DMT: The Next Part of the Trip
I'm back, bitches! At least I think I'm back, and if you're reading this then either I am back or we're both teetering on the brink of some really fucked up shit. As Chuck Berry says, "It goes to show you never can tell."
So OK, let's take it from where we left it. We were at this bigass, higher than high tech lab out at Los Alamos and Sheila and I were waiting to go to war. Amanda died to save us and before she did she told us that the only way we could save the world was to go into the eleventh dimension one more time and lead the tall dude and his goblin hoards back through the mouth of hell. Pretty much a regular Saturday night in Albuquerque.
We were scared and quiet and when this government guy named Harold something came into the lab and told us that he worked with Amanda and he appreciated what we're about to do, we didn't say much. Harold was like twenty-three and I think he was created in a computer and dropped into our world. The guy defined dull. Which, given the shit he was about to spew, may have been a really good thing.
Because then Harold, I'm not making this up, or at least I'm pretty sure I'm not, takes out a tray. Two cups of this brown, murky liquid, like coffee cups full of mud tea.
"This is Ayahusaca," he said. "The tribes of the upper Amazon use it in their ceremonies. It's brewed from a vine. It contains a significant amount of DMT, but the indigenous peoples found a way to turn a fifteen-minute experience into one that lasts for hours. We believe that, given that sort of time, you'll be able to go in, to do what you need to do."
It's about then that I realized that something was missing. That incessant beat of monitoring equipment. There's no IVs hung, no heart monitors, none of that. I took the plunge, ask Harold basically, dude, what gives? And so we take the next step down towards hell.
"How much do you know about the concept of parallel universes?" he asked.
"I saw them play once at South by Southwest," I answered. "They could have used a different drummer."
"Basically, we believe that the dimension you've been accessing, the eleventh dimension, exists in parallel to ours. Now, as you know, parallel lines never meet, except at infinity."
I nodded, like, of course I knew that, what do I look like, some college drop-out from a rock band? Harold continued in the kind of dull, TA in a freshman physics class voice that turned me into a college drop-out from a rock band.
"In other words, this dimension does not exist somewhere else, it exists in parallel and therefore, by definition, we can never interface with it. That is what we all believed. Your experiments with Dr. Warren seem to have changed the paradigm. DMT seems, if you will, to facilitate the meeting of parallel lines. This meeting has violated the laws of physics with, as you know, dire consequences. Now, for reasons that we can't even pretend to understand, you two, the only survivors of the group that made this interface, are the only ones who might be able to put the genie back in the bottle."
I raised my hand as if I were in class. I wanted to suggest a reason. He looked at me as if he were calling on me. "He who smelt it dealt it?" I said. Sheila kicked me.
Harold looked at me with the same bland expression. "Your friend, Dr. Warren. He crossed the line, played with cosmic matches. He royally fucked things up. We need you to unfuck it."
Wow, I didn't know he had it in him.
"We're supposed to drink this stuff," Sheila asked, "And then go plug the hole?"
"There's no hole exactly," Harold said, returning to his TA voice, "Because what's happening here is dimensional transfer-the dimensions co-exist, in parallel, DMT fuzzes the line somehow. That's why you see, for example, the eyeless people-you're seeing a manifestation of the eleventh dimension."
"What do we do?" I asked.
"M-Theory tells us that while we cannot see any of the other ten dimensions of our multiverse, we can detect the gravity of something that exists in those dimensions. We've detected gravitational variants centered in the Albuquerque area. They seem to be centered at the University and to be spreading in concentric circles."
"Basically, we're supposed to find these 'gravitational variants,' and pied piper them back to the other side."
"Something like that."
"And you're sending us out into the real world, tripping, no safety net."
"What do you think this is, Avatar? Of course you're going to the real world. There are no demons here in the lab."
I could have argued that point, but in for a dollar, as they say.
Harold gestured to the two cups. "Let's not waste any time. Drink these. I will drive you back to town under escort." He hesitated. "One other thing. As far as we can take our physics, you're going to want to avoid actual, physical contact with any…occupants of the eleventh dimension. Best case scenario. It would destroy you both. Make the actual fact of your ever having existed zero out."
