Charles Pendelton
      © 2008 Marty Langdon
Chapter 31

                 The shattered mind

We went from the antechamber in the basement to the kitchen area, where I
stood near the kitchenette. Rich plopped himself down in a chair at the kitchen
table while running his hands over the smooth marble mosaic that would have
been hypnotic to look at had there not been so many objects placed upon it.

As much as I wanted to sit down, I was terrified because of the lurid object
dangling above. Rich appeared to be attentive and alert, but still, there was
something bugging him. He would begin scratching his arm and then stare
at it blindly, before falling into fits of unstoppable laughter. He then began
to blurt out words at random, and I wondered what my parents would have
thought of such irrational behavior. The walls of his padded cell were being
fastened together as his little mind slowly became unhinged.

Indeed, I had truly misjudged the effects of this drug, and the emotional
state of the user was something I hadn't even factored into the equation.

Had Peter been found before the wheels were set in motion, the whole
Huguenot endeavor would certainly never have transpired. And God
knows what would have been written in its place, if anything at all.

There was a wicked spirit around the kitchen sink that had somehow managed to
absorb itself into the intricate fabric of the argent metal. The faucet now seemed
to be empowered with a form of kinetic energy I had not witnessed before. There
were unusually small bursting patterns within the alloy composite, which I could not
define logically, and it appeared as though they were trying earnestly to make my eyes
sparkle. Considering that my pupils were already dilating (under the spell of this
fantastic hallucinogen), I didn’t want it to go any further. Had they dilated entirely,
that would have probably caused the reality I currently knew and understood to
disappear completely, leaving me in a fictitious cartoon-like world of suspended
animation indefinitely. . . A void I may never have been able to fathom or exit.

As I watched them gyrate and spin, I found myself falling into a mild trance,
such vivid color in so little space. To follow the contrast of variegated hues
through a psychedelic door that revolves without ever turning is like spinning
a coin on a table, only to realize that it will never stop.

You enter, though it doesn't open.
You leave, but you were never there.

Then like an exploding daydream, I was awakened from my trance.

The long slender arm-like mouth of the high arc spout was attempting to reach me,
while at the same time, that insane laughter behind me was beginning to abrade my
senses. Since I was busy analyzing and examining things, I couldn't be there for him.
I presume this is why he withdrew into his own little world. Within that plastic bubble
in the realm of his own containment, he began pressing his upper and lower lips
together, before throwing his lips out. This action made a very strange popping noise.
Every time he did it, he would convulse in laughter.

I wanted to tell him to be quiet, but that would only have made him sad.

I would not let anything in the universe be sad today, because that is a
reflection on our souls. You get too many of them, and God puts you on fire.

As I focused my attention on the ethereal movement of the divine sink faucets, I began
to think frighteningly loud. The aliens have metallic compounds very similar to this.
I believe they left some of it in Roswell. I'm pretty sure if the Central Intelligence
Agency were to barge in here right now and see I'm seeing, there is no doubt in
my mind I would be taken somewhere far away and killed.

As the magical arc spout (with an atomic structure of infinite proportions) extended
itself outwards toward me, I was pretty sure it wanted me to pet it or at least touch
it to make some kind of human contact, thus forming a bond of friendship. Of course,
I couldn't risk any transference, so I respectfully declined by carefully showing my
two hands before rubbing them together in an accelerated motion.

Why I did this, I will never know.

But I will tell you with certainty that all that ‘we come in peace’ stuff that I was
so intrigued with as a child was still floating around in my head. And in that
precise moment in time, everything was clearly revolving around perception.

                                                                               Pg 153

Why I refused to touch it, however, was simple.

If you take into account that mercurial silver, that Non-Newtonian ferrofluid. Once
you initiate contact, there is a very good chance some of it is going to stick around.
I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if any trace elements got on me, they would
either leave patches of invisibility or they would be absorbed through my skin, and I
would begin to suffer the effects of toxic shock. I was already invisible in life. I didn't
need to be any more transparent, and I certainly didn't want to go into shock from an
illusion. Suddenly, the sparkling spout began to lose its shimmer and was no longer
appealing to my senses. Then it drooped as if it were going to rest its slender neck at
the rim of one of the small frying pans in the sink filled with water and begin drinking.

No, that wasn’t it. I had made it sad. I had destroyed something beautiful by
being overly cautious, and now I was not playing by the rules of the game.
immediately I felt a rush of sadness flowing upward from within,
and my
eyes burned like fire. Throwing my hands on my face; I must have
like the boy who had just witnessed both parents being executed.

Watching me with an intuitive stare, that lifelike mechanical dummy released
a screech so horrifyingly loud, I spun around full circle, hitting the stove.

In his achromatic world of redundancies,
there lies a harsh truth, just waiting to be discovered.

As I looked at my friend in shock, the elusive stained-glass lighting fixture
was within inches of my face. Before it could snap shut like a Venus fly
trap, I dropped to the floor and scrambled into the living room.

“Wow, I thought, now I can’t go into the kitchen.”

