Monday, July 17, 2017

The Nonplussed - an excerpt



Dreyfuss struggled to stay upright despite the agonizing withdrawals wracking his body. It had been ten days since his last shot of the demon's special brand of heroin, and the withdrawals weren't letting up... if anything they were getting worse. He hadn't believed it when Ignatius told him that withdrawals from demon dust were permanent and only got worse until you died from the pain, but now he was beginning to wonder.

Pain had long since become the status quo, and it was a simple thing for Dreyfuss to imagine the restructuring of his own perceptions of joy and misery by simply bumping his current level of misery up to baseline. Not great, not bad... just ok. He would be ok if he just believed hard enough that he was. He chanted it like a prayer as he walked... I'm ok (step), I'm ok (step), I'm ok (step)... over and over, until the hours and the miles and the steps all blurred together into a long, gray smear.

It was inside that interminable gray mantra that Dreyfuss became aware of a kind of slowing down of his misery. It wasn't decreasing; it was just slowing down, way down, like it was winding down until it finally just stopped. It hadn't disappeared; it was still there, but it wasn't coursing through him anymore. It had become a thing of apathy as well as misery, and Dreyfuss was able to be still inside of it and almost... comfortable.

Dreyfuss experienced a dim kind of surprise to understand that he really had redefined the status quo, as pain had apparently been promoted from a hated enemy to a merely unpleasant roommate. He stumbled mentally at the sudden realization and then fell across a brand new epiphany... everything grew out of the good. The good was the foundation which supported the universe, and nothing could survive without the good, and nothing could exist without the good. Everything relied upon the good - even the bad. No matter how hidden or obscured or seemingly nonexistent, the good was still there. The simple fact of even a miniscule presence of the good, if looked at and concentrated on hard enough, made for such a laughingly, obviously unfair game for the bad, that Dreyfuss almost felt sorry for Ignatius.

The sudden realization of such a simple truth was so funny that Dreyfuss laughed out loud... and then immediately dropped to his knees, felled by the worst pain of his life, right at the bottom of his guts. It was far worse than a mortal agony - it was an immortal agony, a never ending agony meant to inspire infinite despair, but he couldn't stop laughing,.. and with each involuntary guffaw the incredible, indescribably mind blowing torment increased by an order of magnitude, over and over... and over, again. And again. And again...

In the throes of such torment, everything outside of it had become meaningless. There was no awareness, not of himself or of the passage of time. The all encompassing agony had reduced him to something less than human; less even than an animal. A totality of pain had thoroughly sequestered his awareness and cast him, trussed and tied with heavy, white hot iron chains, into an ocean of suffering. Dreyfuss had one last cogent thought, followed by a swell of empathy, before the ocean swallowed him... Ignatius. Why does it always piss him off when I can't stop laughing at something? Poor Ignatius, poor Ignatius, poor Ignatius...

The ocean vomited him back up like a bad oyster. For an instant, Dreyfuss could feel it with all of his senses, the jerking away of it from him in all directions leaving a smoking, carbonized Dreyfuss-shaped husk that shattered into dust and then blew away. For an instant he was pain free, long enough to feel a brief moment of simple joy, before the pain came rushing back in to fill the vacuum. The return of pain was nothing compared to that brief joyful feeling, and with it came another epiphany. Dreyfuss suddenly understood that the purpose of his existence was to witness the universe, and the the universe existed to be witnessed. Nothing more. His suffering was a part of that circle of acknowledgement, merely necessary as a thing to be witnessed. It was his part. It was that simple. He thought:

'I'm just a sensory apparatus, evolved inside of a universe that wanted to get a look at itself... and in my case, a feel for itself. My opposite is out there somewhere too, my other experience... my joy is out there.'

With a new understanding came a brief lucidity, and Dreyfuss was able to isolate a small portion of his limited awareness and separate it from the agony, which had returned with a vengeance. With a tremendous effort, Dreyfuss PULLED his attention away from the pain, and toward the source of it... and what he discovered was such a shocking surprise that he almost lost the tenuous grip he'd gotten on himself, which very nearly sent him spinning back into the totality.

The shock was... the endless agony he was experiencing... it wasn't in his gut at all. It was in his balls! And it didn't even belong to him, it wasn't his pain, it belonged to that... demonic drug dealer, that... that motherfucker! Ignatius!

Suddenly Dreyfuss felt no more pain. Only pure relief. On his knees, he wept tears of joy and understood, with a clarity of understanding that only comes from viewing the structure of the universe through the eyes of the universe, that even if that little shit Cannibalus the Starvling pulled off his magick trick and crammed the Earth into a gaping, transdimensional maw of ever unsatisfied hunger, that it wouldn't matter because the opposite of an eternal starvation had been and always would be an eternal contentment! Dreyfuss knew that to be a truth, more than he'd ever known anything, ever. He knew it... he knew it!

Then Dreyfuss felt the pathetic remains of his physical withdrawals begin to finally break apart, like a thin coating of congealed bacon grease after a couple of seconds in the microwave. Underneath it he could see in his minds eye a vast ocean of clear, transparent water... clear, but somehow still a vibrant blue, and a glimpse of the eternity underneath. He was confused for a bare naked second until he realized that he wasn't looking down into the water. He was looking up through it, and into a pristine blue sky.

Beautiful.

Joy suffused his being, and Dreyfuss felt the essence of his self rising like an express elevator, up and up and up, impossibly fast... and on the way up, he caught a glimpse of Ignatius, as quick as a still-frame but as clear as a photograph. Ignatius was clutching his crotch, his face contorted in agony. Dreyfuss could even hear a faint, diminutive scream that dopplered away into quick oblivion as the demon fell, way way down and into hell, which sounded exactly like...

"OW, MY BAAAAAAALLS....... . .  .   .     ."

As he rose, faster and faster, Dreyfuss felt his awareness begin to shatter quietly as it fell upward and into a vast, gray bliss. He was surprised to experience no fear at all, only peace... and as he was finally near the end of his coming apart, the last thing Dreyfuss perceived was the voice of Purl Ashblaque, the gun-slinging grunge wizard, whispering an old Pearl Jam tune that used to be, way back when from before, and maybe after, too...

"I... Ooooh, I'm still ALIVE."

Then Dreyfuss felt the soft volumes of infinity enclose him, and a final memory of the pain that killed his body was what finally returned him to his his spirit, like an old friend coming home from the war.

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