Thursday, October 23, 2014

Telepathic Dragon

Marlee (16) was living in a boarding house on Blague Street when she and her best friend Rebecca tried Telepathic Dragon for the first (and only) time. Rebecca (15) still lived with her mom and dad.
    “So, what’s in this stuff, exactly?” Rebecca asked. She was sitting on Marlee’s bed, drinking a sweating bottle of Coors.
     Marlee sat Indian-style on the floor, unfolding a crumpled ball of tinfoil, a homemade hookah between her legs. “It’s a combination of stuff. I’m not sure exactly...”
     “You really think it’ll work?”
     Marlee shrugged. “Not sure. It’s supposed to.”
     “We’ll be able to read each other’s minds?”
     “Supposedly. That’s what Dave-Doug told me.”
     “This is so exciting.” Rebecca finished her beer, plucked another from the cooler at the foot of Marlee’s bed.
     Marlee finished packing the bowl with a granular, greenish-brown substance. “You ready?”
     “Just a sec.” Rebecca took a long sip of beer and then sat across from Marlee. She tucked her legs into the lotus position.
     “I wish I could sit like that,” said Marlee.
     “It just takes practice.”
     “Doesn’t it get uncomfortable after a while?”
     “No, not at all. I sit like this all the time.”
     “I wish I could. Gimme your lighter.”
     Marlee placed the end of a brown, resinous rubber tube into her mouth, clicked a flame over the bowl and inhaled. The water in the glass canister bubbled.
     The smoke hit her lungs like burning ice and she had to fight against coughing it free.
     She passed the tube to Rebecca. Her eyes were watering.
     Rebecca inhaled. A veteran stoner, she managed to keep the smoke down without effort.
     Marlee exhaled, then held another flame over the bowl and took another hit.
     Rebecca let out her smoke. “How much are we supposed to dew? Dew you feel anything yet?”
     Marlee shrugged, passed the tube back to her girlfriend.
    A ripping sound erupted behind Marlee, like a thousand sheets of paper being torn apart at once and Rebecca said, “What the fuck was that?”

      “I don’t know,” Marlee said. Her words stretched out in slow-motion, like warm putty, thickening in the air, sagging and hanging until they stopped making sense, changing from language to mass to liquid to vapor, evaporating above their heads.
     Whoa, dude... one of them thought.

     The room had expanded outward; walls and ceiling disappearing into black space. Yet they were still enclosed. They sat under a dome of thick viscous liquid shadow that dripped and oozed dark matter above their heads, mixing with the doughy thoughts that floated from their crackling brains.
     Marlee looked at Rebecca. Rebecca’s eyes were glittery and shooting jewels. She was surrounded by a halo of yellow light. Marlee swallowed and her mouth was full of warm, exquisite nectar – like honey and oranges and sunlight and Rebecca said, “You taste good.”
     A swarm of bright red dots were whirling around them, humming like bees. Rebecca may have said, “What are those?”
     Marlee: Will they sting us?
     Rebecca: I don’t know.
     They both realized they were not speaking out loud.
     A little girl in a yellow dress stood by a rusty swing-set. Behind her was a small blue house. An overgrown lawn of crabgrass and dandelions surrounded her. An airplane silently passed overhead leaving a churning rainbow trail. A dog expressed confusion and fear in short chopped barks far in the distance. The little girl smiled at Marlee and waved.
     Rebecca said, That’s me.
     Wow, Marlee thought.
     I know, said Rebecca. I’m so small.
     Rebecca felt someone touch her left shoulder. She turned. Marlee was beside her now. But she was also across from her.
     “I’m behind you,” Marlee said.
     Rebecca felt another hand on her right shoulder. It was Marlee too.
     “You’re everywhere...”
     “So are you.”
     A bubbling milky liquid began to seep up from the floor. It was warm and smelled of lilac.
     Rebecca: “What is this stuff?”
     Marlee passed Rebecca a wet orange cube that meant: I think it’s us.
     The milky liquid had risen to their hips, embracing them in warm folds that moved and undulated like the bottomless stir of the ocean.
     When it reached their shoulders, Rebecca thought, How do we breathe?
     Marlee: We don’t.
    When the substance rose over their mouths, the first tugs of panic began. They held their breath, closed their eyes.
     I’m here...

     The universe had become an empty white void.
     And they were warm and complete and together.
     They had become one Voice. A musical voice they could taste and feel and see. A sound that echoed and reverberated across time and the universe, merging with the aftersong of the Big Bang. All of creation captured in a single musical note the size of a snowflake.
      This miraculous effect lasted a long time.
      And then the Fear began.