In anger, I began to wonder why he screamed like someone was cutting off
his limbs. His actions made no sense at all. He's disrupting the balance of
time; I screamed into the gray region of all abandoned thoughts before
composing myself. The only way to enter the kitchen was to crawl like a
toddler, and I had no intention of doing that. Aside from the onerous task
of having to quiet that screaming head in the kitchen, I first had to figure
out how to get back in the kitchen without being compromised.

Just then, it began to dawn on me. . . He's the head of Candor!

                   That lunatic almost sent me to Hell.

Standing beside the bookcase and the oversized rectangular table used only for
special occasions, I began to wonder. Staring straight ahead, I noticed the radio
on the wall. Carefully, I pressed the black button on the living room stereo system,
and it quickly turned on. The in-wall speakers produced a dazzling clarity that
illuminated my mind. My timing was off, for a song was already playing. . .

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids.
In fact, it's cold as hell.
And there's no one there to raise them if you did.

And in all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week. . .

The song being transmitted over the airwaves was one I particularly didn’t
care for but hearing it now, with the cosmos expanding before my very eyes,
it became so endearing to me, I could not stop listening. Who could have
known that the singer, forty years later, would completely alter the song by
keeping only the chorus and adding new lyrics? With a duet formed and the
song became popular once more. In an age of technology-ridden contrivances
where anything is possible, sometimes we have to ask ourselves a question.
Have we gone far enough yet? When the song ended, I turned off the radio.

It was now back to the old drawing board,
where I casually ran through a scenario of plans.

                             The Paupers - Magic people

After mulling over the situation, I came to the conclusion that 'Plan B'
was my only alternative. Bearing that in mind, I crawled into the kitchen
on all fours, and the venomous light simply could not reach me.

                          Now the thing was furious.

As the unhingement of time began to accelerate the process of all living things,
I almost felt like I was in-between worlds. Watching myself crawling around
on the floor like an infant did not make me feel like a fool at all because my
thoughts were elsewhere. I was challenged by the notion of all I had created
and was disassembling theories, which could, in turn, link everything ‘I was’
to an undetected vantage point in time.

A mysterious phantom was taking notes from the furthest corner of a black
hole that had propelled itself into my thoughts. It was moving at light speed
toward my eyes as they raced to see the cosmic galaxy from afar. The brilliant
burning glow from the flowery lamp that swayed awkwardly in the kitchen
held the answer to the enormous puzzle known as life.

Past, present, and future were about to collide in an astonishing display one could
only hope to imagine. Where the hapless sorrows of bitter wreaths are hung on
timeworn doorsteps that have been steeped in the anguish of human suffering.

Malfeasant laws contrary to either world shall be disregarded when the partition
binding the seasons of time finds itself bare. An entire generation of humble hosts
shall soon be coated in radiant love, for the babes that awaken tomorrow shall be
pardoned of the sins I bore today. I dwelt on this distorted notion for a moment.

I then smiled wryly because I knew it was all a game.
An insightful game that ‘in return’ ends up playing ‘you.’

Entering the bathroom, I flicked the switch, and that coffee-colored room came
alive. As my eyes panned over the rustic brown ceramic tiles laid out in a pattern
that appeared to resemble interlocking bricks, I came to notice its artistry.

Not only was every tile considerably different, but each rectangular piece could
also be measured in depth. Like artwork of the underworld, whatever one perceives
shall be manufactured in the stone. Call it ‘sleight of hand’ if you will, because
whatever I envisioned, I saw and could change simply by altering what I chose
to see. It was just like being in a magician’s workshop where your very thoughts
could be brought to life through objects. It was madness in a whole new light.
It was indeed a gift.

Exiting the bathroom, I could feel the effects increase.

As I motioned to the right and flicked on the light switch to my father's office, 
my eyes found that hideous bright yellow desk and the three mind-blowingly
yellow draws to a cabinet of the same manufacturer. For me, it was always
too loud and offensive. Too bright for my eyes, and I've always shunned it.

But on the eve of this day, it was captured in such a marvelous light that I
found it to be enthralling, if not completely eye-catching. I realized there was
nothing like it in the modern world of contemporary art, nor could anything
be found in today’s world of home décor. It was an artifact from the age of
psychedelia that only remained because my father saw something in it that
others didn’t. The design was comprised of rectangular blocks put together
in such a way that it formed a desk. Aside from some building plans, writing
implements in a cube made of cork, and an empty cup of coffee he must have
finished this morning, the only thing that seemed to look out of place was the
orange plastic beehive lamp. That was only because the small room had more
than adequate lighting, and so I guess that is why it was never turned on.

Perhaps, my dad was really hip after all. I mean, he still has a stash of weed
tucked away on the top shelf of the book cabinet. He told me he saved it as
a memento from when he took me up to the mountainous hills of New York
in 1967, where we swam with the hippies and the flower children, totally
naked and without a care in the world. Yes, it was the Summer of Love,
but I do not recall ever hearing that term during this period of time.

