We decided to take two hits of the acid apiece. With a "Here goes nothing" Sarah and I popped the mints in simultaneously. The bitter taste of the acid was tamed by the Altoid mints it had soaked into.

"Point of no return," I remarked. The usual pre-trip anxiety began to kick in, but was eased by my anticipation of its arrival. Sarah pulled out one of her juice bottles and sipped at it as she popped in the movie she had insisted on us renting for tonight. The title had already escaped me.

The first waves of the acid were creeping up my skin as Sarah and I sat watching the film-which amounted to visual poetry. Images of life, death, youth, age, grace, malice, glee, grief, and shame. There was an uncomfortable anxiety which seemed to originate in my chest, most specifically my heart. I felt my heart and questioned suddenly if it was beating. Yes, yes, it's beating.

We sat in a peculiar kind of silence while watching the film. I was thankful for it, because it gave me the ability to keep my anxiety at bay. No speaking. No communication.

I did not know how long this went on. The movie had become unintelligible to me. None of the images made any sense, and when there was dialogue, it was either total gibberish or a barely audible whisper. It began to make me feel uncomfortable. I suddenly needed to escape it.

"Sarah?"

"Yes?"

I just smiled in response, though she was not looking at me. The room was dark. It seemed so dark. So much light coming from the television. Why were we doing this to ourselves?

I giggled to deny the tugging of the anxiety. Visualizing it as a worried underling, tugging at my robe with a look of fear, pointing in the direction my back was defiantly facing with horror infesting its being. I had to deny it. The power was only theirs if I delivered it.

"Darren?"

I giggled. "Yes?"

"Don't be such an amateur." She looked towards the kitchen behind me with an undeniable anticipatory smile of utter glee. Her eyes were a fireball of excitement, the pupils cartoonishly ballooned beyond all reasonable proportion. I had to look away. Then she laughed. She guffawed. She laughed. The sound folded in on itself and reverberated within its own walls, echoing for an eternity within itself. My robes were being tugged. I wanted to break forth in gales of laughter. If only it weren't for that goddamn tugging. I giggled weakly. Shamed by the falsehood of my expression, I looked to Sarah for consolation and forgiveness.

But instead she was laughing still.

So I heard it some more.

And I began to realize this would be one of the heavier trips I'd ever had. This intensified the tugging and my heart was beating, the anxiety bleeding out through my veins and skin. There was this sickness

This sickness in my stomach

Something.

Spinning, my head. Was spinning.

Then there was vomit on my foot and on the bathroom floor near the toilet. There was also vomit in the toilet.

The tugging stopped. I heard a light buzzing with an echo of my own retching as I relived the memory of throwing up, which I seemed to have all but skipped the first time around.

"Are you okay? Darren?"

I didn't answer at first. I flushed the toilet. Sarah called again, louder. She was coming. Thank God. She came to the door way and immediately walked away. I was puzzled at first by her departure. Then I was suddenly sharing with her the sensation of my vomit's horrible stench. And it was on my feet. On my feet.

"Oh no..." I muttered.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Don't have a bad trip, buddy."

I chuckled lightly. "I'm fine, babe."

"Promise?"

"Yes."

"Okay." Silence. I could imagine her standing there, stuck for a moment without knowing what to do next, before suddenly she was walking away and returning to the television. I was mad at myself for the anxiety I had passed on.

I flushed the toilet again and then slid open the shower door, amazed at the smooth glide it displayed across my vision. I stood there for a moment and then began to undress. I appeared to be twice my normal height, and it was such a long way for me to bend down to take my socks off. I felt as though I was abandoning Sarah, but I needed the warm water splashing against my skin. Warm water running down my skin. Vapor. It always helped. It would help again. Though the tugging had stopped, I still felt the anxiety's presence. It was melting out of my skin and infecting my environment. My spine was feeling stiff as I turned the showerhead on. Three-quarters hot, one-quarter cold.

The initial cold blast hit me, and that shock went through me to my organs, my muscles, my bones. Even when the water became very warm, I was shivering. Slowly my insides warmed up. My muscles relaxed. I slid down to the bottom of the shower and sat with my back to the glass.