"That Tall Guy and I shake hands, I cease to be or have ever been?"
"We think so."
"But you're not asking either of us to do that?" Sheila said.
"We couldn't do that," Harold said.
I looked at Sheila. She grabbed her cup. "To infinity and beyond," she said. This is what happens when you have children. Your pop culture sensibility collides with the parallel dimension of cartoons.
It was a little over an hour drive back to Albuquerque. Sheila and I sat in the back of an Army car. Harold drove. We held hands and waited.
We came on to the DMT much more slowly from the drink, sort of eased into the nightmare, but by the time we made it to town, we were tripping heavily.
There was a large military presence at the University. Kind of pointless, but I guess you do what you can. Sheila said, "Send in the clowns," and when I looked again, all the soldiers were circus clowns; they had cannons for firing "human cannonballs." Felinesque, my mom used to call it. But let me point out the part you may have missed. Sheila said it and I saw it. We were in the same place, seeing the same thing. Apparently, they have circuses in the eleventh dimension. I wonder if they think clowns are creepy too.
The plan, such as it was-nobody had a clue-was for us to start in the lab and work our way out. I guess, we did have "clues," but that was all we had. That thing Eddie had said about the petro-glyphs. "Not coming out, following something back in." Somehow, we had to lead the armies of darkness back home.
Thing was, we were flying now, in our DMT heads, and that didn't seem any more impossible than anything else. "We're good, Harold," we said. "We'll take it from here." And we walked through the clown soldiers and they parted for us.
We walked across the parking lot where we'd first met and we walked down the long hallway that led to Jack's office and the lab. We opened to door. He was waiting inside.
The tall guy, the slender man. He was sitting under the "Ce n'est pas un Pipe," poster and reading the sports section of the Albuquerque Journal. "Here's the thing I like about baseball," he said. "No clock."
He was darkness. He was night. He was scary as all fuck. He was talking about baseball. He motioned to the two chairs on our side of the desk. "We're going to be a while," he said. "Think of it as another interview. For my experiment."
We looked at each other, Sheila and I. Were we both here? In this same room. With the Man? We were. We sat. He turned to a form on the desk. Picked up a pen.
"Sheila?" he asked. "Do you believe that evil is a relative concept?"
Sheila was stuck. She stammered an "I…"
"It's a simple question. Are the ways of God the ways of man?"
She looked him right in his black eyes. "Yes," she said. "I believe in evil." God, she was awesome.
"You know, we're violating the laws of physics just sitting here. Is that good or evil?" He turned to me.
"It just is," I said.
"Lame, new age bullshit," he said. "Take a position. Your girlfriend did." And he turned those black eyes on me. I didn't have what Sheila had. I choked.
"This parallel thing," he said, "is a head trip. There are theories that go this far. They say that every time you make a decision, you create a parallel universe in which the opposite decision was made. A parallel universe for every time you turn left instead of right. Some would even tell you that if you could access those infinite dimensions, you could get advice from this infinite number of other yous. So, who's to say that you're not simply the parallel you in the bad decision universe going to ask the real you what to do. The mind boggles."
He jotted some notes on our charts. Dark rainbows of purples and midnight blues erupted around his pen. He smiled a little, as if aware of that.
"I would argue," he said, "that evil is a relative concept. One man's meat, etc. Amanda, I think I overheard her talking about entropy. From your perspective, the tendency of all things to fall apart. From God's perspective, the tendency towards perfect order. Every particle in the universe, equidistant from every other. You can't get to an omelet like that without breaking a lot of eggs."
He leaned forward, looked at both of us with those void eyes.
"Yours is a world of unanswered questions. Of suffering and death and the pain that comes from the constant striving of those particles towards equilibrium. Mine is a world that, to put it in simple terms, feeds on your pain. Every once in a while, some idiot tries to make sense of the human condition. The lines converge and in I come. That's all I am. Equilibrium. The lord of balance." He glanced at the poster behind him. "That, by the way, is a pipe."
He sat back in Jack's chair. "So," he said. "What do we do now?" He didn't wait for us to answer.
