My name is John Hades. If you’re not familiar with Greek mythology, you might be mispronouncing my name, or not, but technically, yes. The name has always brought along some sort of post-apocalyptic vibe to my life. Every time I hear someone say my name, it’s like the end is near, and I’m responsible for it.
A girl I used to date once wrote a very dark story called, ‘Through the Eye of Hades.’ I told her to change the title to something else before publication; otherwise, I’d leave her. She did change it, but I ended up dumping her anyway. Her name was Denise, who was as irritating as her stories in which she would over-reference her favourite writers so that it was so obvious. That wasn’t the reason why I dumped her, though. I loved the sex, but she was allergic to my cat. So, in a way, I left her, but I wouldn’t let her leave me. I wouldn’t let anyone that entered my life go. Not that there are many people in my life, despite being in college. I just loved watching how I brought out the darkest in her. When we first met, she was this inexperienced, happy small-town girl.
I literally seduced her like the serpent in Eden by feeding her magic mushrooms for dinner. (Important note: The serpent in Eden is proof that there is always evil lurking in something good. In this case, a harmless evil because temptation is portrayed as bad, but the decision is yours. Pure evil will grab you instantly by the neck.) Everyone reacts differently to the effect of psilocybin. I didn’t trust who she was on the outside and believed that the mushrooms would tell me the truth. If you were a genuinely happy person, you would typically experience some euphoria when eating mushrooms.
On the other hand, Denise went through a drastic change of perception, which eventually led to a panic attack. It started with her pupils dilating, followed by her seeing cockroaches crawling down my walls. She imagined the fast-creepy crawling sounds and immediately jumped on my couch, screaming.
“They’re going to kill me, they’re going to kill me!” she kept screaming.
It struck me that her biggest fear was death, which didn’t surprise me because her dad owned a funeral home. She told me about her childhood nightmares and how she once saw her dead grandmother waving at her from down the hallway. Interestingly enough, that mushroom trip inspired her to her first dark fiction piece; it almost struck me as a horror story. What was more significant since she started dating me was that she became who she really was on the inside. I made her face her biggest fear – no big deal. I did it more for myself than for her. You shouldn’t be anyone’s fool. Speaking of fooling, she thought I didn’t know that she had a big crush on Andrew, her best friend Lindsay’s boyfriend. Things weren’t going well between Andrew and Lindsay, and I deliberately waited until they split before I dumped Denise, using my cat Lizzy as the main reason. I really love Lizzy, so much that I took her with me to college. Since pets weren’t allowed in dorms, I rented a small basement in town. That way, I didn’t have to share my space with anyone. Denise hung around in the basement a lot, but I had to lock Lizzy up in the bathroom and change the bed sheets regularly when Denise stayed over because I usually let Lizzy sleep in my bed. I didn’t enjoy doing that for Denise. In those few months that we dated, she was pretty inspired to write; she even called me her muse. So that was nice. One night, she wanted mushrooms again, which was fine, except that she puked. Instead, I made her magic mushroom tea, which had a mellower effect on her than the first time. She still hallucinated and mistook me for Andrew.
Now that hurt. I began to lose interest in almost everything that Denise did. I only kept her around to be her muse for a little longer, despite hating her stories. For all I knew, I thought I was still her muse.
I would let her fall asleep in my arms so that I could smell her baby breath. I never knew why I couldn’t stand it.
I only met Andrew a few times on our double dates. You would assume the girls would talk to each other about cosmetics and former high school crushes, and the boys would talk about sports and drugs, but none of that happened. He was timid in my presence but enjoyed the girls’ attention – every single bit of it. He struck me as an arrogant little prick, but no shit, he was a beautiful fella, as if Monroe and James Dean had a baby.
And, of course, Denise and Andrew went on a first date together after we’d split. I would’ve expected her to spend more time with Lindsay before jumping straight into the next game, which wasn’t hers to play.
Funnily enough, Lindsay caught me in the car across the coffee shop, watching Andrew and Denise. She knocked on my window, waving lightly.
“Hi John, I guess you didn’t expect this either, did you?” she said.
“Oh, I did.”
“I think I’ve seen enough. Do you mind taking me home?” I gestured for her to hop in, and in this instant, I noticed Denise leaning quickly over the table to kiss Andrew. Then she blushed and laughed.
When Lindsay got in the car, I didn’t realise she sat on my mushrooms kept in a Ziploc bag.
“Oh, sorry,” she said and then, “Fuck me, is it what I think it is?”
I looked back inside the coffee shop and saw them holding hands this time. I decided not to look again because they might be fucking next.
“Do you like cats?” I asked Lindsay.
When we entered my basement, Lizzy instantly greeted us. It was good that somebody other than me treated her nicely.
Lindsay fumbled around with the Ziploc bag, examining my mushrooms. “These have darker caps. What are they called again? Baeocystis?”
“I’ve seen those,” she said. “They go blue in the rain…Are you going to take some with me, John?”
“I don’t know.”
I didn’t eat much, so that it would hit me hard. I watched Lindsay open the Ziploc bag and grab a small piece. She placed it on my mini scale on the table and said, “I usually start with a couple of milligrams and possibly more. This is most likely going to be a three to four-hour trip for me, John. I hope it’s ok for you.”
The next thing I saw, she placed one piece in her mouth and held her nostrils closed.
“I swear it tastes worse each time I do it, yuck! But isn’t it crazy what it does to your mind?”