Neither do I remember women with flowers in their hair, probably because they
were all in the lake swimming peacefully and enjoying the effects of mother nature.
I do remember them being quite hairy, with areas that seemed to resemble beards
covering their private areas and long hair flowing from their armpits. They all
appeared to be sweet and kind as they watched me swim around like a little fish
that had not yet reached his fourth birthday. When it came to the water, I could
swim faster than anyone and could have stayed in there all day. Dad remained
nearby as I motioned about like a squiggly brown eel in the murky water basin.

He listened to songs like San Francisco by Scott McKenzie, and he loved
Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter Paul and Mary; yet somehow, I think that
in his quest for monetary delights, he lost a little part of himself. The part of
him that always drew me near and wanted to understand more about him.

Turning off the light, I decided it was best to allow the late 1960s to rest in that
darkened room of its own stillness. After all, it was now alive in my mind and
would probably always be. And that was enough to produce in me a faint smile.

Strolling through the kitchen, I calmly slid open the glass door to the external
world. I needed some air, so a walk in the backyard, I figured, would do me
some good.  No sooner did I step outside did I hear an unusual movement, or
should I say, rustling by the back fence. I then saw something peering out at me
from the darkness. “What the hell is that?” I thought, so loud it made an echo.

As I took a closer look, I realized it was a massive spider.
Holy shit, this thing was huge. From afar, I would say it had
to be the height of an oversized milk crate or a medium-sized
dog. My psyche bore witness to the grand illusion, and the
door that held man's greatest fear was suddenly unbolted.

Solely, the inner aspect of my fear had been affected, nothing
more. Those thoughts, which can present themselves from an
incident or an instance of unpleasantry, shall become more
powerful than Satan’s Army marching out of Hades.

I then felt an inner conflict building.

“What is that?”
“That is not real.”
“I know it's not real, but what is it?”
“It's an illusion, you know this.”
“I am well aware that it is only an illusion,
but if it gets into the house and corners me,
then I'm going to know what it's like. . .

o be the girl with a centipede in her twat.”

That pure unbridled terror of horrific circumstances soon to
could indeed paralyze my mind, turning
me into a non-functioning
creature. Whereby reducing my mentality to a head of lettuce.

They were not crawling on me,
but I could surmise they were coming.

                                                                               Pg 154

Arachnids of all shapes and sizes were creeping around out there. 
They were getting ready. They were preparing themselves. Like a
bee who senses its hive is in danger will attack without mercy.
I have to close all the vents and windows. I can't go near the dining
room because that 
window is directly facing the spider.

If worse comes to worst, I'll lock myself in the bathroom and wait for a moment of
lucidity. I know this isn't really happening. The only thing real about it is how one's
own fear can empower the imagination. If not for a mind-bending drug, I would
not have found myself tangled up within the pages of a science fiction novel.

Some might say that for the cost of a few shillings, the whole experience would
certainly be worth it. I beg to differ. Playing ball in the park with other teens,
and playing God with a head full of acid are two totally different things.

As I peered through the window, I happened to connect with the
object in the yard. It was the old rundlet cask my father removed
from the basement last month.

How could I have forgotten it was there?

That dull gleam was simply the lights reflected from the park
shining upon the old barrel. The metal hoops encircling the
barrel were merely holding the wooden staves in place. It
was not the eyes of a ferocious spider eying me down.

How foolish was I to even think along those lines.

I solved the problem, and the nightmare was gone. If I tried, I probably couldn't
make it return. The mind can only be put at ease when a problem is solved or
a solution is found. When all logic fails, it’s best to get a good night’s rest.
Of course, being in the present situation would not afford me that luxury.

*I was now entering a state of total peace*

However, I still had to be extremely careful around that light fixture hanging
above the kitchen table, the one crafted from stained glass and lead and then
wrought into the shape of a flower. There was a certain flux within it that made
me feel as though it were mocking me to some degree. Also, there was now a
wavering effect in the light, very similar to a bending mirror at a sideshow.

When you stand next to it, it distorts your size.

How clever the mind in its affinity towards ever knowing
the requisite capacity to assimilate lies unresolved.

There was now a hideous distortion in the way that it was bending. I could follow
a current of energy flowing through its veiny petals, as if two big magnets were
using their polarity to stretch its sides, or was it trying to open? This I could not
surmise, but it had a sinister motive and truly appeared to be sneering at me as
if ridiculing me for something I had done to it in the past. It was my father who
almost broke your cylindrical body when he was unscrewing it last month to
change your damn light bulb and clean your stained-glass housing. . .

I should not be held accountable for his error in judgment.

I then told it I was sorry in an overly sympathetic voice in

my head before pausing to reflect in silence, fist to mouth.

Imagine that; I had apologized to an inanimate object.
This perennial nightmare
swaying gently before me in my
warped perception when in fact, I had done no wrong.

Indeed, I fell for the greatest hoax of all time!

The fact that I was deathly afraid of it striking me could in no way be abolished.
My sole concern was that if it did, would I be able to stave off the infection before
my brain sent it coursing throughout my entire system, contaminating everything
in its immediate path. I did not wish for this to end in an all-out war.

