Just Another Magic Mushroom Cloud

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

As strange as it seemed, the road less traveled had become so congested that it was nearly impossible to get where you felt you should be going. Sam Fischer had been tirelessly looking for an exit ramp as he found himself suffocating among those who would be equally lost no matter what road they traveled. It wasn’t always like that though, I mean one day everything just changed. It happened all at once really, and there was absolutely no time to prepare. One minute he was out there, wandering in and out of the doors of perception and sailing across the topographic oceans, and in the next he found himself all dark and broody in a universe he was no longer able to understand. On that night of magic mushrooms and The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, he discovered that Sam Fischer was dead, an apparent victim of psyche suicide. And in the emptiness created when Sam catapulted himself into a black hole and exploded into a gazillion pieces spread out across a million parsecs of space, Arlo Cool emerged. It was as good a name as any I suppose, considering Thelonious Monk had already been taken.

We were all comfortably high the night he crossed that point of no return, and in some higher level of consciousness that propelled him through a series of unforgettable hallucinations and gave rise to his very essence, Arlo Cool discovered that he no longer had any use for Sam Fischer. Everyone seemed quite concerned about Sam’s demise, but I was pretty sure that he was still in there, somewhere. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen that kind of thing, I mean there was a guy I knew in school who disappeared regularly. Every now and again he’d go missing for short periods of time without ever really going anywhere, leaving somebody else to take his place in the parade. One day he left and that was that. He returned years later with a head full of chlorpromazine and a souvenir tee shirt from his stay at the Merriman Sanatorium and Country Club.

Once it happened, they always believe that they were some kind of super hero, but I wasn’t so sure, I mean they were nothing like the ones I knew from Metropolis, Gotham or Capital City. Arlo Cool was certain that he was destined for heroics, but it was far more likely to simply be the effects of the hallucinogens, I mean weird shit goes on in your head when you’re fucked up on psilocybin, but I suppose its hard to know the difference when you’re frantically trying to stop the pterodactyls circling overhead from belting out another chorus of Grand Funk’s ‘We’re An American Band’.

“I don’t think it was suicide.” Tate said. “Sam wouldn’t do that.” He may have been right I suppose, but I didn’t believe for one minute that Sam Fischer was immune to the darkness that might very well cause someone who would never do that to do exactly that. I don’t suppose any of us ever really are, I mean its always far more complicated and a bit more sinister than that, but I guess anything was possible. I really didn’t have a fucking clue, I mean none of us did.

Sam had been a fan of Osmosis Jones, the founder of  Bio-Essence Transcendentalism. He said it was science, but it always sounded more like science fiction. It was a cult really, but it seemed to lack that element of fanaticism that’s required for cult status. We never realized just how unhappy he was, but bio-essence transcendentalism seemed to give him whatever he was looking for. Jones stated that he was able to separate himself from his physical being at will, and soar effortlessly across the astral plane. He believed that the soul was the essence of all life, but while attached to a physical being it is nothing more than a significantly disturbed entity with no limit to its capacity for delusion. He proposed that what we call mental illness was simply the soul’s response to the chaos inherent in a meaningless, physical existence. “Religion” he had said “is a poison responsible for the death of far more souls than it has ever saved. There is no salvation to be found in the rituals and tenets that were created by men in order to explain the unexplainable. Not one single soul has ever been saved through prayer or atonement simply because there’s no one there to listen.”  He was certain that there was no God. He believed that the extra-terrestrial travelers who had visited earth millennia  ago had simply been misunderstood by the spiritually and cognitively limited inhabitants of this planet.  He was convinced that to free ourselves, we needed to separate body and mind from the essence. Sam was certain that Jones was right, and I suppose he could have been , I mean I had no idea really, but it certainly didn’t sound any crazier than all of the other shit I’d been told over the years. And if Sam had chosen to take that plunge into the black hole, I suppose he was better off, I mean after spending time in the sanatorium with chlorpromazine coursing through his veins, he wouldn’t really be Sam anymore, anyway.

Sometime during ‘The Morning Will Come’,  the effects of the psilocybin began to intensify again, and Arlo Cool found it almost impossible to hold onto himself. He drifted in and out of time and space and none of us could really be sure if he was who he said he was, anymore. Even the pterodactyls seemed to have grown weary of his impetuousness and impertinence, I mean he really was an ass, and as the walls began to disintegrate into multiple pools of neon colors, we could see through to the other side and there was Sam, playing saxophone with Be Bop Deluxe. Arlo was close to invisible by now, and in the blink of an eye, the pterodactyls swooped down and picking him up, and carried him away through the opening in the wall, leaving Sam and the band in his place.

