Monday, December 31, 2012
Salvia X Files: "Last Ride to the Hospital"
The following post is a short story about a salvianaut who ends up inside a psychiatric hospital. After his friend visits him, things start to get interesting. The story reads like a ‘Twilight Zone’ or ‘X Files’ episode.
I sat gazing through a steel-mesh, plexiglass partition that separated me from two California State Police officers. The bench seat I was sitting on had a bad spring. I wondered how comfortable the two officers were up front. Looking out into the night, I noticed that our vehicle was sandwiched between two other police cars.
Fog was rolling in as usual for this time of year. The California coastline streamed by like a dream while I thought about my friend Jeff who worked with me at the Santa Barbara Mail Processing Facility.
After a polite knock on the plexiglass, I asked one of the officers why they needed three cars instead of one to get me to the hospital. The officer driving glanced back and chuckled, “That’s what we’d like to know. All we know is that the hospital is under some sort of lock down, and they’re taking a lot of precautions.”
“What the hell is going on?” I thought to myself. “This can’t have anything to do with Jeff.” I tried to piece together the events that had occurred during the last few days. All I knew for sure was that Jeff had been placed under section 5150, an involuntary psychiatric hold. He had supposedly been considered a threat to himself and to others after the police picked him up for creating a public disturbance.
This wasn’t the first time he had gotten into trouble. I should know, because I was with him the last time he made a spectacle of himself. We were doing something that we had been experimenting with the last couple of years - Salvia Extract. I usually limited myself to 10x tops, but Jeff always wanted to go farther. Smoking 30x was no big deal for him. One night after hitting the 30x, he suddenly jumped up and exclaimed, “I can fucking manipulate reality!” I told him to calm down, but he pointed at something in the room. “Look!” he screamed. I quickly turned my head and saw something flash alongside a wall. Jeff then bolted through an open door. I ran after him, but he had already ripped off his shirt, and he was waving it in the middle of a nearby street. How he was able to run around like that under 30x without falling down flat on his face was beyond me.
The three police cars turned off the highway and made their way to a large campus-like group of buildings. Surrounding the buildings was a ten foot high chain link security fence. After stopping briefly at the front gate, we headed toward an imposing looking brick building. Chiseled in marble above its front entrance were the foreboding words, 'Lompoc State Hospital'.
After exiting the police car, I was given a visitors badge and escorted inside. A tall, middle aged man walked up to me and said, “Are you Mr. *Edit*? I replied that I was, and I asked him what was going on. Before he answered, I glanced around at the central area and the surrounding hallways. There were security guards everywhere. The tall gentleman then said, “ My name is Dr. ######. I am the lead psychiatrist here at LSH. Your friend, Mr. *Edit* was remanded to us by the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County. We came to the agreed upon conclusion that your friend was showing symptoms of acute schizophrenia.
There was an uneasy silence before I inquired, “Why all the police and security guards? Does it have anything to do with Jeff?”
The psychiatrist raised a hand up to his face and ran a finger across his receding hair line. He then uttered, “Your friend was involved in a sort of violent anomaly along with several security personnel guarding him.”
“What?” I asked incredulously.
The psychiatrist motioned with his arm and said, “Come with me.”
We proceeded to walk down a flight of stairs to an underground system of tunnels. During working hours, these tunnels were normally used to safely escort patients around the facility. An armed security guard joined us and we continued along one of the tunnels for what seemed like fifty yards. The psychiatrist then began to explain the situation.
“Your friend was first sent to a hospital in Santa Barbara, but something very peculiar was going on with his behavior. It was decided that it would be better if he were sent here to Lompoc.”
“What kind of peculiar behavior?” I asked.
“Your friend was somehow involved in severe physical disturbances at the other facility.” The psychiatrist then looked over at me. “We know that the two of you have been using the psychoactive drug salvia divinorum.”
I stopped walking and turned toward the psychiatrist. “Sir, could you just please tell me what’s going on?”
The psychiatrist gestured toward a door and we climbed a flight of stairs. Now we were in a totally different building, a building with a slight odor of death wafting through its halls.
The psychiatrist’s demeanor began to change. Grabbing hold of my shoulder, he guided me to a large holding room. I started to get nervous. I could feel my sphincter tightening. Moving closer, I noticed that the inside of the room had been grotesquely rearranged. As I stood at the open door, I got chills. Appearing before my eyes was something that looked like a fucking scene out of the movie ‘Alien’.