Ask yourself this, and I quote: "Is there anything worse in this life than
being invaded or infiltrated by the one thing you are most terrified of?"

Have you any idea how traumatic something like that can be to your psyche?
If you did, you would understand why I refused to stand near that table.

I have read in numerous journals that the omnipresent danger of psychedelic drugs
and the risks associated with each use increase dramatically with every increment.
Meaning that people have been left severely traumatized, have committed suicide,
or have caused harm to themselves or others from far less than the current dosage
we ingested only hours earlier. And with the amount of weed I smoked in the bong,
I just upped the dosage. The way I look at it is simple, and that is, if we can control
our minds, then we can control our lives. Surely, I need no assistance here.

Life in itself was quotidian, marked by mundane functions of mind and body performing
a task or enjoying a luxury. We go to work. We come home. We drive to the market.
We drive home. Why does everything we do have to be drowned in normalcy?

Why can’t we have ‘a day of being’ to find within ourselves who we really are?

To dabble in the illusion without being persecuted for it? From time to time,
I find this is necessary, but is it really so wrong? It’s not like I’m going to
destroy my life by going crazy. I know what I’m doing, or I wouldn’t be here.

Considering all the hostility forming in the electric flower,
every step was met with intense apprehension and fear.

“Maybe,” I thought to myself, “just maybe. . .
“I am beginning to learn that now.”

                                                                               Pg 155

A mellifluous voice within my mind gave me the rundown on life.

Everything’s right and everything’s wrong,
when everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.

Time was now at an ebb and flow, and I was somewhere in the middle of it.

Memories that were mine and memories that weren’t flooded my senses
and made me hold my head in a half smile. I was baffled and awe-struck,
and I wasn’t quite sure if I should sit down or begin doing an Irish jig.

Just then, it turned itself toward me, and I backed up
like I was moving away from the snake charmer’s basket.

God knows I wasn't getting any closer to it.

Like Belladonna, that deadly nightshade had already begun to poison the air.
How quickly it burgeoned from a harmless artifact into a total mind threat,
vershadowing the landscape with its flower petal-turned wasp-like wings
humming to the tune almost effortlessly, covering my cerebral cortex with
a gentle layer of film. It infused me with terror and instilled in my heart
an intense desire to abolish it.

Indeed, the one with no authority certainly seemed to produce the most of it.

My thoughts were shattered by a hideously unnerving laugh.

In a spectral light that houses the dormitory of the insane, something
wicked had
begun to grow in its lush pastures. Where the well-seasoned
seer, most proficient in
his trade, uncloaks the nursling from under
his wing only to find he has made
a serious miscalculation. . .

                       *The child's brain had already begun to decompose*

Anyone who chooses to tinker with the internal workings of the human mind will one
day come to realize that the journey he or she has endured was of absolutely no gain.

The lighted flower was acting very unpredictable now, and it was just a matter
of time before it lashed out to strike. Being as how it wasn't swaying more than
a foot in any given direction from where it hung, I decided to give it an extra two
feet, just to be safe. Hopefully, the chain wouldn’t extend. I really didn't think it
would since its pattern of behavior hadn't changed, and it was moving ever so
eerily in slow motion. Had we taken four hits each, I am sure my head would
be halfway down its fiery throat by now, and my brain equidistant to the edges
of a searing hot frying pan. On five, he would have snapped the chain for sure
and ultimately devoured the entire dwelling.

I thought of the moon flowers and how they only bloom at night,
but this son of a bitch runs on electricity. I can't be nice to it
and give it some water, or I'll start a God-damn house fire.

Indeed, the game had taken a sudden turn for the worst, and all
the innocent, playful banter the world had bestowed upon me
hours earlier had all but been reduced to a pile of ashes.

Rich was still acting weird, muttering indistinguishable words and laughing
hysterically. This had been going on since the time of my aunt's departure,
and that was six hours ago. He spoke of Poly-goff-i-cits who lived in a
world of En-terr-um, and all the rest was babble.

What's going on in his mind? That's hard to figure out when a person is not
communicating with you. He's laughing at his life from
‘Funhouse Land’
without a care in the world whilst I have to analyze and attempt to remedy
this whole foolish mess. It didn't seem fair in a way. Whatever was going on
inside him, however, was doing more than I could have possibly imagined.

                                                The Hollies - Stop right there

I turned off the kitchen light, and the evil rose grew tranquil. Keep in mind
that the off switch acted only as a mild sedative.
Its defense mechanism was
still on, for I could hear it hissing audibly.

A warning that I would be very wise to
keep my distance.

Cordially, I summoned my friend into the barrel room. No, this was not a
distilling room but rather a small living room shaped like a barrel. The light-
colored oak flooring strips with darkened auburn circles, when fitted together,
form a very unique half-oval ceiling. At first glance, one would attest that it
was congenial to the eye whether they were high or not, and I marveled at it
as if it were the first time I had seen it. Turning the knob on the television set,
we came upon the Joe Franklin show. Since neither of us understood a word
that he said, we sat there with emotionless faces, and at the same time, I was
mesmerized to watch that magic glass produce life.