I had always thought that once a soul goes, its gone, but I suppose I was misinformed, I mean Sam came back. I don’t know how it happened, but I guess the soul never really leaves. We may not be aware of it, but it seems that its always nearby. It was good to have Sam back, I mean Arlo wasn’t a real super hero. He really was an just an ass. It turned out that Sam was the real hero, I mean he managed to find his way back from the darkness without getting himself all messed up at the Merriman Sanatorium and Country Club, simply by riding the ‘Kiss Of Light’. He seemed much better when he returned. He said that he had seen what our ancestors had seen, and he was able to understand it all. He said that he had the answers, but he couldn’t tell us as we just weren’t ready to hear it. All he would say was that Osmosis Jones was right. As for Arlo Cool well, he spent an exceedingly painful eternity in the grasp of the pterodactyls. He hardly ever showed up anymore but in the event that he did, we were prepared, I mean Tate had gone out and secured a couple of pterodactyls just in case.

Aragon Nixx-Sci-Fi Private Eye

 

by Solomon Tate

Aragon Nixx sat at a table by the window at Fran’s, nursing a cup of coffee for almost twenty minutes without taking a drink. He just sat there, stirring the spoon around and around, and every time he completed the circle, there was a clink as the spoon hit the edge of the cup. Dressed in a gray trench coat and fedora, he looked like he just stepped out of a Dashiell Hammett story. He said he was a sci-fi private eye, following clues that had led him across galaxies, as he searched for missing science fiction writers. He claimed to be the best although his reputation was solely based on his locating Agatha Christie so long ago.

By the end of the twenty fifth century, when fiction became fact, and everything that had once been mere fantasy had become the new reality, demand was placed on writers of science fiction to produce new worlds that could be abused and conquered. In this world it was not uncommon for science fiction writers to go missing. He was now in the midst of another case which involved the disappearance of the award winning writer, Kasper Kyro. Kyro was no ordinary writer. He had single handedly been responsible for individual time and space travel by simply manipulating thoughts. Nixx’s appearance at Fran’s that night was proof that it was possible to traverse space and time just by willing it.

“I’ve never heard of him.” I said.

“Well, that’s because he hasn’t been born yet. But in three or four hundred years, everyone will have heard of Kasper Kyro.”

Nixx said that it all began on Weaver’s Planet, a barren hunk of crap hurtling through space, where he had been forced to reside following a rather indiscreet transgression that involved the wife and daughter of the Governor of Stasis 6.  Kyro’s girl walked in to his office above The Parallax Bar and Grill, dressed in a black, leather body suit that left nothing to the imagination. He would have taken her right there on the desk if he could only have figured out how to get that damn body suit off.  She was concerned that he had not come home for almost a week, and had been to the police, but they didn’t take her seriously. One thing Nixx said he knew for sure was that no man would ever leave a woman like that alone for a week. At least not willingly. The clues Nixx had followed through time and space for the past three months had led him right to Fran’s.

And now I wait.” he said. “Sooner or later, he’ll walk in the door, and I’ll have him.”

“And then what?” I asked.

“Nothing.” Nixx said.. The job is only to find him. That’s it, really. Then I report my finding to the despondent girl friend, and pray that I can figure out how that damn body suit comes off.”

A tall man with a long, white beard wandered in to Fran’s clutching a small, leather brief case to his chest. He seemed anxious as hell, and sat at a table near the back of the restaurant. Nixx tried not to be seen.  “That’s Farberman.” Nixx said. “Dr. Martin Farberman, the physicist. About ten years ago he was working at some top secret government brain trust and then he disappeared. Rumor has it that he had inserted himself into a painting. Some friend of his blew up the lab and all of Farberman’s notes. No one has ever heard from him again. Things are certainly beginning to get interesting.” Kyro entered a few minutes later and sat down beside Farberman. Nixx watched and waited patiently, as he lit a cigarette.

“You can’t smoke in here.” I said.

“What?”

“Its the law. You can’t smoke in here.”

“What kind of hell is this?” he asked as he put the cigarette out in his cup of coffee.

“The worst kind.” I said.

Farberman handed Kyro the brief case which he attempted to hide under his jacket. Nixx was already halfway to their table before the writer even noticed him. “Call the police, please.” he said to the server as he passed by her. “I’m a private detective.”

“Kasper Kyro.” he said as he arrived at the table. “Please don’t get up. Your girl is worried about you.”

“She’s not my girl.” Kyro said. “She works for The Agency. She’s a spy.” The police arrived rather quietly and headed directly to the back of the restaurant.

“Mr. Nixx.” one of the officers said. “What do you have for us this time?”