I looked upwards at the ceiling and was amused by how tall the shower was. The pouring water appeared to be coming from a great distance above me. The force of the water as it hit me became a thundering beat. In my head I clearly saw elephants and tanks and trucks and herds of antelope in a singular stampede across a very large plain. The beat became all-consuming. It was not pleasant, but it was not unpleasant, either. It was beautifully neutral. The suffering had become nothing. It was okay that I suffered. It made no difference whether I was happy or sad.

Both smiles and frowns were disgusting to me in that moment. The thought of both. They were ignorant expressions in that both of them neglected one half of the spectacle of life.

The smile inflicted the pain of others while the frown heralded the fortunes of those gifted.

The bathroom disappeared behind the fog on the glass sides of the shower. Textures and colors began to move beyond it. The neutrality of my trip was annoying me.

Forget it, I thought. If my happiness must be stolen from another, then so be it. I will enjoy this. I will enjoy my life. It's insane not to.

"Sarah!" I called. I listened for her response, but got none. Colors moved on the other side of the glass. She had come in to see what was wrong. I clearly saw her shape through the fog. Excitement tore through me to look upon her face at this exact moment. She was beautiful. I wanted to look upon her.

I slid the door open and looked out upon a vast and empty room. The spraying of the shower echoed endlessly within the confines of what was suddenly a very small room. The hall outside seemed to darken and that dark voice whispered inside of me.

dead

"Sarah!" I yelled in restrained panic. The world beyond the bathroom suddenly seemed very sinister. Could I trust that what I was about to walk into was the same world I had left?

no

dead

I began to walk towards the door when I began to come to myself a little. I stopped and turned the shower off, thinking maybe that was why I could not hear Sarah. She was out there. She was perfectly fine still watching her movie sipping her juice breathing the air her legscurledupunderneathher.

I shook my head lightly and found that it made me dizzy to do so. Walking out of the bathroom dripping wet and naked like a crazy person what are you doing?

I grabbed a towel and deliberately dried myself. I slowed down and made certain I did it perfectly fine. Perfectly normal. Be normal.

"Buddy?" I heard her call as I began to pull my pants on.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm coming out. I'm okay."

"Okay. This movie makes no sense! I can't figure it out! It's crazy!"

I laughed. Heartily this time. I was now feeling my anxiety and fear and depression sliding by on a different level of my psyche. It was there, but it was not interfering with the pleasance spread out before me. I smelled my vomit still on the floor and ignored it. It wouldn't bother me. I'd clean it later. It'd be okay.

The clothes went on carefully, and I felt the cloth of my shirt slide down and around my body. I popped my head out and then slowly-with very deliberate steps-walked across the apartment to join Sarah once again.

I turned on the kitchen overhead because the darkness was too much for me. Sarah exclaimed protest, but I barely noticed and did not respond. I thought about sitting down next to her on the couch, but decided it would be too uncomfortable for me to contort my body in such a way. I laid down on the floor instead.

"You never dry yourself off." Sarah laughed at me. I couldn't figure out what she meant. Was I still wet or was she pointing out that I was dry? I couldn't figure it out. It didn't make any sense. I reached up and pulled the afghan off of the recliner. I put it over top of me for warmth. I needed the comfort of it against my skin. "Buddy..."

"Yeah?"

"You're worrying me."

I didn't answer her for a few moments, not realizing how much time was passing. I was simply enjoying the blanket around me. Feeling its cloth. The warmth. The comfort. The tightness. I began to think of the womb.

"Darren?"

The thought of the womb became too real. I felt wet and strange. I spasmed my way out of the blanket.

"Okay, Darren, we're going for a walk."

"A walk?" I pretended that I was not on the verge of freaking out.