While I pretended to wonder why a world full of people would choose
to live inside it, I also wondered what would happen if they suddenly
decided to ‘step out of the box’. To see these colorful one-dimensional
celluloid characters coming to life in the barrel room would be more
than my fragile mind could handle, and I am sure that would have
given my friend but another reason to laugh his damn fool head off.

                                                                               Pg 156

What I really liked about Joe Franklin was that he always seemed happy.
Most of the time, he just sat there in a comical light, reaching for words
that should already be there like a stand-up comic desperately trying to act
the part of a talk show host. As I watched him on that bromidic television
set encased in its sturdy wooden console, I wondered just how many of
these TVs would still be in use a hundred years from now.

I noticed that Joe seemed to be stopping more frequently before rushing to get the
words out. Maybe that apprehension was a defect in his character, but I considered
it to be a part of his own uniqueness. While his facial gestures and hesitant motor
skills made me laugh, I could not stop thinking of someone I once loved dearly.
A woman who meant more to me than any of my parents or siblings combined.
Someone who took my entire world with her when she left.

The only person I cannot bring myself to speak of.

The forbidden lifestyle of the unconventional poet has a damaged
spine and many
pages missing, but the book still reads the same.

To my left was a family portrait next to an open bookcase that appeared to be crafted
from a rather large walnut. Individual pictures of my three siblings stood in separate
frames. My dad and stepmom holding a flag atop Mount Washington rested in another,
while an old monochrome photographic image of my grandparents in a country setting
stood firm in its original silver frame. That picture was taken by a neighbor before my
parents were born. Pieces of a family tree that only I could keep alive by having children
because my dad had three girls, and my Uncle Bob had three girls. My Aunt Gloria who
teaches stenography in California, married but never had children of her own.

Every summer, she returns and has done so for the past fourteen years.

Everyone was there except me.
I'm never around. Why do I even exist?

Sometimes, I feel more like a ghost than I do a living person,
someone who resides on an entirely different level from most
and goes about his daily routine as a solitary creature of habit.

I realize I have no earthly business being here. I’ve cast
myself into the abandonment of a meaningless life with no
hope of ever finding a parody to the malady that ails me.

To live apart from my beloved is my torment.
My hell on earth. My absolute despair.

When at last, I close my eyes for the last time, will I hear
the heavenly trumpet calling me to glory after I've slept
more than a billion years in less than a fetid breath?

Or will I be led into the fire of my own damnation?

As I watched this man inside a box of glass speak openly to an audience of
animated humans, everything inside my head just evaporated. Was I losing
interest, or was it suddenly the time that had begun to drain me? Too many
thoughts would begin to manufacture their own anxiety within me; while good
old Joe was living his life through others. Like an empty shell, I just sat there.

When Joe Franklin bid us farewell, I slowly turned off the television set.

Once again, my friend and I ascended the staircase to the second floor. As the
wind gently exhaled, the curtains to my parent’s room unfurled in a wavy pattern.
When the warm air touched my skin, I could hear my friend laughing hysterically
in my sister Carolyn’s room, where the high grew stronger still. Entering my room,
I wasn't sure what to make of it now. It was becoming drawn out, and I was beginning
to feel peevish, to say the least. I looked up at the skylight and saw the turning point
of a nightmare as it came to life. Similar to the blades of a helicopter as seen through
a focal point in time, it swiveled in a continual motion on an invisible axis, lifting itself
out of the plate which had held it in place for so many years. It then returned to its
original position and repeated the same action until I could watch no more.

“That's it, I thought. The point where everything comes undone, and there's no fixing
a shattered mind. All the cream that has risen to the top of the magical concoction
has spoiled, and I'm really trying to prepare myself for the worst that could possibly
happen because it just might. It should have been starting
to wear off by now, but
it just keeps building in strength. It hasn't reached its peak
yet. All this research
and writing for nothing. My reward for it all was going to be irrevocable lunacy.
Similar to its creator,
I, too had, in fact, found out too late.

Slowly, I am going out of my mind.”

The evening was growing, and I can attest to it because I was watching it grow.
It was more realistic than any television program because it was alive, unscripted,
and living its life through me. Much akin to the way the passing of time abandons
a deranged child in its unkempt seclusion, I myself had been placed somewhere I did
not wish to be, and I was clearly becoming wary. The shock was beginning to set in.  

                    There was no time for forgiveness. . . I already pulled the trigger.

                                       Why is it that every time I win, I lose?

I shuddered like a virgin on a prom date to think that in but a few short moments from now,
   the chemical element that I held in such high esteem would soon have
its way with me.

I didn't know if every insect in creation was going to come pouring out of the crawlspace
and cover me or if my heart would suddenly stop from the stress of anticipating the outcome.

                        Either way, you choose to look at it; there was nothing I could
                          do or say
that would have it release me
from its evil grasp.

                   It would simply have to run its course, and I was too tired to fight.

