“Demon in the Mirror” by Christophorus Cedenus
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, Christophorus Cedenus enters a new reality.
I spend most of my time synthesizing chemicals and looking out the door to see if anyone is coming. I am naturally paranoid. It’s 2:37 a.m. on a Thursday, and the lab is all mine. I am a chemist. I’ve had countless numbers of trips in this lab—so many that I bring a nurse friend to keep my heart rate in check whenever I try something a little risky.
I’ve always found a certain seductiveness in having experiences many people would never consider experiencing. Have you ever heard of DMT? If you haven’t, DMT is a psychedelic that will toss you into an entirely different reality. The problem with DMT is that as soon as you come down, the memories of the trip you just had will fade almost exactly at the rate and in the manner of a dream.
It took me three weeks to figure out a way around this. I decided the best way to do it would be using small doses of DMT with a humidifier. The idea was that if I kept my brain figuratively submerged in DMT for three hours, I would be able to take a little bit of each trip back with me. It’s like trying to remember a dream that lasts three hours. I wasn’t really sure if it would work, but I knew it was going to be fun.
I set up a system where my nurse friend would provide a dose every ten minutes. I had planned to start the trip at three a.m. I walked to the sink, where my nurse friend was filling up the water container while listening to Radiohead: “How to Disappear Completely.” I couldn’t think of a better song with which to plunge into my trip. After splashing water over my face, I lied down on a yoga mat, and my friend turned the humidifier machine on. I inhaled very deeply and felt an invasive smoke inside my lungs.
I remember feeling the DMT kick in just as soon as Thom started singing the third verse. The wall to my left soon changed into oval liquid patterns. I realized that no matter how hard I looked at them, I couldn’t even begin to discern them—they were simply too complex. Whenever I tried to figure them out, they changed into something else. My nurse friend morphed and changed into a variety of characters—from Bugs Bunny to Justus von Liebig—while melting into the wall. It was inexplicably beautiful. At one point I felt like my consciousness was being stretched and pulled across oblivion. It wasn’t painful or delightful—I didn’t feel anything.
Suddenly I started floating toward this mirror, diving into it and going right through it. Behind the mirror I got a strong sense of the chalky interior of the white wall and the copper water pipes, although I did not physically see them. I felt alone in my mind; there was nothing distracting me, not even my thoughts. I got a strange feeling—the best way to describe it would be ice-cold mineral water being poured directly into my skull, then slowly trickling down through my body. That’s how I realized I had no physical human form. I wasn’t behind the mirror—I was the mirror itself. I could see billions of details, colors, shapes, and invisible radiant energy on the other side of it. I purposely tried to blink, but I couldn’t. All I could see was a demon looking at himself in this mirror, and talking to it. I’m really bad at reading lips, so I couldn’t decipher what he was actually saying. On this side of the mirror there was only blackness and a deafening silence I just couldn’t bear.
By the end of the trip, pieces of me began appearing, like a puzzle I was assembling myself. I felt my memory being gathered; everything that made me up—every memory, language, and circumstances that shaped me into the person I am today—was plugged back into my being. I opened my eyes. I was back, the room was filled with bright lights once again, but I felt more at ease.
A few minutes later, I went to the lab’s bathroom. As I washed my hands, I lifted my head and saw the words I Am You carved into the top right corner of the mirror. I smiled.
CHRISTOPHORUS CEDENUS: Autocrat. Author of The Last Poem of Schetzzer & Odium. Man of Action. www.facebook.com/ChristophorusCedenus.
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: Mar 19, 2015
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