I woke up on my keyboard, head pounding like it was locked in a basement. I stood and my legs quivered, to move anywhere without falling I had to slide one foot in front of the other. I shuffled from desk, through hallway, into the living room; James jumped up from the couch when he saw me. “Pam went home to get a shower but I figured I should stay. You’ll never guess-”
I raised a hand to stop him. “Please.” The ache intensified, made my temples bulge with every pulse of pressure; I used my free hand to try and rub away the pain. It didn’t work. “You have some?”
“Some what?” James’ confusion annoyed me.
I waved him away from the couch, collapsed, face first, onto the cushions where he’d been laying. I dragged my face to look up from the couch and its fabric drew out a string of saliva that slapped onto my chin, “Fucking weed man. Got it or not?”
“…You made it a condition of my being here that I didn’t; if you’re asking in general though, yeah, I have a sac at my place.”
“Kay.” I shoved my face back into the couch, darkness, unnecessarily shut my eyes. “Grab it, I’m sleep until you and Pam are back.”
“Aren’t the Muses going to be angry?”
“Fuck them,” I said, coughed out skunk fart smoke, “I’m angry.” Another cough, hit, cough again, “Or, at least, I was. Heheheh. What went down when I was in my room?” I asked and handed off the blunt. James and Pam’s voices stumbled over one another, provided two different accounts of what’d happened; the only thing they both agreed on was that, at some point in the battle, James had thrown his shoe. I stopped them, “You two are terrible at telling stories.”
Pam puffed, looked at me, then James. “At least we get to choose how to tell it.” She and James laughed, I leaned back into the couch.
“Fuck man,” James chuckled one last time, unzipped his backpack, “If the weeds already making us forget who knows where we’ll be after this.” His hands came out of the bag with two pieces of plastic; he laid a chopped at the bottom, hole in the cap, water bottle on the table then went to the sink with the bigger, teddy-bear-shaped container and filled it to the nose with water.
“How much did that cost?” James scoffed to answer my question, he continued his set-up, retrieved a small dirty glass funnel from a different pocket of his bag which he then shoved through the hole in the cap.
“Smoky is a creation of mine.” James said and dropped the half bottle into the water; it sunk slow, the air between water and the bottle’s plastic had nowhere to go but out of the funnel’s tiny opening. When it’d gotten to the half point James pushed it down and a spray of ash clouded the air above.
Pam cocked her head to the side. “How’d you think of it?”
“Only you can prevent forest fires.” James said with a smile.
“Ugh, besides watching old commercials on YouTube.”
James had a bud of weed above the funnel, between his fingers, which he then broke apart and packed into the glass. “First thing I ever smoked out of was a water bottle bong, the second was an apple, third a pop-can… stoners get a bad rep for being lazy cause no one counts all the different ways we smoke.
This is a gravity bong, I made my first one in high school and it taught me more about physics than class ever did.”
I rolled my eyes. “Cause you slept all the time.”
He sparked the lighter, held the flame close to the packed full bowl then lifted the water bottle up; the green caught fire, smoke shot down into the bottle, pooled against the water. “After unscrewing,” He undid the bottle’s cap immediately slid his palm over the opening, “All you gotta do is push.” He moved his hand and put his lips around the rim, hands pushed down on the bottle; with nowhere to go but up the smoke rocketed into his lungs.
He leaned back, exhaled, packed Smoky again then moved so Pam could take her turn; she did, but not as well as James, she hacked, gagged, had to run to the sink to spit. “You bastard.” She managed to say after a drink directly from the faucet; when she sat down again her eyes were half-closed.
That’d made me nervous, but I’d asked for the situation, and James was already packing it again; he lit it, dragged the plastic up, unscrewed the cap and waved me over. I shut my eyes, closed my lips around the bottle-
I was crying, was I sad? Tears were definitely coming from my eyes; how’d I end up on the floor?
My brain resumed working but the rest of my body had apparently given up on me, I had no control: cough, convulse, choke, repeat. Smoke came out with every breath, after the fifth time I realized James and Pam had gone silent; something was wrong. The little bit that I was able to open my eyes showed me that the smoke, instead of rising as was normal, had collected into three separate sets of feet in front of me; as I continued to cough the vaporous anatomy grew, legs, chest, arms- I finished, could breathe again, when three men were fully constructed.
What was smoke one moment turned to flesh the next. “Don’t panic.” Said the materialized man with a charcoal smudge of black hair. We were too stunned, and stoned, to do anything.
A different one, made distinct by his sharp haircut and sharper chin, stepped forward. “Some people are just born human, the rest of us, we take a lifetime to get there.”
“Even nothing cannot last forever.” The last one, with long dark-brown hair and a thick beard, said then walked up to me with me his hand out. “I’m Neil, that’s Chuck,” Sharp chin nodded, “And Douglass was the first to talk to you. We’re the other Muses.”
I took his offer of help, got to my feet and almost fell over. “Whoa.” I steadied myself, took a breath, “Aren’t you guys supposed to be monsters or something?”
Neil shook his head. “Think, Eddy; reality is perception, the other Muses got to you first, and you shared their message with your friends.”
“What was it they called us this time?” Chuck asked.
“Destructive influences.” Pam threw into the conversation without moving from the couch.
Douglass was at the stove, examining a dishrag. “If it wasn’t for the drugs you’d still see us as such.” He put it down, disappeared into the bathroom.
“Azackly!” James looked like he wanted to hug the Muses, “I knew drugs weren’t bad. I bet with the right combo we could get in contact with some pretty crazy sh-
You guys would know. What would coke do? Adderall? Acid?”
Douglass returned from the bathroom with a white towel draped over his shoulder, “First two accomplish the same thing,”
“And the last isn’t worth doing when we’re around.” Chuck finished his sentence.
“Why not?” Even I was curious.
Neil once again took hold of the conversation, “LSD allows a person a glimpse into the same dimension that holds the strings tying the universe together, where we come from. We’re made of the same stuff, and when six beings of pure fatal energy are around, and it’s enough to overload an entire town…
Can you imagine what a fly feels like in a spider’s web? That sense of terror when its thousand different views pick up a black mass gliding over the same things that tangled it? The pinch of fangs in flesh, poison in veins?
You don’t want to get tangled when whatever made the web is paying attention.
We should stay on the subject though, we’re only here for as long as you’re all this high; we’re here to offer you a choice Eddy, a chance to regain some control in this situation.