Strangers in the day. Allies by night.

artwork copyright© 2015 joeyfeldman, all rights reserved

By Maven Cade Leary

What kind of a society do we live in that our rare moments of truth are nearly only to be found in drug induced adventures of the most meaningless significance? Where can we go to find meaning beyond the daily drudge of the nine to five rat race maze if not in frivolity, abandon, and ridicule?

Is this only me? Do most of these rat bastards get something I don’t get and never will? Is there a kind of a rhythm, a deeper meaning to the dullness that has so far escaped my fragile mind?

Regardless, such tools as I have at my disposition, I will utilize. If they happen to be fungal, well, all the better. That shit’s natural right? You don’t want your ‘shrooms growing on chemical shit and twist the buzz towards a nasty addictive red-assed baboon on your back…

Everyone’s got their own thing, the axis of their universe, a blind spot in their perception, and things they simply cannot abide.

For me, mediocrity is the silent killer. Quickly followed by routine repetition. Combined, they form a force so great as to make me want to leave this meatsuit behind in search of more interesting realities. The flow of their current is so great as to keep me constantly on edge, always at a moment’s lapse of concentrated effort from tumbling into their abyss never being heard from again.

So when the opportunity came for a midnight bike ride with my brother, a few of my best friends, and some psilocybin allies, I jumped on it like any starved animal, with thoughtless enthusiasm.

In as few words as possible, I was drowning in that moment, loosing the will to hold on. I’ve lived some pretty high peaks, and find that as time progresses, I seek these out with increased angst, always worried there is never going to be another one.

We got the bikes all ready, packed some supplies, and ate our allies raw as the sun began to slip behind the horizon. By the time we made the bike path, it was dark, and that special kind of tension could be felt crawling up out of our plexuses and flooding our bodies with a promise of great and potentially terrible things yet to come.

This little section of the bike-path is entirely in the dark, going from one mid-sized village to a tiny little village maybe twenty clicks away. But there were all kinds of interesting stops to make along the way, and a back and forth rarely takes a bunch of heavy trippers less than four to six hours.

The moon was full and awesome, climbing into the sky right on cue for our debacle. We met a few late bikers, hurrying to get out of the woods before the wolves came out. They invariably had little lights on their handlebars, and while we could see them coming from far, they seemed to be caught completely off guard by our dazed and dark procession.

Our first stop, and nearly our last, was at a little mining tourist trap, the husk of what was once a booming economic force for the locals. It’s a weirdly lit, very grubby little mock up of an old western mining town, with the shitty rusted horse wagon and everything. It’s a depressing scene,  due to both the fact of the place, cheap and run-down, and because of the dead industry it is apparently paying homage too.

That’s when the gods somewhere up there began pissing down on us and almost ruined everything.

It started to rain.

If memory serves right, it was in late summer, early fall. To say it was cold would be overstating it, but it was clearly nippy, and to some, the wet and cold combined with the allies we had consumed made for a very drudgy trip.

One member of our little ka-tet was already turning back, and only my pleading to not succumb to the fear of discomfort was able to hold us together. With my declared resistance naturally fell upon me the task of figuring out our next move.

Fine, you want to stay out here? Well, what the fuck do we do then?

I scrambled to find something, anything, to keep this trip going. The great indoors are something of a horror show to me when I am in this state. All the small little gadgets without any real purpose, the confined spaces, the cubes and rectangles of modernized environments, the dirtiness of the sanitized surfaces, the utter disconcerting lack of LIFE!

No, if they turned back now, I would be alone out here, wandering the fringes of a world I barely grasped lucid, and that currently completely evaded my understanding. How could such frivolous trinkets give a human being a sense of fullness?…

“There’s a mine out here, right? This little freak show is the front for some actual mineshaft?”

I addressed the group as a whole, and surprisingly, it was the would be deserter that spoke up.

“Yeah, there’s a few of them.”

“What do you mean, a few of them? You know where they are?”

“No, not really.” He avoided my stare, seeming oddly uncomfortable about the whole ordeal.

“What do you mean, not really? Either you do, or you don’t.” I felt he was holding back. Perhaps out of fear? Or probably just a hesitancy to give my unbridled curiosity something to latch onto. If I could not find a “reasonable” alternative, I would be forced to follow the group and retreat, right?

“I don’t know. I heard stories and stuff growing up. My great-grandfather and grandfather worked in the mine before it closed. From what I remember, the real opening to the mine is up the hill somewhere. The little one down below is just for show. But I don’t really know fuck all about where it actually is. Just, up there somewhere.”