I am starting to fall, yet I haven't moved. Like a swamp reed swaying gently in the
summer breeze. Until the day of the Lord's judgment, shall I continue to ponder my
undoing. On the eve of this starry night, I have led a lamb to its slaughter. I took an
innocent being and cast him like a sheet to the wind for no other purpose than that
of my own thoughtless experiment. I can almost begin to feel things on my skin
crawling. Whether real or not, it will have no effect on the conclusion of this fiasco.

                                   Surely, I have rolled the dice and lost.

The sensation which had caused my blood to slither was just another obstacle
thrown under my feet. What I do know is something terrible will soon occur,
and I am going to the darkest part of Hell.

                                                                               Pg 157
                             What happens when the ceiling flies away?

                   Will I still hear strange laughter through the darkness,
                                or will the darkness be my only light?

It would be different if Harmony were here with me now.

She could turn a criminally insane nightmare into an unforgettable evening
of insatiable delight with a mere wave of her hand. Without her by my side,
I fear I am in permanent danger of getting lost in the stream of time. Like
timorous man, I sat on the edge of my bed and began to absorb into its
fabric as my mind tried earnestly to unwind.

All the while listening to the rantings of a friend gone mad.

Right there and then, it occurred to me that we are only born to die. There is
nothing we can do about it, for the inevitable is sure to come. Yet, what about
the ravages of time? The curse of growing older and gradually losing your
independence until you're nothing more than a malfunctioning machine that
eventually stops. A babbling old man with the intelligence of a flagpole.

One that holds no flag and is situated in the middle of an isolated forest.

Those days that seem to be light years away are right
around the
corner and will be here before any of us ever come to realize it.
Why is
it that no one ever pauses to give it a second thought?

                                    Maybe we shouldn't.

Once again, I found I had created something I could not control.

Not only did I have to keep myself together, but I had to make sure nothing bad
happened to Richie. Trying to be a guide and a tourist at the same time was like
trying to plant seeds in stone. Not only was it beyond my capacity, but it was futile.

It seemed I was living only to destroy myself, and this time I had
               pulled someone else into the ever-rising sludge of my failed existence.

I cannot function like this. If I do not return to normal, I cannot live like this.
I cannot do anything like this, and I have a very strong feeling that my life is
going to be very different soon. Some things in this life are worse than death
itself, where I'm sure I may be tortured for all eternity; simply because I
chose the path of least resistance.

In time perhaps, new adjustments could be made to my cerebellum. If only to function by
a glass of water. Whether or not I will know what water is or why I must drink it
to sustain my own body, I contemplate trembling. I began to hear a song in my head,
I jotted it down on scrap paper. I never gave it a title, and I never spoke of it again.

Spiders come crawling out of crevice electric.
Day turns night for a while.
Where do you go when you lose your soul?
When your blood runs cold
inside your veins of darkened steel?
Reflected from the path you yielded by day.

It's not easy;
living a brand-new life.
It's not easy,
when you hear strange voices at night
that seem to come from out of the closet
and carry a knife.    

You're alone here, you're the patient.
There's no one there it's only you.
And though you played the game,
you were bound to lose. . .
Am I to die in this padded room?

The clown in the corner sat laughing, and I thought of what I had done.
Knowingly, I lured him into madness through suggestion. Why would I
do such an evil thing? Not yet had he even loved, nor begun to live for
that matter, and I sealed his fate with one deceitful gesture.

Why am I kidding myself?

There is still time for Richie to find someone who can relate to him.
If I can come back intact and unharmed, then I'm sure he will return
unscathed as well.

                                                             The Move - Cherry Blossom

Afterward, when everything had returned to normal again, I found my friend
still laughing and drooling. Trying to hold a conversation with him now was
impossible. Sure, he could travel alone on public transportation or drag his feet
to the store to buy smokes and various sundries, but he would never be able to
hold a job or raise a family; just smoke, laugh, and talk to himself rather openly.
My friend lives in a home now. A home for mentally challenged people, and
that is something I will have to carry around with me for the rest of my life.

Just to know that I destroyed another human being.
A friend who trusted me, I betrayed. Don’t feel bad?  

How the hell am I supposed to feel?

                                                                               Pg 158

It is a terrible but true fact that the people who were once cool will become old,
and everything that was once considered to be the rave will no longer be in fashion,
leaving us to become obsolete as our parents and grandparents have already
experienced. Yes, we shall be replaced by a new generation of people who have
absolutely no knowledge of what anything is about, and the music that was once
so hip shall become irrelevant. Even so, as we enter the stream of middle life, rebel
youth that has taken us part of the way shall fall from us like withered branches. 

When the only thing we are able to focus on is self-preservation,
we know the end is not far away.

At this very point in time, I can almost feel time itself moving,
and in a profoundly morose kind of way, I have once again fallen
under the illusion of being covered in ancient thinning cobwebs.

As it appears, if I were to stand now, my legs would most certainly crumble inside
their dusty shells straight down to the pants cuff. It was merely the environment
of the world we live in attempting to show me that I have, indeed, become a relic.
I am older than I was before, but somehow, everything in this psychedelic world of
flowers and gyroscopes becomes grossly exaggerated; and even though I am still
a teenager, in the swing of things, birth, and death tend to exist in the same breath.