I watched her eat another one. I suddenly saw myself out in the forest, picking my mushrooms. Mushrooms have always fascinated me – anything that grows out of decay and rot. I found a dead fox in the woods once. Judging by the maggots pushing through its guts, it had been dead for at least a week. Its head was leaning against a rotting log on which I’d found this psilocybe species. That log was also catching fire as I wandered through a wildfire-endangered zone, where I would usually find the best mushrooms. I dehydrated my mushrooms, so they lasted longer. I dried them in a food dehydrator.
I opened my eyes to a blowjob. Looking down, I saw Lindsay naked and sucking hard. She almost struck me as a TV channel with bad reception. My black cat on the counter suddenly became the size of a panther – very majestic looking. When Lindsay stood up, she appeared so tall; her body stretched into the ceiling. I almost forgot how much I disliked taking shrooms with people – they became ugly long stick figures. And I was unable ever to look them in the eye again. That was the main reason I never took shrooms with Denise. I couldn’t remember how much I ate, but it must’ve been a lot if Lizzy had turned into a panther. Surprisingly, things I loved would turn into something grand and beautiful, whereas everything else would mirror decay and death.
“You have to go,” I said to Lindsay.
“Are you kidding me? I can’t be alone like this?” I watched her get dressed as though expecting me to throw her out instantly, or she felt ashamed and vulnerable being naked. Before she put her bra back on, I approached her with a bucket and rammed my fingers down her throat.
First, she gagged, and I held the bucket in her face.
I went outside to look at the moon. It appeared closer than usual. I felt better looking at the sky, though, because the streets were curling in or spiralling down. That was a sign that I was highly hallucinating. Usually, I’d only see things extend into the sky, but I couldn’t see further than that. It’s not always easy to maintain a rational mind, confirming that what you see is not real. When feeling low, I tend not to take mushrooms because they mess with my emotional thinking, leading me to dig a little too deep. I didn’t know why, but I had to watch Denise and Andrew have sex. If they were stick figures, then I really had to see it. On my way there, I felt like walking in loops – into the sky and then back to the ground. The only way to realign my sense of direction was to look at the street names. The moon was close and looked like a big ball of cheese that was about to devour me. And by all means, this would’ve happened if I had let it. By the time I arrived at the campus, it was almost midnight. The entrance doors were all locked, leading me to climb the balcony into the common room and kitchen. Everything I was touching or holding on felt like unbaked bread dough, so there was always this sensation of losing grip and falling backwards. I couldn’t remember how much I took, possibly over 10 milligrams, judging by how I felt.
I entered a common room of stick figures, the music in the background sounded like cheap contemporary pop. One person approached me and said something like:
“Long time no see, dude. Here to see Denise? Oh, I wouldn’t!”
Laughter filled the room, but it faded instantly, and they were occupied with something else. I smelt liquor, some sort of cheap vodka. I walked out through the door into the hallway to look for Denise’s dorm room. The hallway doubled in size, with the far end merging into each other –just where I needed to go. I focused harder and kept on walking until I reached her door. It wasn’t close. As I carefully pushed it open, I saw two human bodies – as clear as day.
Moreover, I recognized Denise’s flawless body on top of Andrew’s body, except that her head was a fireball. Both looked over, it was strange how I could see Denise’s face through the flame. Andrew looked normal as usual until Denise got off him, so they were no longer touching. That was when Andrew’s body turned into a stick figure.
“It’s not how it looks, John!” Surprisingly enough, these words were coming out of Andrew’s mouth, not Denise’s. He was getting dressed, whereas Denise remained naked, with her fireball head slightly tilted.
“Please, John, you have to believe me!” he said.
“Get out of here,” I said to him.
He began to sob, putting his shoes on and then walked past me out of the room. I approached Denise and grabbed her by the neck. She held my wrist as I pressed her hard against the wall. The curtains caught fire from her fiery head—the flames were spreading fast.
“What’s your biggest fear, Denise?”
The fire alarm went off instantly. Denise was still twitching and kicking until I threw her to the floor. Her head was touching the bed sheets and clothing on the chair—catching immediate fire. All I saw were mushrooms growing on a rotting log, a log that no one bothered to pick up or use as firewood. Denise’s head was resting on that rotting log. She looked dead and pale, with blood running down the side of her mouth. But this was not what I wanted. I covered my eyes, breathed in the smoke and opened my eyes again.
Denise was lying there unconsciously. She was naked but still as beautiful as always – curvy hips, flat tummy, and her head no longer a fireball. I gently picked her up and walked out. Students were storming out of the common room, pushing through the fire exit door. Instead of following the fire regulations, I walked back into the common area and laid Denise’s body on the couch. Nobody was there, but it still reeked of cheap vodka. The hallucinations had gone. I usually could tell by feeling exhaustively tired. The dreaming effect was wearing off, leaving a depressing cloud of soberness hanging over me. And that was my deepest fear – an ugliness that came with ageing, as that was all I could think about when depressed. You were only able to see that after being high. It varied from person to person. To some, it was an epiphanic moment, like when you had a revelation. But all I wanted was to die. Denise’s beauty was unbearably heartbreaking, so bad I had to cry.
My phone was vibrating. It was a text message from Lindsay saying that she’d wiped her puke all over my place. Also, Lizzy ran away because I’d left the door open. Lastly, she called me an arsehole.
The fire had spread fast down the hallway. And with the common room door not closing correctly, the flames were inviting themselves in, hopping from one vodka spill to the next. I became more tired and rested my head on her naked chest. Her heart was still beating.
by P-chan (c) 2019