"It's a battle. We can't both be in the same place at the same time. It's you guys versus me. It never ends. I don't like it any better than you do. Same old, same old. Big fish eats the little fish. Bad things happen to good people. Cells multiply madly, ask your stepfather about his cancer."
Somewhere, far away, a cell phone was ringing. It made the color shimmers dancing off of everything dim for a moment, as if every day reality were trying to push its way through. "It's that guy, Harold. He just got off the phone with Los Alamos. They can't find your daughter." He raised his voice now, the way you talk to a drunk. "Can you hear me, Sheila? Your daughter's gone. She's with me now. Hide and seek." The phone rang again. "Go ahead," he said. "Answer it."
Sheila did. All the color drained from the room as she said, "Hello." I could hear Harold's voice.
"We've got some major gravitation flux showing right now in the lab. Can you tell me what's going on in there?"
"Ask him about Sarah," the tall guy said.
"Have you had a call about my daughter?" Sheila asked. She sounded stone cold sober.
There was a long, long silence. The tall guy opened one of Jack's drawers and he took out a deck of cards. He fanned them out to me. "Pick a card," he said. I didn't move. "I said, pick a card."
You know, there was dream logic involved here. I picked a card. Jack of spades.
"Have you had a call?" Sheila asked again.
"Put your card back in the deck," he told me.
I did. He shuffled the deck. "A call?" Sheila said again. The tall guy shuffled and shuffled and then he pulled out a card. Showed it to me. The ace of hearts.
"Is this your card?" he asked.
"No," I answered. He shrugged.
"Have you had a call?" Sheila asked.
And then, finally, Harold said, "Yes."
That was all. Sheila dropped her phone and leapt across the table at the tall guy. She was the lift-the-car-off-your-kid mom she'd said she was. But of course, he was gone and she landed on the floor and lay there in a heap, sobbing, while I floated up to the ceiling.
Yeah, I was high and here, I mean literally. You know, when people talk about a near-death experience, or any kind of out-of-body thing and they say they were above themselves, looking down on their bodies. There I was, on the ceiling, looking at me sitting on one side of the desk and Sheila, on the floor on the other side. I willed myself to think to her, "Come on, let's go get Sarah." I thought it and I saw my thoughts as a magenta light and so did Sheila I guess because she looked up at me. And then we were flying.
Come into our point of view for a moment. Pull up and away from reality. Look at a city, even a grim and pointless place like this, from above. Be a pigeon, be a hawk, be a god. Things look different when you look down on them. They make a different kind of sense. We swooped, we hovered, we dove. We looked in on all the bad things that we happening. All the sad and pointless evenings. All the loneliness and anger. All the envy and bitterness. Wave upon wave of confusion and hopelessness rose up at us like heat when you open an oven door. It was like Mr. Tall telling us over and over again, "Yours is a world of unanswered questions. Of suffering and death and pain." We saw that. Saw an old man dragged into an alley by some vicious kids, saw a lonely teenage girl cooking herself a meth fix, saw hospital beds full of agony, saw couples fighting, and we saw smaller things too, things that weren't tragic, that were almost worse for being just the mundane sadness of the day to day. People at their computers alone, watching TV alone, eating alone, sleeping alone. A bird's eye view of bummer, that's what we saw. And all of it was as if we were searching, looking for Sarah. Because, on the wind, up here above it all, we could hear her, crying for her mother.
It ended with us downtown. We were on First Street and we were all alone. And there was writing on the wall of a deserted building. But the writing, this time, didn't say, "He's coming." It said, "He's here."
We're on the street. A psychedelic version of a street we both know. An eleventh dimension version of that street. We can hear Sarah, calling, crying for her mom. Sheila looks at me and she says, "What do we do now?"
And I say, "We get on the bus."
Because up the street, by Lead Avenue, I've just seen a long line of people, waiting to board a bus at the Greyhound Station. And maybe you've guessed who these people were. The Mouths. The grey ones.