"Yes, a walk." Spring was here. Temperatures were rising. That coldness in my bones had dissipated, and I felt the sun's caress on my skin as I sat in the glow of the television. Though it was past sunset, to me it suddenly seemed as though I would be walking right out to a beautiful, sunny day with a clear sky. What I walked out into was a damp world. A novel I had read once a long time ago described it as the world's sweat. I had seen the rain earlier today, though that memory seemed distant and uncertain. Now that rain did not exist in my mind. It seemed as though the dampness truly had sprung up from the world as a sweat. Though the air had a cool touch, I imagined the heat within the world. The power contained within. I felt as though I were an avatar of the earth itself. The glistening of the earth's sweat warped and glittered throughout the grass.

I barely noticed we had walked two blocks down the hill. The trees were swaying, and the leaves warped and melted together in strange patterns. Sarah and I were silent apart from the giggles. There were a few other night walkers out and about. Their presence filled us with a mutual embarrassment.

"What are we doing out here, Darren?" Sarah asked me with a huge smile. "What are we doing? I don't feel like we should be here. I'm not sure what we're doing. I don't want to go home. I don't like other people. I want to go hide. We should go to the cemetery. No! Not the cemetery. The woods. I like the woods. The trees! The grass! It's wet. No, it's very, very wet. Darren, it's so wet out here!"

I couldn't respond. I just listened as this continued for quite some time. I was laughing and giggling mildly. There was a small gathering on a porch across the street. I found myself helpless to stare at them as we walked. Sarah continued to speak in some distant plane to my right. I thought I shouldn't be looking at them, but I had to because I couldn't figure out what they were doing or why they were all standing there. Drinking? Smoking? Both. Then I thought that maybe they were looking at me, and someone burst through the screen door of the house and it looked as though she were staring directly at me, as well. I finally looked away. Smiling. Giggling. It was very quiet, and I could hear their words as they spoke and laughed amongst themselves. They could hear me. They could hear Sarah. They knew we did something. They knew something was not right. And so did we.

"I think we need to go somewhere without people," I said, attempting not to ramble. "Let's go to the park."

"The park sounds good."

We immediately bee-lined for the Johanneson Memorial Park. There was an old cement path between two houses that led up to a parallel street higher up the hill. There was no other connecting route past that. One street went up along the side of the hill while the other went down. From above they might have looked like wavespray upon the Earth in the way that the lines of street lights painted two yellowish-orange lines of matching curves to splash violenty in contrast with the darkness.

The world was breathing around us. We were approaching the peak of our trip. The time which had elapsed between us taking the drops and now seemed a dream. In fact, the entire day preceding seemed to be a dream. It felt like we had finally crossed the veil into reality. The trees were all swaying, as were the millions of blades of grass. The orange light painted the street in the most peculiar of hues. The most beautiful of coloration. As we closed the distance to the park we saw a multitude of humans. Some through windows-I avoided looking because it always seemed that they were doing horrible or sexual things inside-some driving by in cars-I avoided looking because it always seemed that they would slow as they passed us by and the expressions on their faces would be difficult to understand-some walking by on the sidewalks-I avoided looking because it always seemed that they knew something was wrong with us... Something undefinable... Ineffable... But horrible... Horribly, horribly wrong. I wanted to scream at them if I looked at them. I kept smiling and watching the plants, the trees, the structures of the houses with darkened windows. It all had meaning. Pattern. Repetition...

I'd seen it all before. We'd seen it all a thousand times. I couldn't understand why I never saw it as we did at that moment. That moment which was an infinite walk. I wanted to lay down in the grass in someone's lawn. Sarah spoke a few times, but all I made out was gibberish. Was she even speaking English? Could I understand the spoken word anymore? I had to stop myself from lying down. I wanted to feel the grass on my skin. The moisture. I wanted to lick the moisture. I wanted to feel the coolness on my tongue and down my throat. It was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Tantaliiizzzing.

I stopped walking. Something had happened in my brain. It felt like bubbles moving in my head. That my brain physically warped through these bubbles as light would. Sarah kept walking, her arms outstretched. She was looking at the skyyyyyyyyy

I moved forward very quickly. My upper body felt stationary as mild vibrations from my steps carried upwards. I was now detached. I needed to get to the park before I lost control. Lost control lost lost it lost it lost controllllll

I was running.

