Who had sent him that one internet article on cannabis use
and long term schizophrenia rates? His ex-girlfriend?
Was that some passive aggressive way of telling Mike he
needed to stop smoking? Or did she think he was turning schizophrenic?
For a brief second, Mike meditated on the idea of being
schizophrenic and found it oddly pleasant, as if surely all ex-religious
soothsayers had been at least mildly schizophrenic at some point in their
How else did they see all those angels?
They were sitting in Mike’s car at the stoplight at Cedar Drive and Forest Lane (the intersection would later melt off the face of the
earth proving the street names entirely irrelevant) when Wiz gave a disclaimer,
“so yeah, once you take these, you can never really go back.”
The thought rattled Mike—he was trying to get high, not
permanently adjust his consciousness.
“What do you mean, like flashbacks?”
“No. Not so much flashbacks. More like, once you access this
part of your brain, you can always access it later.”
He paused again.
“I guess that sounds kinda like a flashback,” then Wiz began
laughing violently, verging on the maniacal (later, the evil laughter would
only grow worse, much worse).
But Mike wasn’t going to let his friend scare him off so
easily. Instead, he stared down Wiz like the demented funhouse gatekeeper he
was—certain the reward was worth the price of admission.
Interestingly enough, it was at Starbucks Mike first started
noticing them. Why Starbucks though, he remembered having made a pledge to his
friend at one point that he would never step inside a Starbucks his entire life
through. Then one day he crossed that line, into the lair at the very front
door of the same singular coffee chain. Mike found the coffee overpriced but
tasty. No great moral sanctimony felt compromised.
So why were they following him at the Starbucks?
Did Starbucks have
their blueberry muffins tapped? Did the lattes carry tracers?
Mike walked outside with a newspaper tucked in between left
arm when he saw them coming out of the white van—one after another, men in slacks
and tucked in polo shirts, more men with glasses, only men, some Asian, some
white. Were they convening for a business meeting, surely not Mike quickly figured—if
they were all so well dressed why were fifteen of them crammed into the back of
the dumpy work van. They were CIA.
Something like that, possibly a sub-CIA faction, something
entirely autonomous, probably scanning the joint for unconscious energy
When Mike walked by each of them, his ears went screaming
with static akin to a white and black bullet rattling inside his head as if on
an intended mission to scramble Mike’s brain . He kept his head down, eyes
averted, and walked by them as calmly as he could back to his Civic, keeping
his trembling hands to a minimum.
Once the last one walked inside
the Starbucks, Mike slammed on the accelerator. He wasn’t sticking around to
see the show.
Wiz stuck the mushrooms out on his upward palm directly in
front of Mike’s face. The stems spiraled perfectly and stood upright in
his hand, unsupported by nothing except for the quality of their growth into
adulthood and gravity.
“Ready for these?”
“How the fuck am I supposed to eat those? They look like
they’re out of a Mario game. And they smell like shit.”
“Uh. You stick them in your mouth and start chewing.
Afterwards you can swallow. If that’s what you’re into.”
“Fine,” Mike grabbed one and popped it into his mouth,
making sure to not exercise even a slight neuron’s synapse of thought in the
The chewing process was completely unbearable. Mike gagged
spastically four to five times in the middle, sure he’d heave everything from
where it had just gone.
“Yeah these are a brand new grow. For some reason their
especially juicy. But I’m telling you man, like, you can’t even find these
anymore. Somehow these wackos figured out their own strand of fungi—it’s like Hoffman went into the lab with some cow shit and came out with these, they’re
from another planet.”
“Uh cool. Can’t wait,” Mike
The first thing Mike noticed was the colors. Wiz and Mike
laid sprawled in the grass of his front yard giggling like schoolchildren. Wiz
had roses growing in his yard (not imaginary roses, Mike was slightly perplexed
as to why he had never noticed these in the first place) and they were truly
magnificent, they screamed a radiant pink Mike had never known in his whole
life until that very second.
When Mike turned around to look at Wiz’s house, he noticed the house invaded by a moldy, rotting purple. The foundation seemed to be
“Have you had that inspected lately?”
“Er uh, nothing, nevermind.”
“Let’s go inside!” Wiz jumped up.
Back in Wiz’s bedroom, Mike instantly became unsettled. Wiz
wandered over to his closet to retrieve a lighter, and the shadows in the
corner of the room engulfed Wiz in the vice of some evil, wispy talon. As soon
as he had been there, he disappeared. Mike continued to stare into the blackness.
It only grew deeper, wading Mike into some hypnotic nightmare of total
isolation, as if he was stuck on the wrong elevator, the permanently wrong
floor—these would be his chambers for eternity…
The room receded in darkness as if from a flicked switch.
The Wiz appeared, he had gone nowhere.
“Wiggin out a bit?” he asked.
“You could say that,” Mike said.