It took Marlee and Rebecca almost two days to recover from the traumatic brain-warp of the Telepathic Dragon. Their thoughts were bb’s rolling around the smooth deck of a deserted ship on choppy seas; mingling, colliding with tight metallic snaps. Memories and forecasts, fears and remembered pleasures rolled from one mind to the other and back, accruing new residue with each revolving return from the other’s mind, mixing their lives together. The puzzle pieces of their pasts and identities were in a jumbled flux neither on them could sort out anymore.
     They were in Marlee’s bed, holding onto each other, convinced that gravity was trying to pull them apart and send them spinning into space.
     They’d secured a sheet to the top of the headboard to form a tent, shutting out the mad menace of the world. This small, simple act had taken over three hours - just formulating the plan made their thoughts flop and teeter like heavy, awkward concepts that kept dissolving to nothingness.
     “Okay, we’ll make a thing.”
     “A shelter?”
     “What’s that?”
     “I don’t know.”
     “Me either.”
     “We’ll use the sheet.”
     “To do what?”
     “I don’t know...”
     “I don’t either...” And so forth for hours.
     So, that’s why it took them so long to make the bedsheet tent.
     “I have to pee again,” said Rebecca now. “I’m gonna try and leave the room this time.”
    “Don’t go,” said Marlee, pulling her closer. “Please.”
    “I have to...”
     They’d been surviving on beer and stale saltines for a day and a half, marooned like shipwrecked children in Marlee’s room. The bathroom was down the hall, several dangerous miles away; a path fraught with strange peril. They’d been urinating in an old motorcycle helmet they’d found in Marlee’s closet, pouring their pee out the window when it got full.
     But now Rebecca was sure she’d finally worked up the courage to venture down the hall to the bathroom.
     They’d passed out for a short period during the Telepathic Dragon trip and when they’d regained consciousness the sun was starting to come up, filling the room with new, illuminated nightmares.
     They’d both lost their language.
     Rebecca was the first to try to say something but her words came out jumbled and nonsensical. It was like listening to a foreign tongue and Marlee was terrified they’d never be able to communicate (at least verbally) again.
     “Blickenshines ov benurkensheens. Glormpin vleet shruck sporkendeens...” was what Rebecca sounded like.
     They both spent a long time crying.
     “Benurkingroop, sloogenheep!”
     Hours later Rebecca said, “Do you understand me yet?” And Marlee’s cries of despair turned to sobs of relief. “Yes!”
     “I’m going to go to the bathroom this time,” Rebecca repeated, more to convince herself than Marlee, who was looking up at her with sad, pleading eyes.
     “Don’t. Please stay here with me. I need you here, with me.”
     “But I have to go really bad.”
     “Go in the helmet.”
     “I can’t, Marlee. I can’t do that anymore.” Rebecca pushed herself away from Marlee and rolled out of the bed, the tent.
     “Don’t look in the bathroom mirror,” Marlee warned her.
     They’d made the mistake of looking into the mirror above Marlee’s bureau yesterday. And then they spent a terrifying hour covering the glass on Marlee’s dresser with towels; trying to do it blindly, groping, avoiding the monstrous reflections inside the wooden frame and screaming every time a towel slipped off the bureau and revealed the hideous grotesques they’d become.
     “I’ll be right back,” Rebecca said from outside the tent.
Marlee closed her eyes and held her breath and listened for the dreaded door latch, the turn of the knob, the awful creak of the hinges.
     Nothing, for what seemed like a long time.
     She exhaled. “Rebecca?”
     There was a prolonged delay before Rebecca answered, “Yeah?” in a tiny voice.
     “What’s going on?” Marlee whispered and her heart began to race with fear again. Were these horrible feelings ever going to stop?
     “I can’t leave.”
     “So, come back to bed.”
     “But I have to pee.”
     “So, go in the helmet.”
     “I can’t.”
     “Why not?”
     Marlee heard the latch release like a rifle shot and she tensed again.
     Nothing, for what seemed like a long time.
     No answer.
     Eventually: “I didn’t make it.”
     “I peed myself,” Rebecca said with a sob and began to cry.
     Marlee climbed out of bed to help her girlfriend.
     “Come here, sweetie...”
     Marlee gave her a shivery sponge bath, using a hand towel and the melted ice-water from the cooler. Seeing poor naked Rebecca crying and shaking made Marlee’s heart dissolve into a thin trickle with a pulse.  Her bloodstream felt cold and slow and melancholy.

After Rebecca got cleaned up, they crawled back into the safety of the tented bed. Rebecca was still crying. Marlee kissed her. “It’s okay baby. We’re getting better.”
     “I don’t feel better.”
     “Yes you do. We both do. We just have to wait it out. We’ll be normal again soon, I promise.”
     Rebecca sniffled, still not convinced.
     “You want another beer?” Marlee asked.
     “No. It’ll just make me have to pee again.”
     “Well, I’m getting one. I need to get drunk. I need to pass out. I want to get through this crazy shit as painlessly as possible.” Marlee turned over and crawled to the foot of the bed and grabbed a warm bottle of beer. There were five bottles left.
     “Grab me one too,” said Rebecca.
     Marlee did.
     And then Rebecca’s distraught parents showed up with the police. She was 48 hours past her curfew.

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