Peering Beyond The Veil

“You’re a door-to-door magic potion salesman?” I asked, my tone plainly expressing my skepticism.

The large man with midnight black hair and skin replied in his deep baritone, “Yes sir, that would be one manner in which my vocation could be described…”

The traveling vendor was an impressive image. Well past six feet in height, the darkest complexion I had ever seen, a well cut dark suit, well trimmed, and immaculately clean, the man did not appear to be the type that traipsed about suburban neighborhoods peddling snake oil. He had asserted that the wares he proffered were literally magical in nature – literally, not figuratively – he made it quite clear that he was not using the term “magical” in any sort of metaphorical sense – he said magical and he meant truly magical.

“What exact magical effects do these potions supposedly produce?” I inquired. I expected that he would respond with some sort of effect that would be totally impossible to quantify or put to a test. I was expecting something of the nature of “bringing good luck” or “increasing one’s sexual attractiveness”.

“These potions allow one to part the veil between the worlds and peer into the spiritlands,” the dark man replied with a perfectly straight face. I detected not even a tiny hint of dissemblance in his tone.

It was obvious that there had to be some sort of catch. Perhaps he would tell me that the potions only worked while one slept. He had to have some manner of ploy in store.

“How, exactly, do you use them?” I next asked.

“You simply take a small sip of the fluid contained in one of these small vials and you will immediately see into the worlds of those who have passed beyond,” the man answered with perfect self assurance. “You will even be able to communicate with the spirits, you will be able to question them as you wish. All the knowledge of those lost to our world will be at your disposal.”

“So, you are claiming that, in essence, you have absolute proof of life-after-death in that little black case of yours?” I queried.

“I do indeed sir,” the man intoned, “take one small sip of this elixir and all of your questions regarding the nature of the afterlife will be answered. You will be the possessor of absolute certainy regarding the nature of reality.”

“All this for only $9.99…” I said, arching an eyebrow dubiously.

“Yes sir, $9.99 is the total monetary cost you will incurr,” he replied. Then he added, “I will even go so far as to guarantee the efficacy of this product. If you purchase a vial of this potion, I will stand right here and wait while you sample it. If you do not find my claims to be totally valid, I will unhesitatingly refund double the price that you have paid.”

Although I was still completely unconvinced that the fellow’s claims were in any way accurate, I decided to take him up on his offer. I was, quite frankly, bored and perhaps this peculiar fluid would at least provide some entertaining reaction.

I paid the man’s price and in a oddly fluid and graceful sequence of movements, he presented me with a small vial of dark fluid.

I unscrewed the cap and lifted the bottle to my lips. Carefully, I tilted the container so that only a small dribblet of the potion rolled out across my tongue.

The fluid, as it touched my tongue, almost seemed to begin to move of its own accord. In a trice, the preternatural bit of oil had surged over my epithelium and plunged past my epiglottis. As the potion hastened to make contact with my innards, I felt a most peculiar tingling sensation developing all along my mouth and throat.

The dark vendor calmly and patiently stood watching as I contemplated the potency of his product. I noted that my eyes were truly experiencing some strange alteration in perception. It was almost as if my vision was being compressed into a smaller area within my normal field of view. I also realized I was hearing strange noises that seemed not to be of the normal world.

As these effects were occurring, the tingling sensation has proceeded to spread throughout my entire body. As the sensation reached my extremities, it began to transform itself from a mere tingle to more of an intense burning, which verged on a sensation of pain.

The salesman seemed to be unsurprised by the expression on my face, which I would assume must have betrayed the nature of the effects I was experiencing. In a soft tone he informed me, “I can see that the potion is taking hold of your system. It will be less than a moment until the spirit world is yours to behold.”

The peculiar compression of my eyesight had changed to something of a tunnel-vision effect. I began to notice that, at the end of this tunnel, I could see a bright light. The odd noises had slowly amplified into a rushing wind. My entire body had begun to feel like it was about to burst into flames and self-immolate in seconds.

As the vendor had promised, in less than a moment, the effects had completely manifested themselves. I was able to peer about myself and see what could have only been the world of the deceased. I looked at my hands and noted that they had taken on a strange transparent quality. I glanced down at my legs and saw that they, likewise, were strangely translucent in appearance.

As I gazed downward, I suddenly realized that I was not only seeing a diaphanous version of my form, but also a more solid seeming version of my body, crumpled on the ground.

The ebony merchant allowed a tiny smile to fleetingly touch his lips as he looked down at my collapsed form. As he began to turn towards the next potential customer’s abode, he said, “Enjoy your visit to the spiritlands. I’m afraid I may have forgotten to mention that the effects of the potion are permanent. However, as you can see, the results which I promised have proven to be entirely valid. I assume that you will not be needing a refund…”

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