The rain was already sputtering out. I saw my chance and like an athlete busting through the defence, I pointed to a little road beside the buildings going up, got on my bike, and said : “Like, up there?”

The question was rhetorical. They would have had to come up with a reasonable answer to why the mineshaft was not up there, which they could not do at this point with the limited information at our disposal. But one thing was certain, I had shifted the focus away from the shame of a failed excursion, and towards a tangible objective that could perhaps be obtained.

And so we began our hike up the small mountainside, quickly abandoning our bicycles in the ditch along the way and opting for an easy hike up over a fast and reckless descent. If we had known what was to happen, we likely would have pushed those fuckers all the way up…

The clouds dispersed, and once more, the full face of the moon cast all her grace and power down upon us, giving everything a weirdly bright and crisp definition that the drugs and the lighting somehow made clearer than broad daylight.

Almost as soon as she came, we began to see fluorescence everywhere around us on the rocks lining the little dirt road. At the time, we were tripping hard, not sure at all what we were witnessing. Turns out Googling it revealed that very slightly fluorescent moss can grow on rocks in this portion of the world, and the moon was acting as the catalyst in the chemical reaction.

At the time, this was fucking magic. Creepy and cool. Something new and unknown, bearing it’s marvellous head in a moment where our vulnerable state of mind made us doubt even such simple natural occurrences.

We summed it up to just a part of this enhanced version of reality we were currently visiting and kept making our ascent.

One member of the group had once expressed that going on a trip with me was like fucking boot camp, and this is probably more true than not. Truth be told, the hike was not that long, but in our tender lifestyles and altered frames of reference, it did seem like quite a ways.

Now, the next part is something simply indescribable, something so profound as to be one of those once in a lifetime moments for me. I will try and be as direct as I can, but it’s gonna be a challenge to even partially express.

I’ve held a ball of energy on acid that someone else saw. I’ve read minds. I’ve seen ball lightning up close. I’ve had a completely involuntary and disturbingly real out of body experience where I met either an old master, or an old version of myself… I’ve seen and felt things that are beyond words to describe… I’ve done Salvia Divininorum for fuck’s sake!

But this was for all its simplicity one of the more profound moments of my existence, a temporary and complete “what the fuck, is this real?” moment.

Out there, in the woods, surrounded by nothing, going up a little dirt road, we turn the bend and come upon what from a distance looks like the very entrance into the pits of Hades. The structure was about a click away, up the hill, seemingly several hundreds of feet high, all black, with nine separate entrances, three wide, three high. Looked like some demonic version of Hollywood squares, but instead of celebrities and shit, you got a giant ugly subterranean creature that comes out to answer the participant’s trivial questions… Who wants to be a participant on Lovecraft Squares? Just don’t ask Cthulhu for anything, cuz he’s a grumpy-assed one…

“Are you guys fucking seeing this?”

“Yeah…” says one

“What the fuck is it?” says another.

“The fucking Dark Tower!” says my brother.

“So I’m not alone here? That is some fucked up shit right there?”

General agreement and discomfort on all their faces.

Without a second thought, feeling oddly energized by the sight, finally somehow in my place, I veered off the road and began making my way directly for this thing. Such a sight I had never before witnessed. Something so utterly out of place, surreal. I was not about to let it disappear before I had a chance to experience it, and loosing it from my field of vision for even a second was out of the question.

I soon became aware of a resistance to my path. Apparently they were not all convinced that the trajectory I had undertaken was the wisest. For one, apparently I had scaled a small cliff without even realizing it was there. With some collaboration, we were all able to get up and continue my chosen path.

As we approached, the size, shape, and colour began to change. Basically, what we were looking at was some old wooden observation tower, three stories high. The weird arches that had made it seem like a train tunnel into the mountain were just the normal arches of the deck’s nine sections. The wood was so old and rickety as to be a weird shade of grey, almost like charcoal. Even up close, it looked black. And it was not going into the mountain, simply very close to it… Since then, I’ve seen it lucid, I’ve seen it fucked up, and I’ve even seen it with the full moon, which is closest I have gotten, but never again was that optical illusion repeated. Some days I wonder if the world had not grown thin there for a moment, if we hadn’t seen into a shadow version of reality, where the tower truly was something darker, deeper, and infinitely more sinister.

We explored this weird construction for a moment, going up the completely fucked up stairs onto floors with big holes where the wood had rotten away. We probably should not have been up there at all. The fact a strong wind had not blown the fucker to the ground was truly surprising. The nine arches probably contributed to the huge amount of sway that the structure could withstand without losing its integrity. Hell, it was barely windy and even now, up on the third floor, we could feel, and see, the constant slow sway back and forth. Being up here on a windy night must feel like challenging death and spitting in it’s cold cruel face.