“Constable Frayer” Nixx replied, “its good to see you again.”

“Its Detective Frayer.”

“How nice for you.” Nixx said. “I’m not sure what we have here, but I was hired to find Mr. Kyro, and well, here he is. I’m not sure what the story is with this other gentleman, but I suspect someone is looking for him as well.”

“Alright then.” the dectective said. “Well let’s go down to the station and you can give me a full report. The officers will take care of these two.”

“My friend there can corroborate everything.” Nixx said pointing at me.

“Anything you can add?” the detective asked me.

“Not really.” I said. “What’s going to happen to those two?”

“Nothing.” the detective said.

“And what about Nixx?”

“Well Mr. Nixx will be returned to his bed on the seventeenth floor of St. Michael’s Hospital. You’re free to visit him whenever you want to listen to his crazy ramblings.”

The detective left with Farberman and Kyro still seated at their table. They smiled, as Kyro reached into the brief case and removed what looked like a television remote control. “Tell Nixx we’ll see him again, sometime.” he said, and with the push of a button, the two of them vanished into thin air right before my eyes.

The Crazy Train

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

Drug induced psychosis is what the doctor said. Hell, we didn’t even know that was a thing. Drug induced psychosis. The more we heard those words, the more ominous it seemed. But I guess it was a big deal, I mean the doctor said he’d never really be the same. All they could do now was give him some pills that would mess around with his brain and settle him down and everything, which we found insanely ironic, I mean but that was exactly what got him into this mess. I guess life can be like that, sometimes. As we watched him in his bed sedated and strapped to his bed on the seventeenth floor, it was obvious that  Pauly Herman was pretty well fucked. I suppose it was bound to happen to at least one of us, I mean we were pretty messed up most of the time, riding the ebb and flow of the peyote express. Pauly was always up for the ride. We all were. We’d hang out for what seemed like days at a time, listening to ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ over and over again, as it carried us across deserts and oceans of mind blowing melodies catapulting us to the top of the mountain from where we were pretty sure that we could see the future. It was just what we did then. We’d invite Mindy Kessler and take turns with her in the bathroom.. She wasn’t very pretty, but there was little she wouldn’t do at the drop of a pair of pants.

Things got pretty weird sometime after side ‘A’. We were used to the flying monkeys and the singing grapes and everything, but this was a completely different kind of weird. Pauly met God, or so he said, right there in the kitchen. He didn’t stay long, but he told Pauly that there were only two truths. First, there are aliens living among us, and second, Paul McCartney was, in fact dead. I was already pretty sure that beings from another planet were living in my neighborhood, but the McCartney thing, well that was a pretty big deal. I can’t verify it or anything I mean, I didn’t hear God say a word.  By the time the sun came up we had all come down from the mountain top, although Pauly was still up there, convinced that we needed to sacrifice a virgin, even though not one of us knew of any. We thought he was just stuck in some kind of bad trip or something, but Mindy was sure that he had lost his fucking mind. We had to believe her I mean, she was a psych major and everything.

Pauly had always been a fairly normal guy, despite having only one testicle which, I was assured by a nurse, had absolutely nothing to do with his mental breakdown. I wasn’t as certain though, I mean I think anyone would be a little fucked up if they was missing a testicle. He didn’t lose it or anything, I mean it was just never there. It seems that it was stuck somewhere inside, although I have no idea what use it was to him there. From his stretcher in the E.R., Pauly reiterated all of the clues that existed in Beatles lyric and album covers that clearly noted the death of the famed musician. We had been over this before and the truth was none of us really cared. They were still The Beatles, and to be honest, we didn’t really think that McCartney had written anything of substance since well, forever. Pauly saw it as a great conspiracy, the grand cover-up that scammed a planet. He became loud and animated and was eventually subdued by two rather large security guards and a syringe in his ass. He was moved to the locked unit on the seventeenth floor, where he remained for twenty-three days. We visited him a few times during his stay and he was pretty much out of it most of the time. Whatever pills they were giving him seemed to have turned off his mind completely, but I suppose that was the point. I don’t think he knew we were even there. We took Mindy with us once in the hopes of cheering the poor bastard up I mean, who wasn’t happy getting a blow job, but Pauly wanted nothing to do with it. He pushed Mindy away every time she tried to touch him. After a while we just stopped visiting, I mean there seemed to be no point to it, really.

