“Dancing with the Queen” by S. Douglas Hosdale
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, S. Douglas Hosdale gets more than he bargained for.
“That’s Datura—Queen of the Night.” Raphael was pointing at a large tree filled with big, cream-colored, bell-shaped flowers. A sweet fragrance permeated the air. “The flowers have big power.”
That night Raphael prepared a batch of Datura. In a wooden bowl lay five cream-colored flowers. He poured in some boiling water and told us to let it steep for a while. Then he went off to look for his blonde Dutch girl.
When the water was lukewarm we each took three small sips, and then we headed out to the bar and got drunk. On the way home we walked through the light and dark spots cast by the sporadic streetlights and past the small patchwork of wooden houses. We all agreed that the shadows seemed to have an extra edge to them, but that was it.
Back in our room we decided that it would be a good idea to drink some more Datura water. Everyone took a few cautious sips, and when no one was looking, I gulped down the rest. I was about halfway through when I realized that there was a lot more water in the bowl than I’d thought.
“Whoa, Jake just drank the whole bowl!”
I was caught, but no one seemed to care.
We spilled out onto the lawn in front of our small wooden house. The night’s air was wet and electric. I saw Lance and Carmen laughing together. I saw Dale standing under a bare bulb, nervously twisting the cap of his water bottle. I saw Natalie caught halfway between the darkness of the lawn and the brightness of the room. Everyone was exactly where they should have been.
I saw the distant suns poke holes in the black carpet of the universe, and I realized that—like a singular star hanging in the vast night sky—I wasn’t alone. I thought of the mighty ocean and of the giant tortugas swimming soundlessly in the sea. I thought about the waterfall and the jungle and how perfect they were.
I looked deep into the dark green grass and saw a tiny phosphorescent flower blossoming in the moonlight. It had four white petals and a faded purple center, and it was pulsing with life. I bent down and carefully picked the glowing flower, but it vanished by the time I stood up.
Natalie saw me.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Don’t you see them?” They were so bright and obvious.
“No.” Her big grin lit up the sockets of her eyes, and her wild hair was ablaze.
“They’re everywhere.” I spread my arms out wide.
“No, I’m not. Let me show you.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her out onto my magic carpet.
“Hey guys, check this out. Jake’s picking imaginary flowers!”
Everyone gathered around me. I kept picking more flowers, and they kept evaporating.
“Dude, you’re trippin’,” I heard Lance’s high-pitched laugh ring out. I saw Carmen sway in an imaginary breeze.
The dark night suddenly closed in on me.
“Are you okay, bro?” Dale’s blue eyes pierced mine.
I felt sick. I wanted to throw up. I needed to throw up.
“Jake, come back to us,” I heard Natalie say, but her voice sounded so far away. A thousand hands were grabbing my shoulders, and I was being pulled down into the earth.
“Aw, shit,” someone said.
I kept trying to take deep breaths, and then deeper breaths, but there was a giant weight crushing my chest. Then there was blackness, and then a blacker blackness. And then the empty abyss of nothingness.
Dark hours passed, and finally daylight broke like an egg over the humid ocean.
“Jake’s back,” Natalie announced when she felt me stirring.
My skin was burning, and my blood was setting every capillary on fire.
“Dude, you were out of control last night.”
Everyone started laughing.
Later on, when I was walking through the small village, I discovered that I was something of a local celebrity. Rastas were pointing at me and laughing, and others wanted to shake my hand. Somehow I had earned their newfound respect, but then again, I had danced with the Queen of the Night.
S. DOUGLAS HOSDALE’s love of Chihuahuas is almost as strong as his love of writing. He has directed short films, music videos, web series, reality TV shows, and commercials. He recently finished his latest screenplay, Dirty Machine, and a web series that he directed, Adventures of a Merch Girl, is coming soon. He currently lives in Santa Monica and is concentrating on writing a book of short stories entitled The Lees of Sunshine. Hosdale is an ardent adventure traveler and aspires to visit all seven continents before his time is up. You can contact him and check out his cinematic work at www.manifestoproductions.com, and follow him on Twitter @hosdale.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Oct 9, 2014
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