Our exploration of the environment revealed what we [I] had sought out. Here, then, finally, was the reward for our faith. A truly awe inspiring tunnel into the very abyss of the earth, wide, dark, and just so incredibly inviting to the shaman at heart.

This was the path to the underworld that all seekers hope to one day come upon! Even today, writing this, I can feel the sense of letting go, of following the current, the path of least resistance, right into the mouth in the earth. The allies might have played a role in this at the moment, but that is only the partial truth.

There was a large iron gate blocking the way, but I could have been a great cat burglar, or ninja, and I barely slowed down, forcing the door open as much as it would go, and slipping into a small weakness in their defence up by the top of the door.

I barely fit, so I wasn’t too sure if they could follow. They just stared at me, wondering what the fuck was wrong with me that I would even want to go in there. Apparently, the attraction, the sense of turning the final bend in the road before returning home, was mine alone.

I was in there in a matter of seconds, and turned around to convince them to try and enter and come explore with me. That’s when suddenly a beeping started. Much like the sound you hear in the movies before a bomb goes off.

All three of those bastards turned and began running! I was dead meat. It was obviously too late for me, but they still had a chance!

My brother turned around after just a step or two, his rational mind overcoming the panicked adrenaline fueled reaction. But by the time he was turned around, I was already weaselling my way out and hitting the ground running. A few seconds later, the other two turned around, presumably to help, or watch me go up in a giant explosion or something. By then, my brother and I were already nearly on them.

And that’s when the craziest, loudest motherfucking alarm I ever heard in my life went off right next to us. An old mine air-raid siren, able to fill the surrounding valley with a god forsaken shrieking of a sound, something to raise the dead, or the docile sheep tucked away in their beds at that very moment!

I can’t be sure what was going through the other’s minds, but it seemed to be upon comparison similar to my own. We were envisioning some kind of commandos, guards of some secret military installation or some shit, coming out at us from the woods. Rationally, looking back, I am not sure what we thought. Only that the reaction was very drastic, very loud, and for some reason, seemed to imply to my mind that there were people up there, something going on I didn’t know about, and that these people were right now racing down the hill after us to catch us, and do who knows what to keep us quiet…

As we ran down the hill at full speed, and reasoning returned, we realized we were not being chased. We grabbed the bikes, and barrelled the rest of the way down. Once on the bike path, back in obscurity, away from the roads and potential cops, we all calmed down. The siren died away.

We peddled back to town in near silence. All of us shocked by what had just occurred. I am not certain of the fact, but I think we all enjoyed the experience, in our own way. Not saying anyone but me would do it all over again (I tried twice more to get past the motion sensor up there on later dates without success), but it was one of those moments of being in a group, a part of something. It may have been good, maybe bad, but something real! I am certain of one thing, though. If only for a few moments there, that evening, we all felt true tension.

As is often the case, I ended the trip with a large breakfast in a local dinner, wide eyed, feeling more lucid than lucid, watching the regular world begin it’s daily drudge. A part of me always feels sorry for these poor rats, trapped in their little cages, working the maze to get their little daily piece of cheese, but even then, I realize that except for a few moments each year, I am one of them!

In these border regions, when the nighthawk meets the morning tweedlers, I am always reminded of the duality between the Apollo and the Dionysian cult, of the large percentage of the population that lives a normal life by day, and seeks abandon of the senses when the sun is down and their shameful ways can be hidden behind masks. I think of the drunks and druggies, the college students, the teenagers addicted to all kinds of chemicals combined with the truly savage scene of raves and after parties. Loud music, bad lighting, flesh bumping and grinding on flesh, an abandon and an acceptance that everyone here is as dirty and shameless as everyone else…

I ponder the need to release the tension of behaving in a socially acceptable manner, of the sense of connection we get with the people in those moments of mutual destruction. The camaraderie of the doomed goes beyond anything experienced in the day. The sense of doing something wrong makes the need for reassurance and support from others making the same mistakes crucial to justify continuing the behaviour.

“I don’t have a problem,” said one coke addict, with a rolled up bill in his hand, “just a solution!”

While I abhor his choice in drugs, I understand where he is coming from. Moments like I experienced that night cannot be explained on paper (or on a screen), but there is something real, something immediate and somehow meaningful about it that an outsider will never grasp. Altered states of mind. Temporary purpose. Belonging. Feeling truly ALIVE!