While he continued to have his mind reprogrammed, we were just hanging out for what seemed like days at a time, listening to ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ over and over again, fucked up on peyote, watching the flying monkeys devour the singing grapes. Mindy was on her knees, honing the skills that had made her a legend when we got the news. Pauly had died. They said it was sudden and inexplicable, but we all  knew that they were full of shit. Pauly just gave up, I mean there was still enough of him left to know that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life uninterested in blowjobs. With no desire to live, he simply slipped into oblivion and found his way back to the deserts and oceans of mind blowing melodies that carried him to the top of the mountain from where he would be able relive the past.

 

From Here To Uncertainty

 

by Solomon Tate

In the film, ‘Prozac Nation’,  the character Elizabeth Wurtzel states “You wake up one morning afraid you’re going to live.” And that’s exactly what it was like. For 2 years my life was no longer in my control as I spent my days consumed with overwhelming dread, and my nights, which seemed to go on forever, in horror that I was going to have to make it through another day. It settled in like a New England fog, without warning,  but with a darkness that was frightfully unsettling, leaving me cold and alone, until it had totally enveloped me. It occupied all of my waking hours, with relief found only in sleep. I was swallowed by an all encompassing fear that had settled in my head like an unwanted house guest that just never seemed to leave. With every passing moment the walls moved in closer and closer, encasing me in a prison that I couldn’t seem to escape.

Its easy to look back and try to sort it all out, but at that time, when I lived my life in quiet desperation, wallowing in the anguish that filled my thoughts, it was impossible to tell the difference between light and dark, although it really didn’t matter. I felt detached from the universe, a singular being drifting through time and space, battling demons that brought me to the brink of a madness that I both detested and feared. Most of all, I was afraid of being afraid. It was completely paralyzing, bringing only a constant, heightened sense of total and complete helplessness. Not knowing what the hell was going on, but certain that absolutely nothing could save me, I wandered around the house hoping to find something I could hold on to before I was swept away by the fear. It wasn’t always like this, though. As far as I remember my childhood was relatively normal, as I lived my typically suburban, middle class life filled with assorted superheros and nondescript cowboys. Outside of the crazy, old woman who lived across the street and threatened to have us arrested every time we played ball hockey on the road, nothing really bothered me. And yet, there I was, almost 20 years later, showing up at Emergency rooms,  on a revolving basis, at every hospital in the downtown core, and each time, sent home in perfect health. Even that never provided any reassurance. The feeling of impending doom that hung over me like a black cloud, continued to tighten its grip on my life. I shut off from the rest of the world, disappearing into my torment. I stopped eating and I stopped working, uncertain how much longer I would be able or willing to carry this burden, often staying in bed for days afraid to get up lest the terror should find me.

In the impending madness I discovered, contrary to popular belief, that it was not darkest before the dawn. It was darkest at twilight, when the fear & loathing ran rampant through my mind, dancing around my head, sending me spiraling down the rabbit hole of despair, knowing that I would have to relive this again tomorrow. It was like living a nightmare, the kind that seems so real. A constant, chronic nightmare with all of the scariest shit right there when I was awake. Every moment of every day I felt the hot, sticky breath of disaster on my neck. I was so aware of it, so tuned in that it became a part of me. At times it felt like I was the only one on the planet who had been doomed to live in this hell on earth, and I was certain that everyone could tell. I excommunicated myself from everyone, embarrassed and ashamed of what I was sure was weakness and failure. The isolation compounded the incessant fear and dread, driving me further and further into the abyss that had taken up permanent residency in my mind.

When I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I felt a sense of relief. It was recommended that I get my hands on the book ‘Hope & Help For Your Nerves’ by Claire Weekes. I read this over and over again, looking for something, anything that I could hang on to in order to deal with the panic that had taken over my life. Over the next few weeks, the clouds began to dissipate, allowing me to see the sunlight for the first time in 2 years. I learned how to deal with the worry and the panic. I learned how to stop fighting the dread that was trying to consume me, how to accept it and to let it run its course until, much to my surprise and delight, it just simply went away. I found myself back in control of what was going on in my head. I learned that I was not alone in the darkness and that there was indeed hope and help. I learned that fear can be all consuming if it is allowed to. It thrives on the fight, growing stronger each time it is challenged. It cannot beaten in combat, but dies when offered acceptance and a willingness to let it pass on its own. I learned to ‘float’ through it, to sail along with it like a boat in the waves, and to live in the present, and stay the hell out of the future.

Decades have passed since those years of emotional insanity, and I continue to float through the eddies and currents of whatever life brings. I gave up the shame of being unwell, and wear my disorder with pride in the knowledge that I have not just survived, but have won the battle for control of my life. It is said that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, and I suspect that the strength I developed all of those years ago prepared me for the trials and tribulations that I have subsequently had to deal with. In the end though, the years have brought me peace and happiness, and that is really what life is about.