The Elemental Drug

You will not find any needle marks on my arms, nor dark patches under my eyes. I don’t have the excruciating pains from lack of the narcotic substance, fear attacks and shivering fits. I close my eyes and try to wish myself back into those fetid days, when I was a user of heroin. The memories of the addiction to that most enslaving powder seem as recollections of paradise itself now. Then again – what are wishes, but triggers unsqueezed?

The self-destructing trip I had taken under my feet started who knows how many years ago. Truly, I have no memories of myself in younger years for the drugs I consumed wiped my mind clear. Maybe I was a successful businessman with a large company to manage, or then again I could have just as easily been a vagrant looking for a handout in the streets of an unforgiving city. It makes no difference.

Many a foul things taint a man to forgetfulness. Escape the realm you exist in. Flee! The normality and the routine of the general mundane starts to weight on your shoulders like the pressure of an ocean unfathomed. Only a desperate desire to flee and break free remains: still the trouble with escaping is that you might end up in a worse place you started from.

The large cities, you know, aren’t such scary places. We crowd together in fear of the plains, the wasteland, and the empty space. Even though we suffocate from pollution and our own moral depravity we choose the lesser evil, for the need to huddle together in huts resonates back from the early stages of the evolution of Man. We fear the barren land, the ground that has distinct sounds and smells, as if the plains have their own distinct personalities. And empty space is to be filled.

My addiction was my friend, I had no intention to have quarrel with it or to disperse from it. Whatever I escaped from I had forgotten it. Occasionally I stole or begged for money. When times were better I managed to get a job but they never lasted long. Restless in both mind and body I drifted from city to city, hitchhiking myself cross the country. The metropolises were the places you could get anything for, well, anything. No one cared if you were a child molester, a murderer or a thief. Gimme what’s mine and I’ll give you what’s yours. A silent motto on the lips of a drug dealer or a robber turning that rusty bread-knife in your stomach.

Distant and fractured pictures come to my mind when I try to think back into the time I didn’t know the Powder. Another city, same faces. The same empty feeling and a short jolt of satisfaction when injecting myself with artificial, violent dreams. Get high, hit rock bottom. Whatever just as long I wouldn’t feel so empty.

That town was different. I could see its silhouette on the backdrop of the smog-covered orange sun. Like a bony hand stretching out from a grave: frail and powerless. Like me. And the town seemed to like me. It’s stone towers, deceitful streets and its age; it all spoke to me, whispered my forgotten name. It had the same remorseful emptiness; that feeling of uneasiness that you have when standing close to an obvious junkie, whose eyes are grey with despair but the inner tension and the abrupt violence radiates from his every move he makes. I felt clean, common, and decent next to the town. What it hid in its emptiness I felt I had to discover, maybe as an impulse of my own psychological urge to confront my own nothingness inside and the despair it had driven me into.

The first days I spent there I tried to find a place to sleep, but the watchful eyes of policeman and commoners alike recognized me as an outcast of society; a mere junkie. For hours and hours I walked around the town, admiring its spirit or essence. Here were houses very timestricken and old, but the glass and steel office buildings intruded into the scene with vigour, driving me down more emptier alleys and inhabitable parts. Strolling lazily more and more further away from the centre of the city with its malls and arcades, cinema’s and bars, the shadows of the surroundings around me grew ever thicker and dense.

It was almost completely dark when the oldest region of the queer town was reached. Something awoke in me when I gazed at the buildings too strong and defiant to be torn down after they became inhabitable; cobblestones too rigid and untamed to be polished by countless steps they had endured; archways and doorways filled with shades and the gusts of wind that gushed through them as blood through an open wound. Wherever I had accidentally ventured this place was more alive now that the troublesome people had left it when, for whatever reason, they had moved their dwellings. Under the streets I felt vibrations like those from a heartbeat, the old masonry were the very veins of it and I was the brain to comprehend this enormous stone creature.

Misery loved company and I felt that I had found a friend. That very night I spent in an old colonial house, sleeping on a bag that I filled with hay and leaves. From that moment on I had unknowingly been addicted to a true nightmare higher than all the heavens together and deeper than any abyss of the freezing cold.