I take Sheila's hand and we start up the street. We're walking now, not flying, and everything has become hyper-real. The sound of our footsteps on the empty street, wet from a recent rain. The way the light shines off the wet cement. The way the mouths are boarding the bus, quietly, not a sound, just shuffling on.
We take out place in the line. Keep our heads down. They don't have eyes, just the red slit mouths, but we don't know; can they sense us? It's pure terror, walking onto that bus. And here's the thing. If we get away with it, if none of the mouths starts screaming, then we're on the bus. And what, exactly, is so good about that?
And that's exactly what happens. We're on the bus. The last two seats, us and eighty-some Mouths. And the bus pulls out of the station. No one driving. Of course. Why would there be? I look at Sheila. She's got her eyes closed. Trying to hear Sarah? Praying? I don't know.
Then she turns to me, and her eyes are gone. There's just a mouth. Her mouth. And I know, I'm the same. I'm grey. I'm a Mouth and then, I don't know anything more.
We worked on the machine for a thousand years. That enormous machine. Sitting, side-by-side in an endless row among endless rows with all the other mouths. I can't really describe this part of my experience because the "I" who would describe it had ceased to exist. There was maintaining the machine. Keeping it going. And it felt endless, infinite in the worst possible sense of the word.
But then, after we'd been there forever, I heard something over that rumble of the machine, and what I heard was Sarah, crying for her mom. And the sound was, I don't know, "real" is the only way I can think of it, real. And when I looked at Sheila, she was looking at me. And when I say looking, I mean with her eyes. They were back and they were full of tears.
And that's when the Mouths all turned on us again, just as they had in my last DMT fueled visit to the factory. Turned and let out that wail of despair.
Only this time, it was as if the wail itself lifted us and we were running, running down endless hallways, away from the wail, and towards Sarah.
And then, we were outside the University, the parking lot. The military was set up, right where we'd left them. The barricades, soldiers. Waiting for the end of the world. This is drugs we're talking about here, so maybe what really happened, that is what happened in our dimension, was that Sheila and I walked back outside from Jack's office. Thousand years, a minute and a half, take your pick. We were back out front, and it looked like no time at all had passed.
Harold was talking to some men in suits and some men in uniform. His car was right where he'd left it. "In her drawing," I thought to Sheila, "Sarah drew him standing in an archway. It looked like your apartment."
Sheila nodded. We got into Harold's car and drove away.
I would not recommend driving on DMT, if you've got other options. It's hard to tell where the road is when it's a vibrating rainbow. Are you going to hit that truck that's coming at you, playing the pretty honking song, or dance with it? That cloud is talking to me, think I better turn up the radio.
I managed to get us onto the highway and headed towards. Sheila's. We passed the Cutler off-ramp. San Mateo. Central.
A car honked, passing us. We looked over. Dr. Warren was driving. Amanda next to him. They waved. Sure, why not? We saw the others too. Darryl, Burton, Norman, driving an old Impala convertible. My stepfather. The kid who'd cut his privates off. All the dead people. "Stairway to Heaven," "Highway to Hell?" You decide.
For me, the parade of dead people was less of a distraction than the strange plants growing along the roadside. I mean literally growing before me eyes. There were weird machines under the plants. I heard a babble of alien languages all speaking at once. "Newspaper taxis." Right? But the plants were dark, smothering vines and the machines under them were sinister and that babble of alien voices was like the wordless choir in an exorcism movie only playing twice as loud and out of tune and the people driving past us were dead and the colors were crying and this was Dumbo in the Mud with Tumors.
And then we passed the Cutler off ramp again. Then San Mateo, then Central. To be post-ironic, my band used to cover some late Elvis Presley songs. And like the King said, late in his career, "Were caught in a trap…"
Sure enough, out the window, the same dead people, driving by. The plants growing over the machines. Cutler. San Mateo. Central. Cutler. San Mateo. Central.
I turned to say something to Sheila and she was gone. I was sitting next to the tall dude. He smiled, which, in case I haven't mentioned this, made me feel as if I was disappearing, a cold that started in my gut and burned its way out until all I was nothing but empty, and he said, "One thing I like about DMT," he said. "No clock."
