“This is fucking dumb,” James complained and flopped onto my living room couch, “Ain’t no reason I can’t smoke outside.”
“The Muses said it was our job to fight destructive influences; drugs definitely fall into that category.”
Pam turned from looking out of the window. “Haven’t you smoked before?”
“Not the point.” James took up every cushion, wouldn’t move, I slid onto the couch’s shoulder to continue my defense, “The Muses even being here means that my mind is capable of producing something amazing. They changed the world in a blink of an eye, threatened me sure, but they still need to use my brain; why sabotage my only advantage?”
“Don’t be dramatic.” James sat up, looked at me with one eyebrow higher than the other, “We’ve smoked boo-koo blunts and you’re still here, in the position of the great interpreter or whatever.”
“Right, and now that I know better-”
“The high road? Really? Not wanting to do drugs is one thing but saying you’re above those that do is just-”
“Right if a person is debilitated by their habit.” Pam, still looking out of the window, chimed in.
I nodded. “And last time I checked breaking the law always has consequences.”
“Oh come on,” James threw his arms up, “Weed is a bridge, not bomb, it gets the user places, doesn’t destroy anything. It’s illegal now, sure, but like two hundred years ago so was Pam even being in school. Don’t talk about right and wrong if you want to talk about laws, they stopped being hand in hand before we were born; cops have the power to ticket someone for crossing the street in the wrong spot.
Smoking is okay in some places, not in others, but if the point of society is to provide a hospitable environment in which a person can flourish, which it is, villainizing an activity with no inherent negatives, that makes food taste better and whatever you’re sitting on softer, that you can stop doing and experience no ill-effects past a bad attitude, isn’t an advancement towards the end-goal. Perpetuating a stigma rooted in ignorance is a leap in the wrong direction.”
“I think I see them.” Pam waved us over to the window; James and I crowded around, peeked out; there was nothing to see. “I swear there were just three shadows…”
There was a cough behind us, we turned; Ernest, Ray, and K stood in different spots around the room with the same smug look on their faces. “Ready to get started, good.”
“Pam, James, if you couldn’t tell these are the Muses.”
Pam eyed them suspiciously but James showed no fear, brought out his lighter, walked towards Ernest with flame in hand, “What’s that, a Cuban? Spark it up, pass it around.”
Ray rolled his eyes. “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”
“Eddy, you’ve explained the situation to these two?” K asked.
Ernest tapped James’ head with his cigar. “This one doesn’t seem to understand the gravity.”
“Don’t talk down to us, we know what’s going on” Pam stepped forward, “If you’re really in direct communication with Fate you shouldn’t be asking questions; maybe you’re the ones who’re clueless.”
“Wit like a murderer’s knife.” Ray nodded at Pam then looked at me, “At least one of your friends will be useful in battle.”
“I’m useful.” James muttered.
“Battle?” I wanted clarification; I was sure they’d never used that word before.
K had moved to the window. “We’ll fight the opposing influences out here while you write in your room.”
“Absolutely not.” I stepped next to Pam. “I’m not letting my friends risk themselves for-”
“You’re right.” Ernest interrupted me, paced around the small space, “You’re not letting anyone do anything. None of us have a choice here.”
“I do. I’m not doing it, I-” Pain. Pain. It was a problem, intense, all I could think about, even standing was too much, I crumbled; fetal position felt right but not better, the problem was in my head, beating at my skull trying to get out. Nerves, the same that instinctually move hands away from flames, took me to my room, set me up in my chair, opened a new word document.
The blank page sent the pain away; the press of a button sent me into its white.
It was overwhelming, everything, an absolute infinity; dots appeared on the horizon, grew over time, as they passed me or I them I tried to read but was unsuccessful. More came, more times I tried, failed; the flow intensified, white became black, an ocean of nothingness, the last words to complete the darkness rolled in slow: ‘Reality is perception.’
The message didn’t make what was happening any clearer but it allowed me a different view; the black shrunk, became smaller until it was still distinct but nothing more than a stream of color, my consciousness. I tried to grab hold of the rest of the words’ meaning but my hands slipped off a period, a comma gave me a papercut; the words themselves I could understand but their structure, message, was beyond me.
I was an outsider to my own thoughts.