You know, psychonaut23@... may seem like a cranky old man, but what if he is right? Hang with me a sec on this one. We've had our fair share of crazies on the list over the years (sp0rz@..., anyone?), and I'm inclined—who isn't?—to throw up some filters and deflect these lunatics into my spam bin. But, after last weekend, well . . .I'm more inclined to think that psychonaut23@... knows what he is talking about.
I've seen something. Maybe it was Bleak Zero. Maybe it was something worse . . .
I was tagging along with some friends (my ex- and her new boyfriend, actually; she called me earlier that day and, all our differences aside, wanted my professional opinion on some of these people) to a party up in the Highland Park area. In this neighborhood, every party is an industry party; you see your usual sycophants, wanna-bes, hangers-on, and groupies all engaged in the normal sort of shit you see at these parties: drinking cheap beer, knocking over furniture, fucking in the pool, dropping acid in the bushes out back of the house. Not my sort of party, as you can guess. Anyway, it all looked pretty typical—annoying and exhausting, sure, but pretty run-of-the-mill.
After about an hour of wandering through the various rooms in this house—fucking palatial, by the way, must have been 8000 square feet plus on three levels—I come across my ex's new beau and some friends of his. They're all clustered in a walk-in closet in one of the unused guest rooms, passing around some sort of atomizer/inhaler. I didn't get a chance to really look at the device, but it had a hand crank and a flanged front-end that cupped over the nose. The beau, by virtue of being my new best friend since we rode over to this party together, offers me a hit, and he shows me how to work it. I politely pass, saying that I had enough drugs of my own. I didn't like how some of the others were tweaking: unconscious finger movements, lip spasms, phantasmal object tracking, and this twitching pull of their noses as if they were rabbits pretending to sneer like Elvis or Billy Idol.
I excuse myself before the mood turns in this little room, and go find my ex. As I'm looking for her, I start to notice that others are showing these symptoms—the lip movements, the eyes tracking on things that aren't there, the twitching noses—and, by the time I find my ex, I'm starting to think that maybe these guys in the closet are patient zero in this little hot zone. Whatever they're inhaling, it's still toxic when it comes back out of them. They're breathing it out, and it is gradually seeping through everyone's pores.
I can't find my ex, and I'm starting to freak out a bit. I duck into a bathroom and rifle through the cabinets and—holy fuck!—you would not believe the pharmacy I found. I build myself a spirit armor compound, swallow it, and sit down to wait for it to take effect.
That's when I realize how quiet it has gotten. There's no music, no laughter, none of that buzz of voices that reminds you how not-alone we are all the time. It's just dead quiet. As if the world has ceased to exist outside this bathroom. For a minute, I think I've fucked the dosage or that the bottles didn't contain what the labels said they did, but then I start to feel that dull throb of the Oneiroi around my wrists and ankles. My armor is working.
I come out of the bathroom, and the whole house is still, like one of those freeze frames you see in the movies. But everyone isn't immobile, they're just waiting. As I walk past a couple in the hallway, frozen in mid-grope, I see their eyes track me. I've become the invisible phantasm that they all see but don't realize they do. It's like this throughout the house: everyone is watching me, everyone is waiting. At first, I think I've fallen into the Oneiroi, and that I'm walking on some level of the collective fabric of the house, but everything is too solid, too immutable. I have no control; I'm still in my flesh.
Then the whispering starts. No one's lips move, but I can hear their voices. And they're all whispering the same thing, like they're reading off the same script. It sounds like gibberish. I can't even remember it well enough to try to recreate it. But they're all in sync.
I ran. It was fucking terrifying. All I remember is wanting to get out of there. I went for the front door, and the next thing I can remember is being in the back of a cab in Santa Monica. I asked the cab driver where he picked me up, and he pretended to not understand English. He just dropped me off at the end of the Promenade (as if I had asked to be let off there), and took off.
I don't know what happened at that party. I don't know what everyone was on, but it was really strange. Really strange. I've been trying to get in touch with my ex-girlfriend for two days now, and I can't reach her. I . . . yeah . . .I don't know what to do.
"We take it for granted that our dreams spring from below; possibly the quality of our dreams suffers in consequence." (T. S. Eliot)