But we were already there. The trees looming on the horizon, their shapes pitch dark against the backdrop of a sky hued orange by the city's illumination. This isn't real. They beckoned me closer. Where is Sarah? This isn't real. The grass waved towards my feet. Where is Sarah? This isn't real. I need to lay down. Where is Sarah? This isn't real.

I was lying down, but I had no idea how long I'd been there. I felt water all down my back and legs. I stared at the sky and saw stars twinkling shooting stars red and green and orange and yellow and that might be a U.F.O. but I could not be sure I'd never be sure of anything again. Where is Sarah?

Where is Sarah?

"Sarah?" Did I say that?

Where is Sarah?

"Sarah?" "Sarah?" "Are you there?" No, I wasn't speaking. I couldn't be. My mouth wasn't moving.

Where is Sarah?

It's okay.

Sarah's nowhere. I am nowhere. Things are crawling on my face. Bugs. Insects. Miniature lives. I am those lives. I am the grass. The water. I am not human. Humans do not exist. I am the trees. I am the sky and the earth and the moon and the sun and the universe all condensed into one singular mass that doesn't even have any physical properties.

I am nothing. I am nowhere because nothing exists to be there. I am not warm. I am not cold. I am not light. I am not dark. It doesn't exist. I don't exist. Sarah doesn't exist. Nothing exists.

Where is Sarah?

Sarah is not real. Sarah is nowhere. It is okay. Don't worry about Sarah.

Where is Sarah?

It's okay.

She's in danger.

She's nowhere.

She's dead.

She's nowhere.

Relax...

Relax...

Fade...faaaaaaaaade...

Nothing existed for a time apart from distant, blurry shapes dancing rhythmically; red and vaguely menacing. Then more did exist. I felt my center of gravity shifting-or, rather, my presentation to myself of my center of gravity. It was warping and bending around itself. It was dizzying as it spun, and as it spun I felt the expansion of my reality outwards. Nauseau and sickness. I felt my skeleton and my muscles and my veins and then my eyes with a sickening realization that it still indeed existed.

My eyes popped open as beyond that sickening realization came the more sentinel concerns of where Sarah was now that my illusion of nonexistence had gone. I got up to my knees and surveyed my surroundings. Everything seemed so crisply detailed and defined in its dimensions for just a moment before it all resumed its warping and twisting. I saw Sarah nowhere. I had been lying down a few yards from the street. The pavilion and playground were almost undistinguishable shades against the pitch dark background of trees, but a couple reflections from the streetlights spoiled the stealth. As I watched the reflections, they seemed to dissipate; almost threatening to disappear and take the park with them. I blinked it away, grateful that I was able to do so successfully. The wave of sensibility had crashed and was now being pulled back out for the next wave to hit this shore. I needed to find Sarah before it hit.

"Sarah!" I called out almost in a panic. I listened. There was no answer. I looked around the two streets running perpendicular to each other, hoping to maybe see her staring at one of the streetlights like she'd done before. There was nothing. The streets waved and curved while the houses thickened and thinned. Everything was bouncy all around me, but I had to find Sarah. I had to find Sarah.

Where is Sarah? Where is Sarah? Where is Sarah?

I began to walk somewhere. My feet were carrying me towards the spots of light in the darkness.

"Sarah!" I called again, thinking I had not called for her yet.

"Sarah!" I called again, or I echoed. I perhaps echoed "Sarah!" as my feet carried me I was trying not to panic she was out there in the woods tripping and I had lost her she wasn't where I could find her she was going to be lost for her entire trip we were going to be lost for our entire trip.

"Darren!" I heard my name and looked around. I couldn't tell if I had truly heard it. The sound echoed in my brain. I mistook the distant orange glow against the sky from the surrounding city's lights as the rise of the sun. What time was it? "Darren! You can't see me! You can't see me!" Sarah's laughter exploded and then traveled to me out of the darkness before a shadow materialized from the black and swung its arms around me and I was overcome with Sarah's smell. I breathed in deep and embraced her tightly.