Somehow the area had lost its dimensionally square identity. The room’s hard angles had become curved. As I slowly walked through the door, I noticed that the inside of the room had the rough appearance of a wheel. All the objects that had previously been situated on the floor, like chairs and a cot for sleeping, were now embedded along the curved surface of one of the room’s walls. Also lodged into the circular wall, at approximately the four o’clock position, was the ossified remains of a human being. Staring at the face of the human, I quickly realized I was looking at my friend Jeff.
I stepped forward to get a closer look. His face, while ossified into a pasty shade of white, still exuded a lingering smell of death. He was seated on something set into the wall that resembled a chair. Astonishingly, I realized that his body was seemingly replicated into very thin, yet lifelike, copies of itself. The solidified, replicated copies layered away behind him until they disappeared into the room’s curved wall.
I was almost at the point of passing out when the psychiatrist shook me and pointed his finger at the room‘s floor. Protruding out of the floor’s surface was a diminutive, porcelain humanoid. I bent down and studied the figure closely. It was an exact replica of a security guard. An expression of terror was frozen on its tiny face. My darting eyes noticed several other nondescript, porcelain humanoids embedded all over the wheel-like surface of the room’s interior.
The psychiatrist put his arm behind me and led me out of the room. He explained that the porcelain humanoid closely resembled one of the missing members of the hospital's security staff. I was at a loss for words as we walked down a hallway before arriving at an office of some kind. I sat down, oblivious to the fact that there were other men standing around me.
Slowly going into shock, I began to hear a distant laugh coming from Jeff's room. It sounded like...yes...it was Jeff. My mind was now completely confused. I looked up around me and asked, “Do you guys hear that laughing sound?” Everyone was stone silent. Then a skinny brother wearing a white lab coat cleared his throat and said in a tinny voice, “Man, I been hearing that shit ever since I came on duty.” The psychiatrist quickly turned his head toward the man and gave him an angry look.
Nervously running my fingers through my hair. I looked down at my shirt and noticed that my visitor’s badge was missing. At this point the psychiatrist composed himself and said, “Mr. *Edit*, sometimes it’s necessary for an individual’s rights to be temporarily suspended for the sake of the surrounding community. We here at LSH believe you might be a risk to the community the same way your deceased friend was a risk. Therefore, we must unfortunately inform you that.....”
My heart was now beating so hard that I was experiencing palpitations. The psychiatrist’s words were a blur. I suddenly stood up and exclaimed, “I lost my visitor’s badge. I think it’s back in the other room. I’m going to go get it.” I then ran out of the office. The psychiatrist behind me yelled, “Hey, you can’t go back in there.”
I heard a security guard trailing me as I raced towards Jeff's room. The muffled laughter was getting louder. I ran through the door and was immediately shifted with force into a seated position. A rush like the rush of a salvia trip enveloped me. My mind was being taken over by salvia reality. I could feel my body calcifying.
When the security guard ran into the room after me, his shoes were immediately sucked into the floor’s surface. I was able to watch him through my calcifying eyes as he struggled to regain his balance. The room was now beginning to slowly rotate, and the curved, wheel-like interior transformed into a type of malleable jelly. The security officer’s legs were now slowly sinking into the liquefied floor. A look of extreme panic washed over his face. A few seconds later the liquefaction was up to his waist. Then the guard frantically reached for his gun and fired off two quick shots into the rotating mass.
While still watching him sink into the quivering floor, I felt a sudden lurch backwards as I shifted from one reality into a cloned, secondary reality. I was being replicated backwards into the curved wall the same way Jeff was replicated. I felt more jolts as my ossifying body shifted backwards through a succession of growingly dissimilar, parallel realities.
The security guard (or one of his parallel doppelgangers) was now neck high in the quicksand maelstrom. Then, with a blink of his porcelain eyes, his shrinking, terrified face disappeared beneath the floor’s quivering surface.
The laughter around me began transitioning into a hypnotic trance as I continued to shift backwards through a scanning kaleidoscope of alternate worlds. Soon I began to notice the outlines of welcoming entities in the periphery of the now vanishing hospital room.
The physical world of the state hospital was rapidly fading away. From behind me, I could sense a large rotating, organic wheel composed of interconnected, humanoid beings. One of the humanoids reached out his arm to me. It was Jeff. As I grabbed his hand, my salvia body slid out of its earthly cocoon; and like the multicolored, soaring image of a butterfly, I was free.