And we were in Jack's office, with Tallie fanning out the cards and Sheila going, "Did you get a call?" And we were flying over the city and waiting in line to get on the bus and on the highway. Cutler. San Mateo. Central. Cutler. San Mateo. Central. And there was a truck coming right at us and its horn was blaring and I jerked the wheel and we went up onto the embankment of the I-40 where weird dark plants were growing and there were machines.
I woke up in a bed at University Hospital at UNM. Jack and Amanda were both at my bedside. It seemed that I'd had some sort of adverse reaction to the DMT dose I'd been given in their experiment. My heart had stopped. They'd brought me here. Jack had never seen anything like it. The other volunteers were fine. He was hoping that my reaction had been some sort of anomaly and that he'd be able to continue the experiments. Obviously, I would not be able to continue working with him. "But. I'm curious," he said, "to know about any experience you might have had while you were under."
"Nothing much," I said. "Colors, sounds, a sense of well-being."
He looked at me, as if he thought I was holding back. But I wasn't holding back. That was what I remembered the experience being.
They let me go two days later. They were generous to me, paid me for the entire experiment, even though I'd only taken the one dose. I spent a few days not doing much of anything. I'd just made my rent for six months. I didn't have to sell toner cartridges for a while. I could kick back. Maybe I'd write some songs, get the band together, take one more shot at the brass ring.
Only thing was, I had this blank feeling. That's the only way I know how to describe it. Like I was on a treadmill. Like all my days were the same day. I started to look for what I was missing. By that I mean, I'd be out for coffee someplace, there'd be a mom with her kid at another table. They'd seem to mean something to me. I'd feel a yearning; I wanted to be a part of their lives.
And there was the time, I was downtown by the bus station, I saw a line of people waiting to get on a bus. And it scared me. Scared me so badly that I turned and started to run.
I'd been like this for I don't know how long. Weeks, months. Like I said, the days were all the same day, and a thought came to me that maybe this had something to do with the bad experience I'd had the one time I'd taken DMT. I broke the loop of my days and went up to the University.
I explained to a woman at a desk that I had been a part of an experiment conducted by Dr. Jack Warren and that I'd very much like to speak to him about my experience. She told me that there was no one named "Warren" on the university faculty. As she said that, I knew that she was right. She asked me if I was sure of the name and I said that I wasn't. She asked me what the nature of the experiment had been but I couldn't remember.
It was in the parking lot that I saw her. She was sitting in her car, parked next to mine. She looked so familiar. She was sitting, staring through her windshield. I took a chance, got back out of my car, rapped on her window.
"I'm sorry," I said. "Do we know each other?"
Her name was Sheila. She said that she thought I looked familiar too.
"Look," she said. "This is gonna sound weird, but do you want to come over? I'll make you a cup of tea."
"I'd like that," I said.
"Can we take your car?" she asked. "I don't feel like driving."
She lived in Alte Monte. An old Spanish fourplex. Beautiful arched doorways between the rooms. That stood out to me right away. It was a great apartment, but it seemed empty. Not unlived in, exactly, but untended. As if something were missing.
"What were you doing at the University?" I asked her when she'd brought in the tea.
"I don't really know," she said, embarrassed. "I went up there to ask about something. I can't remember. What about you?"
"We have a lot in common," I said. "Besides the part where I feel like I know you. What do you do?"
"I haven't worked in a while," she said. "I have a little money put away. I keep… I feel like there's something I'm forgetting. Something really important that I'm supposed to do."
It was a cold day and it had started to rain. The tea was warm and I remember thinking how beautiful the steam coming up off the cup was. It was the sort of day that shimmered around the edges.
"Did you see that," Sheila asked. A purple glow, but when you turned to see it, it was gone.
"Do you want to stay for dinner?"
I stayed for dinner. We were some comfortable together, like two people who had been a couple for a while. The rain got heavier. We didn't see the purple glow again but we had a sense of something, just out of reach, just out of sight.
"Do you feel sometimes as if your life is just one endlessly repeating day?" She asked me after dinner.
"I feel like I'm on the I-40, going past the same three exits, over and over again."
She nodded. "How do we get off?" she asked.