It takes years to grow old but only a mere second to realize you have become old
and will soon perish. That is the trick of time, but if you learn how to master it,
then you could become anything your heart desires.

I knew the grand illusion was nothing more than a great scheme devised by my
own hand to concoct a historic night that would be so memorable it would be
able to stand up to any event that could ever have been remembered in our
nation’s history.
In doing so, I tried to produce a monumental evening that
would have
been forever stamped in the footprint of time, when instead, I
two misfits that would not have the intelligence of a single shoelace.

A shadow of doubt would reflect through the opening of time,
my inner consciousness, personifying the young man who tried
to build a world out of despair and tears but created only ruins.

Something flies into my mouth and is now buzzing around from cheek to cheek.
Opening my mouth, a fly is released and begins to encircle the room. He buzzes
around before landing on a tree in the small village upon my wall. Following
his own senses, he flies into the bell tower of the church over by the clearing
and becomes lost in a dream of his own misdoing. But it seems I have something
more important to concern myself with at present. Trying to remain sane was
only part of the equation, for the whole house was becoming deranged.

The Village East - Building with a steeple

As I gazed at the walls surrounding my room, they appeared to be breathing

in and out slowly. I then placed my hand upon the breadth of its median as
the town scattered, thus allowing me to feel the contractions of life within its
very core. The movement within the wall felt like a rather odd combination
of both water pressure and that of compressed air traveling about.

                       If I become one with the universe, will I also become the illusion?

I ran my hand up and down its fleshy wall while it breathed in gently.
And calmly; I wondered, if I poked it, would it bleed?

Could it feel pain?

If we see something in pain, is it not in pain
because that is what the mind perceives?

I then wondered, who would wish to do harm like this in the
first place? To enjoy making it suffer would be no different
now than to torture an innocent puppy or a helpless child.

Nothing should be wrought to suffer.

No animal, nor insect, nor object, and
especially not another human being.

Something which exists only to live should not be harmed.
It should be allowed to live without any human intervention.

Even if it isn't really real. . .

                                                                                          Am I very wrong?

But still, that thought has me baffled.

Let’s just say, out of pure speculation, if I
were to put a nail in the wall to hang a picture.
Now the wall begins to bleed and cannot stop.

What shall I do?

I may be forced to leave the house.
I did not want to leave this house. . .

Neither did I wish to have an internecine power struggle to deal with.

More than anything else, I did not wish to disrupt the fabric
of my environment, which I was presently enjoying.

Instead, I will watch it grow, the same way one would take pleasure
in observing their own children in their developing stages of life.

When something is beneath your feet,
isn't it better to step over it than upon it?

Even though it takes a greater effort?

All things that live must have some significance
in this world, or they would not ‘be’ in the first place.

Of course, this excludes brain-eating amoeba,
flesh-eating bacteria, and every other microscopic foe
that takes form in a human host to cause illness.

                         “Yes,” I thought aloud, “this is the answer to God’s love.
                    It has to be,” I said with fists clenched and pupils fully dilated.

                                       This made the clown laugh harder still.

Once again, he falls on his back like a sack of potatoes
and begins to bump with fury, his posterior skull to the old
hollow-sounding wooden floor in an accelerated motion.

I tried to ignore him, for he was not with me.

I then waved to one of the workers in the field, and it
did not come as a surprise to see them waving back.

No, I will not hurt you, little people in the field, for you
are truly breathing, and I...
I am on the other side now.

                                                    Apple - The otherside

                                                                               Pg 159

Reviews for chapter 31

Mark Demaio - You were really out of your shoes on this bummer of a trip to nowhere

Sally Diloreto - I do not understand this line, "two worthless misfits
that will not have the intelligence of a shoelace."

Charles Pendelton - If a shoelace and a man who is restrained lay on the ground, the man
who is immobilized will attempt to remedy his situation by escaping. The poor shoelace
will forever remain, because it doesn't have the will to move until the wind blows.


                                                          This review was posted on Feb/16/23




                                            This review was posted on Mar/29/23

                                                             alits29's review




                                                     This review was posted on Apr/1/23
                                                             kanchanninawe's review

                 The Embryo Man
and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 31 - The Shattered Mind

                                                         Reader's Report by kanchan




                                                 This review was posted on Apr/10/23

                                                           iqrabashir871 's review
The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 31 - The Shattered Mind

                                                          Reader's Report by Iqra




                                                            This review was posted on Apr/20/23

                                                                    Reviewed by yashodha_95




                                                               This review was posted on Apr/19/23

                                                                            Hajranoor's review



                                             This review was posted on May/2/23
                                                       Reviewed by aamnaaaa



                                        This review was posted on Jun/15/23

                                    nehanegi1905 's review
The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 31 - The Shattered Mind

                                      Reader's Report by nehanegi1905


                                                              This review was posted on Jul/11/23
                                                                          Reviewed by tawhida



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                                                                         Reviewed by labia_1903


