaged mind tend to). I now found myself in a crowded, dimly lit room. People walked past me at varying paces sometimes stopping to respond to texts and check their emails. The culmination of their footsteps and chatter was deafening then suddenly… it all stopped.
“Hello” I said to no one.
They’d all vanished. I felt the cold, emotionless pavement beneath my feet. Wherever I was had gotten a jump start on the apocalypse. Crumbling skyscrapers and war-time shrapnel filled my eyes shifting away as the sound of a film reel followed by yet another disembodied voice, broke the silence.
“You… have led a life of sin.”
(Well this should be interesting).
“But you have always had hope.”
“Well that’s almost certainly bullshit,” I said under my breath
“It certainly isn’t… find hope. Find hope in the darkest corners… Hope just like the hope you had before death crept in. Just like the hope you after it left. Find this kind of hope again.
An unseen projector shot out streams of light, buzzing to the symphony of a long forgotten home movie.
“Happy New Year,” I whispered taking another shot a Jameson. My head tilting back at the perfect angle. My eyes closing to savor the bittersweet experience (if I was going to drink tonight, I was going to do it as melodramatically as possible).
It’d been a few months. I knew that. Though I hadn’t really been keeping track of the days as of late. A photo of Amy, smiling her impish smile, stared back at me. Motionless and silent on the surface. I knew that underneath it all at the sub-atomic level there was more unbridled fury than this world could handle. Particles appearing, vanishing and colliding with each other creating a collage of shimmering worlds, blinking in and out of existence, destined to be continually reborn and torn apart. I took some comfort in that. In the whole, life going on thing...but only some. Not as much faith as I had in hard liquor anyway.
“I think I’m gonna go back to school. Maybe study psychology. I’ve always liked it, well, the ideas behind it anyway...all the academic shit. It’d be a good way for me to figure out why I’m such a fuck up if nothing else.”
Another shot down the hatch.
“I miss you… really miss you. I think I owe it to you and myself and so many other people to… I don't know, actually do something. I wana get out of this town, get away from all of the demons out there… all of our demons. Just like you always wanted.”
I put the bottle down knocking it over as I grabbed for the well-worn pack of cigarettes on top of my nightstand.
“Happy New Year,” I said again.
I was back in my room. The Explosions in the Sky song (First Breath after Coma maybe?) I’d had on repeat was still playing. There were no Lizard Gods or crowds of imaginary people. Just me, alone with my collection of deformed memories.
“Find hope,” I said to myself.
If only it were that simple…