After some period of time I started scavenging the old houses for livelihood. A candlestick from here, an ebony ashtray from here. Who knows why the no one came to these parts and took the items for their own. Did the townsfolk know something I didn’t? Was I an intruder in these archways and granite houses, where sinister silence and lightless corners hid? But the call was so strong, as was the call of my blood; actually a scream for more of what I needed to fill the hole.

The stash I had brought with me was running out and I knew the hunger within me would grow and consume me whole if I did not feed it soon. The collected items I tried to peddle on the streets but none dared to walk closer for my quite bohemian looks.

Days were filled with feverish searches for something valuable , which led me to houses dead for centuries, abandoned forever. What struck me as odd was the capsule of time the older part of the town was in: the stained glass windows were intact and not in shards on the street from the result of children’s target practice with pebbles, or the doors and windows that were closed on almost all the buildings forcing me to break a few locks and hinges. In my time I had valued books of fancy and fantasy, remembering from that time a fairy tale of a dragon that lived near a village in a cave. The dragon was a certain threat, ravenous and ancient, but the elders of the village had reached an agreement with the dragon, that as long as they would sacrifice a virgin for it each year and left the dragon’s cave alone, the beast would not attack. So the cave loomed from afar with nameless menace; a reminder of the order of the food chain. And every time I opened a cellar door I felt the villagers had been wise to leave cave alone, and that I, the noble but daft knight, was getting closer to waking up the dragon lord in his malice of the possibility of the ignorant intruder.

The shaking of my hands grew more frequent, more potent. I started having blackouts and nightmares and for some reason I couldn’t stand sleeping inside those tomb-like cottages any more. Could it have been that the lack of medications had created a loophole in my consciousness, forcing me to look at where I had become inhabited with a more sober look? Who had lived here? Why had they left? All of it reminded me a museum that had been left untouched and silent with only the presence of the plains and wastelands aghast to roam? For the houses and it’s overall system of streets and archways had a way of feeling alive, even though they were dead and inanimate. Then again, weren’t the curious wizards, the Chaldeans, the first to command the dead and animate them with commands and tongues not of this Earth?

And on that quest for relief I happened to visit a house on a cypress hill, its foundation firmly rooted into the ground. Quiet and omnipresent, it guarded over the lesser buildings with colonial masonry and supreme age. From its upper floors I had sometimes heard rustling and silent steps, but I accounted them on rats and my flimsy senses.

The door blew open instantly when I rammed it with my shoulder blowing dust into my face. Instantly I was propelled out of the daylight outside to the forebodingly dim quarters. God – had nothing been touched over the centuries? What power was it that drove the people out of here quick enough to leave everything as they were? As my eyes got used to the lack of light I grabbed the first thing in my reach and stormed out of there, trying not to look back at the upper windows, where I could feel with every bone in my body, that someone’s or something’s eyes were upon me.

It was an old vial, made of thin glass, supported by a greenish metallic wire. Inside the vial was something mentally viral, a radiant, luminous powder, left there by the curious folk whose first ancestors were sorcerers and alchemists running away from the puritan lands of England.

You have to understand that I was desperate, I needed a fix, I was addicted, and it wasn’t my fault. But I guess that’s what all the others say too. If I weren’t me I wouldn’t believe myself either. But as I hurried further away from the wretched house on the cypress hill I glanced at the strange vial and sought temporary refuge to investigate my findings.

On an old tombstone I poured a bit of it, scraped a little with my pocketknife and swallowed it. Now I know why these old houses lay empty. The unfeelable winds on the plains and wastelands do not seem so impersonal now and when they whisper I am listening.

You wonder, what did that strange substance do to me? You want me to tell you why I wished for the simple addiction of deadly drugs and enslavement to the criminal substance? I envision you asking me those things and yet I cannot formulate any certain answers. Now I am an everlasting, ever-howling wind through the nostrils from an unseeable demigorgon, a blackness before a hiding star. I am addicted forever and I can’t find faith to pray to any god for the gods are numerous now, uncaring enough to take notice of a passing breeze.

When you too are walking through olden masonry and archways of the yesteryear, and think you heard the wind whisper a plea or a cursing to the gods, then do not answer their prayers, for being a human is the closest piece of existence you get to be a god of the outside.

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