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                                                                      Reviewed by pazkou




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                                                                                   Reviewed by rupalrao



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                                                                      Reviewed by suma303755




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                                                                 Reviewed by sampriktaada813



                                           This review was posted on Oct/31/23
                                                        Tayyaba17's review
The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 31 - The Shattered Mind
                                               Reader's Report by Tayyaba




                                                               This review was posted on Nov/9/23
                                                                         Reviewed by hinaspatel



                                                              This review was posted on Nov/12/23
                                                                      Reviewed by ritikagoyal587



                                                         This review was posted on Jan/14/23
                                                                   Reviewed by sarah1409



                     Saleha Zainab - Jan 17 - Chapter 31


Existential Reflection - The protagonist grapples with questions of purpose, existence, and the transient
nature of life. The text contemplates the inevitability of aging and the passage of time, often with a sense
of disillusionment.

Altered States of Consciousness - Hallucinogenic experiences are explored, highlighting the psychological
consequences and potential dangers of experimenting with substances. The narrative suggests a blurred line
between reality and hallucination.

Regret and Consequence - The protagonist expresses remorse for perceived mistakes, especially the impact
on a friend named Richie. The narrative confronts the consequences of actions and the burden of guilt.

Isolation and Alienation - The protagonist feels disconnected from family and society, contemplating a sense
of being a "ghost" or existing on a different level. This theme of isolation is reinforced through the recurring
absence from family gatherings.

The narrator waves to workers in a field, seemingly acknowledging their presence. This interaction may
represent a connection with simpler, authentic aspects of life or an acknowledgment of the existence of
others in the world.

The narrator muses about the answer to God's love. The clenched fists and dilated pupils suggest intensity
in this contemplation. The laughter of the clown continues, possibly symbolizing the persistence of chaos
or inner struggles.

The phrase "I am on the other side now" might signify a realization, an altered state of consciousness, or a
departure from a previous mindset. It introduces a sense of transformation or a journey beyond a familiar reality.
The concluding lines leave several questions unanswered. The reference to leaving the house, disruption of the
environment, and watching it grow adds an element of uncertainty. The symbolism of bleeding walls and the
fear of harming what exists raise further ambiguities.

The concluding lines leave several questions unanswered. The reference to leaving the house, disruption of the
environment, and watching it grow adds an element of uncertainty. The symbolism of bleeding walls and the
fear of harming what exists raise further ambiguities.

Various elements in the chapter, such as the kitchen sink faucet and stained-glass flower light fixture, can be
interpreted symbolically. The faucet, empowered with kinetic energy, may symbolize the uncontrollable flow
of thoughts and emotions during altered states. The stained-glass flower, initially enchanting, turns sinister,
representing the deceptive nature of perception and the potential dangers of delving into the unknown. The fly
entering the mouth and flying around the room can symbolize intrusive thoughts, chaos, or an unsettling influence.

Its journey through the room mirrors the poet's chaotic mental state. The turning point of a nightmare, observed
through the skylight, symbolizes a moment of realization or awakening. The reference to nightmares may represent
internal struggles or anxieties. The family portrait and open bookcase crafted from a large walnut symbolize the
protagonist's familial roots and heritage. The individual pictures of siblings and older family members contribute to
the theme of familial connection and continuity. The chapter delves into existential themes, questioning the nature of
reality and the self. The protagonist's musings on the nature of life, normalcy, and the desire for a day of self-discovery
suggest a deeper existential exploration.

The hallucinogenic experience becomes a lens through which the narrator contemplates the mundane nature
of daily life and seeks meaning beyond societal norms.

The narrative is presented in a stream-of-consciousness style, with a nonlinear structure that weaves between the protagonist's
reflections on family, personal identity, altered perceptions, and a growing sense of detachment. Symbolic elements, such as
the damaged spine of a book and the family portrait, contribute to the overall complexity of chapter.

Hallucinogenic Experience - The chapter vividly describes the hallucinogenic experiences of the narrator and Rich, taking
the reader on a journey into the surreal. The distorted perceptions of objects, such as the kitchen sink faucet and stained-glass
flower light fixture, serve as metaphors for the unpredictable and sometimes unsettling nature of drug-induced hallucinations.
The narrative explores the thin line between reality and illusion, emphasizing the disorienting effects of mind-altering substances.
Rich's mental state becomes a focal point, portraying the fragility of the human mind under the influence of hallucinogens.

His fits of laughter, irrational behavior, and disconnected speech reflect the potential psychological toll of drug use. The
protagonist's fear of the unknown, manifested in his interactions with objects, highlights the vulnerability of the mind and
the potential for unraveling sanity when faced with the unknown. References to historical events like the Huguenot endeavor
and the Summer of Love introduce temporal layers to the narrative. This adds depth by connecting personal experiences to
broader historical contexts.

The protagonist's reflections on the past, particularly the memories associated with a loved one, contribute
to a sense of nostalgia and hint at the impact of personal history on one's state of mind.

Rating 5/5



                                                           This review was posted on Mar/19/23
                                                            Reviewed by mariya




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