It’s back. That familiar sensation deep in my stomach. Twisted in knots it is; like large, thick anacondas swollen with rotten meat twirling and sliming all over each other in a sickening pit of death and decay.
The pure life force that usually drives and maintains order and harmony in the world has been sucked dry and repurposed as a malevolent oppression. I cannot see; a drifting grey fog blankets everything. I cannot breathe. There is no air, only a foul-tasting smoke which drives itself relentlessly into my cells and rots them from the inside out, turning them into putrid soup. I try to scream, but the sound is enveloped as soon as it leaves my mouth, leaving only a bleak, muffled squeak. I feel utterly powerless. As meek as a rat in a volcano. The feeling in my stomach has me heaving, my body desperate to outcast the rancid black acid from my stomach, burning through me, decomposing everything in its path. I’m terrified and I cannot escape. I am being devoured from the inside out. I reach out blindly into the fog. I’ve never felt so alone, so frightened. I touch something but it turns to ash in my hands. I inhale the slag as it cascades through my fingers.
I turn to my pipe and suck down hard on embers as a lighter booms into life and enlightens the dark; the repulsive and disturbed shadows of my reflection are imprinted on the wall momentarily before dissolving back into the fog. The tension eases for a moment. Gravity lightens its heavy-handed grip.
The black dog sleeps peacefully at the foot of my bed. He is as large as a small elephant, and he follows me wherever I go.
Like a lost and lonely traveller I map the journey ahead with a sense of trepidation and caution. There is a foreboding feeling as I begin to internally navigate the layout of my current surroundings: A dense jungle, humid and imposing. Vines like snakes curled around the roots of ancient trees, pilfering the energy of their hosts and drinking the delectable sap emitting from fractures and chasms. Untarnished weeds given the liberty to flourish, coughing anaphylactic spores into the dark grey fog. They are as tall as the trees, but riddled with razor-sharp teeth which tear human flesh. Poisonous mushrooms spawn implacably across the forest detritus. Slime mold eats them for sustenance. Thankfully, I have yet to see or feel any other cognisant life forms in this decomposing landscape.
I take a step into the thicket of jungle. The aroma of putrid defecation oozes from the mushrooms.
I take another step.
I feel my skin being gashed and torn by razor-sharp teeth, protruding from the heads of their insidious hosts.
I take another step.
Breathe deeply. Airborne bacterium expelled from towering weeds latch onto oxygen molecules and are inhaled down into my lungs, suffocating warriors of the internal immune defense system. They replicate like carcinogenic cells.
One more step.
My ankles are ensnared by thick, lifeless serpents. Their sheer strength is immense and threatens to crush my bones into rock salt.
3 AM. My perception is twisted, distorted. Wobbly.
I cannot see more than three feet in front of me without confusion slapping me into submission, driving my body into the floor with tremendous power. I’m dazed and barely conscious, running on instinct and outdated survival mechanisms. I am in pain, and I am oppressed, but I am still breathing.
I look at the black dog sleeping peacefully at the end of my bed. He is the size of a wild brumby.
I cannot sleep. My thoughts are loud in the dark. Like a satiated restaurant patron, I reflect on my choice of delicacies and how they have made me feel.
I began my meal with a charcuterie board. I ate hard and gritty olives, which dissolved in my mouth like a baking soda based bath bomb made from compounded viscous chemicals. I swallowed seasonal walnuts whole, shell and all. I scoffed cheeses made from rancid milk and all the while I inhaled concentrated doses of oxygenized air to cut through the grey fog like a lighthouse beaming down on the bay.
I chose to suck and swallow pallid oysters with a cremated ash vinaigrette. The toxins made me feel like I had received a gentle, warm and comforting hug from my dear mother. However, I am unsure of how well they are sitting my stomach.
I chose to satisfy my thirst with a smoky brown petroleum fuel. This warmed my internal organs from the inside, discarding of the stalactite icicles that had formed there. This strange substance made me feel invincible even as I witnessed my body crumble and decay in front of my eyes.
I chose to huff an experimental dessert; a toxic chemical sherbet designed to be experienced through the nose and throat. It stung but pleased the senses, making me feel invigorated and intense and talkative and momentarily gregarious. However I fear the invigoration is only temporary.
I’m tired now. My body can no longer withstand and it liquefies into the sheets. My internal factory closes for the night, the last sounds of clanging and shouting fizzling away.
All the while my black dog sleeps peacefully at the end of my bed, the size of a mule.