“Try this,” the voice says, handing me a pipe.
Already I can see the flame rise and fall, dancing. I wonder if I am not already affected by the strange substance that slowly crackles, burning within the tiny bowl.
“Try it, draw deeply,” I am urged. So, without question, I do.
I suck long and hard and feel the flame dancing inside of me. A private show so close that I can hear the tiny fires singing my favorite song. Radiohead drones melodically from the lounge room gramophone, but that is not the noise buzzing in my brain. My brain hums a different tune. It buzzes along with the dancing flame. I think perhaps it is better that I don’t draw again from the pipe still stuck between my lips. But, as the smoke kisses me back, I discover I have to taste more, steal more. I discover I cannot help but want more. More love, more life, more of the strangeness, the wickedness, and joy. It is not so much addictive, not like the drugs I know. It feels more as if it is a discovery of things previously inexperienced, but now… This feeling is now a part of me, a part which I can never be able to be without.
“Give it back,” I am told. “You’ve had your share.”
I hear the sounds of scolding, a berating that I now know will never end, for I cannot—will not—give back this feeling that is me, the new me. The me that I was always supposed to be.
When they come to take the pipe away from my lips, I hit back at them, strike out, cry out, beg, and scream; a deeply primal growl comes up and out from my very soul. In the scuffle, black feathers fly. I have become—no, I discover that I have always been— a crow, a raven, a bird of the dark. Dark feathers, dark thoughts, a dark message floating through my mind.
I look around the lounge room and, for the first time, I truly see the others. I see just how it is that they see me, and I know that they know what I see.
I have to get out. I have to get away, to test that my wings are now fully healed. I need to see that the smoke has done its job on my mind and my body. I have to know if the smoke has fulfilled its task and made me whole again.
“I’m out,” I say, and ignore the baying of the pack.
Whinging and whining, groveling, begging that I leave the pipe behind.
If they want it so badly, then they should just take it. Take it away, just as I have taken myself away. Away from the threat of the worms and the bugs and the earth. Ash to ash, but for all those who take to the sky.
I cry out to the night and then aim for the stars. The lights, they shine and guide my way. I flap my black feathered arms and slowly I rise. Higher and higher I go until I find myself there. I am at that perfect place where elation and excitement meet. That place where the ancient meets the future, and the future rediscovers the ancient that never went away. It is the place where the eldritch dwells amongst the ether. It is the place of knowing the unknown, new knowledge is revealed to me.
I am lost in the realm, happily lost where my mind is no longer my own. I can no longer go back. I know not how. I have lost the way.
“Try this, draw deeply,” I say to you.
I know you; I know you are ready.
You take the pipe from my offering hands. I watch, I smile. The flame dances, and I can see your mind opening.
“Welcome,” I say. “Welcome to reality.”