I shook my head.
"I think you should spend the night," she said.
She had two bedrooms. The first was unused. There was a bed in there, a single bed, like in a kid's room. Nothing else, just the arched doorway on far side that led to a closet I guess, and this empty bed.
"This room makes me feel lonely," she said. "I mean, I think I'm a lonely person anyway, but, having this empty bedroom. It's so sad, don't you think?"
"It's breaking my heart," I said. I meant it.
She turned to me then. We were standing very close. I could taste her breath. "What do you think is happening to us?"
"I don't know. Something."
That's me, always right there with the brilliant answer. But then, we were kissing and whatever else was happening to us, that part was right.
"Not here," she said. She led me into her bedroom. As we fell onto her bed, I had the sense of that glow all around me. It was warm and welcoming and there was nothing frightening about it at all. Then she slid out of her pants and I slid out of mine and we were in that glow, a part of it, and neither of us was thinking about anything at all.
"Motherfucker!" Sheila said. She sat bolt upright and pushed me away.
All I could see was her back. I had a bad feeling, like she was going to turn to me then and be someone, or something else. I don't know why I had that horror movie thought. Maybe cause one minute you're making love in a warm glow and the next minute, the woman's pushing you away and shouting "Motherfucker." That could do it. And then, I heard it, the sound of a little girl, crying, calling for her mom.
"Do you hear that?" I asked.
Sheila turned to me. She was Sheila and she was crying. "Her name is Sarah," she said. "She's my daughter."
We had broken the loop. We'd done it with love. Sorry, I don't mean to go all Steven Spielberg on your ass here, but looking back, that's as good an explanation as I can offer. We had found each other again in spite of everything, and we had come together again and that was a shout in the darkness, a rage against the machine, a "Motherfucker," to the tall guy. It came pouring in from the glow. Who we were and what we'd done and what we were still supposed to do.
I pulled my pants back on. "Let's not take any more of his shit," I said.
"Not your best tough guy line," Sheila answered. "But the sentiment is spot on." She pulled her own pants on.
Then the babble started. Imagine thousands of voices, thousands of different languages, all talking at once. Chanting at once. About misery and helplessness. Imagine a music so devastatingly sad it could literally break your heart.
Sheila saw them first. They were at the windows. The Mouths. Thousands of them. As far as we could see in every direction. And then, they started to leak through the walls.
I mean they just came through. And, as I told you before, they drained you. Made you weak. Made you one of them.
"We have to get to Sarah's room," I said. "Remember her drawing. We have to get them back the arch."
That walk to the other bedroom was the longest walk I ever took. I don't know how we did it. The Mouths were pouring in now. Chanting their death chant, sucking all life, all energy. God, I bet the gravity measuring devices Harold and his crew were monitoring were redlining like crazy. I could feel my eyes starting to, I don't know exactly, cover up with flesh. Disappear. Sheila's face was blurring too. But all the while, Sarah was calling, and we've already talked about that mother-love thing and Sheila shouted, "You give me back my daughter!" and, pulling me with her, we made it into Sarah's room.
It get's even weirder here. We were looking at both rooms at once. At the empty room with the empty, sheetless bed and at Sarah's room, full of her things and with the Justin Bieber poster turned into a dartboard that I'd thought was so awesome the first time I'd seen it. Obviously, you can't let a kid that cool go. The images of the two realities fought each other. It was electronic, like stations cutting in and out on an old TV.
Then I saw her, Sarah, lying on the floor, in the archway. She had her arms out and she was calling to her mom. She was locking in and out too, like the dueling rooms. And it looked like all this dimensional shift stuff was hurting her and terrifying her. On the far side of the archway was, well - Nothing. The void. The other side.
Sheila started across the room for her daughter. There was nothing, I'm telling you this with absolute certainty, there was NOTHING that could have stopped her then.
As she picked Sarah up, there was a glow of light around them. Warm, blue and beautiful. They stood there, embraced by this light. And then, to offset that new-age moment, there was a terrible scream from behind us. A roar of fury that even a Norwegian crunkcore band couldn't capture in their dreams.
I turned around. Stupid thing to do. The world behind me had dissolved. There was an endless army of the Mouths, I mean, the plains of Mordor time. They were drawn to the mother-daughter light, to the love, like moths to a flame. Their cries were sorrowful now, full of envy and longing. And rising up behind them, that vision of darkness and despair, Mr. Tall. He was the one doing the screaming. It washed over his minions in a wave. He was royally pissed off.
The sight of this, my glimpse across the veil, into the eleventh, whatever, rooted me to the spot. I simply could not move.
Sheila and Sarah were shouting for me now. "Come on! Hurry up!" The Tall Guy was gaining. The arch they were under was all that was left of our world. And it was starting to crumble.
"You guys go!" I said. And I turned to face him. And I wasn't scared. Not scared at all. Because all that I wanted was for Sheila and Sarah to make it through that archway. I don't think I've ever so purely and totally cared about something other than myself. Yeah, Buddha, I wasn't afraid. Because I was now selfless-and because I had a plan.
Remember how Harold said that worlds collide. Don't let him touch you. You will cease to exist, all that? Well, it occurred to me that that was just what Mr. Tall wanted to do, reach out and touch someone. Fuck things up as big-time as he knew how.
"Get out of the way," I said to Sheila. "Out of the archway."
He was coming for me. His army was reaching out. So much for a Pied Piper. How about bait? They were coming for me. I took a running jump through the archway into oblivion.
I woke up in a bed at University Hospital at UNM. Sheila and Sarah were both at my bedside. So was Harold. He was with a couple of government types and a colonel.
"This one's real?" I asked Sheila.
"Near as I can tell."
"We want to thank you," the Colonel said. "On behalf of your country."
I looked at Sheila again.
"They followed me through?"
"With mouths wide open," she said with a smile.
"Of course," the Colonel said, "our thanks can never go any farther than this room."
"I'm cool with that," I said. "Could you people leave me alone now," I took Sarah and Sheila's hands. "I want to be with my family."
And that's pretty much it. The end of my squirrelly story. I told you up front, it wasn't gonna wrap up in a bow, and I warned you that it was about curiosity gone bad. Maybe I also should have told you that it was a bit of a mind-warp, eleven dimensions and parallel universes and evil as a principle of physics. I mean, you're probably saying, did any of this happen, or was it just a bad trip? Well Sheila and Sarah will tell you that it happened, and all the people who died are really dead and that should be answer enough to your question.
What exactly was it all about? Who was that tall man, what did he want? There's a scientific explanation that you could get from Harold if he'd talk to you, which he won't. There's a more spiritual explanation too, although I think we've reached the point where science and spirituality have simply got to form an uneasy alliance. The Mouths. I have my own theories about despair and hopelessness, but maybe we'll never know anything more exact than that. Maybe we don't want to know.
Look, I don't believe in hell even though I've been there. I don't believe in hell or demons or the devil, but people must have gotten their ideas of all of that from somewhere. There is evil in this world, and there's a balance that keeps us going, and sometimes a mother's love can lift more than just cars. That's pretty much where I come out, and I'm cool with that, too.
Are we safe? Were we ever? Is that other world still there? I'm sure it is. Will it bleed back through? Let me tell you a story.
The night after I threw Harold and the fellas out of my hospital room, I was back at Sheila's. We'd just put Sarah to bed and we were heading back into Sheila's room. We had, I'd just pointed out to her, some unfinished business we needed to get to.
I was lying down on her bed. She was in the bathroom. I was straightening out the pillows when I felt something under one of them. I took it out. It was a playing card. I turned it over, although I already knew what card it was going to be. The jack of spades. A one eyed jack. It might just as well have winked at me, and for just a moment, on the wind, I heard a lot of voices.
About the Author
Les Bohem was a screenwriter. As reported on these pages earlier, he disappeared in early 2010 after volunteering for some medical experiments. This follow up to his last story (DMT) appeared in a blind email sent to Popcorn Fiction. It is not known whether Les wrote the story before his disappearance and posted the email to arrive when it did, or if he is living somewhere off the grid and still writing. Maybe he put the band back together...