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Xerophium

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Man truly does not understand his place in the universe. It is understandable that, as a result of our natural-born desire that everything turn out in our own personal favour, we believe that everything in this existence does exist so for us and us alone. However, and this is a popular but not popular enough opinion, we must understand that Earth was not the only cosmic mass capable of assembling the required ingredients needed to spawn consciousness. Indeed, there is a far greater mass that surrounds the universe as we now know and do not know it. And that mass, too, had a similar ability to gather consciousness from the abyss surrounding. However, what separates this from Earth and its several fellow life-giving masses is that the outer expansion surrounding the universe ceased to maintain the ability to gather life shortly after its first successful attempt. Reasoning for this, as well as all previous statements thus far, came to me shortly following the distribution of that almighty damned Xerophium.

As far back as eight months ago, the local town I frequented, a walking distance from my own property north of the town’s outskirts, was introduced to Xerophium. Oh, the council was reliable to claim ignorance and deny any and all associations with the importing and distribution of the forbidden mineral, but the townsfolk and myself refrained from even bothering to lend an ear or eye at this stage. A council as corrupt as Lucifer himself never existed closer to the very fascists running our meek, unsuspecting yet predictable little community. The Xerophium ran through the town quicker than the water in its very pipes, as did every other fad-driven filth before it.

Now, one would think that after as many hospitalizations and casualties inflicted upon our community at the decrepit hands of the demon known as addiction, that the civilians might possibly learn to avoid such introduced substances, even go as far as to discourage the potential dabblers from even considering the option. But in a town that, up until then, had suffered through exactly four different plagues of different forbidden substances, losing and nearly losing significant amounts of lives in the process, this was merely going to be another stage in the developmental process commonly known as learning.

Suffice yet regrettable to say, I had been a part of that numbingly curious crowd of ever-cheap thrill seekers, fretting not over potential/guaranteed health problems with which these fads were accompanied. There were several suppliers around the town to choose from, but I stuck with my least reprehensible source, the owner of the liquor store. All of his secret stock was stored inbetween floorboards around the interior, wedged just out of sight from both above and below. He made these particular customers wait outside while he would retrieve the bag of the desired product. Storage locations were changed daily so as to avoid quick and sticky fingers. I had left the money on the counter before exiting the building; the cashier dropped the bag through the mail deposit in the door without a word. The standard transaction process. The bag, hardly bigger than the palm of my own hand, was clear plastic, filled with a crystalline grain of a sickeningly sour green. A hideous aroma of some then unidentifiable sulphate seeped its way through the seam atop the bag. Amongst the crystals was a small piece of paper, which at that point may or may not have been embellished with text. I took only seconds to register this, as I hastily concealed the item amongst my person and made my way home.

The ingestion method of this phenomenon was an injustice to the term “conventional”. The paper within the bag was in fact transcribed with instructions as to how to consume the drug whilst gaining maximum effect. It was to be ingested through the eyes. Rather, the space inbetween the muscular flesh that contains the eyeballs and the eyeballs themselves. This was all the information provided. Consequently I initiated the ingestion process. Clearing space in my primary recreation room, I lay on my back to face the ceiling with a spoonful of the Xerophium in hand. Raising my hand above my eye-level, I hesitated. The process was sure to be one of excruciating pain and discomfort, and yet by this point I had become far too engrossed in the possible cosmic revelations this drug could induce to consider any potential fallout. So I sprinkled the ever-fine crystals over my waking eyes.

I believe that there are two stages to the concept of regret: the short term and the long term. When one commits an act which they should not have, knowing full well that they should not have, the initial physical feelings including nausea and shock/disbelief are what I refer to as short term; the immediate physical ramifications. If you were to say something personal to someone you love, do you not feel as if you cannot even believe you would ever say such a thing to them, possibly even accompanied by a sickness in the stomach? Granted the shock and disbelief were certainly there once the crystals landed upon my eyes, but rather than a nauseating feeling in the stomach, it seemed like more of a lacerating, searing sensation.

In both a literal and figurative blind panic, I attempted to caress my eyes with the back of my forearm, wailing in agony and cursing myself for being so desperate and moronic. I would have sooner poured salt onto my eyes; I could feel every single individual grain of the acidic monstrosity searing and burrowing its way into the flesh of my eyes. Stumbling, I managed to upright myself against a wayward table. After a good while of getting my eyesight back in order, I attempted to get a good view of my surroundings. From what I could tell I had not left my house, although the colours that linger after having applied constant pressure to one’s eyes lingered for some time. In fact, the colours did not only linger, but began flexing and rearranging themselves before my eyes in much greater complexity that usual. I assumed that this was the first stage of the Xerophium. The masses of inconceivable colours writhed and intertwined with one another playfully, in an almost teasing manner. All colours on the known spectrum of light were present, plus many more colours that I could not describe by mouth or hand. Beneath the hand I was using to support myself during the hallucinatory anarchy I felt the tabletop begin to quiver. Glancing down I noticed the table itself had begun joining in the frantic performances being put on by the masses of colour before me. Before I could react the table slid out from under me, leaving me victim to gravity with a thud to go and frolic with the colours. I sat myself up and concentrated on enjoying the harmless mayhem. For a solid moment the constantly morphing shapes, colours and household items continued their performance, playful and teasing.

They then all ceased their individual dancing. All the shapes and colours joined and began swirling anti-clockwise in formation, rapidly gaining on one another until it formed a large ring in the centre of the room. However, the ring breached standard perspectives, maintaining form even beyond the floor and ceiling. And from the ring spewed a vortex of shadows, dark masses whirling around and past one another in perfect formation. Then the ring expanded. It expanded with such grace and swiftness not of this world. And as it swallowed the room, and indeed all space and time that fell in its path. The vortex continued in its path, until I was surrounded and all remnants of my world were gone. The floor was one of the first things to go so I had begun drowning in the void created by the vortex. Towards the centre of the void I was cruising, the actual end of the path out of sight. It was not until I felt an unusual pain throughout my body – one of emptiness and hollow – that I realized I was not necessarily moving: I was being stretched. I craned my eyes downwards so as to have a proper glance of my body. The particles that composed my physical form were scattering. It were as if the gentlest of winds were eroding away a highly detailed sculpture of the sands of a desert. The further away from one another the particles of my body were being dragged, the less feeling I had in that part of my body. This is what was causing the feeling of emptiness. Only in retrospect can I assume that the lack of panic at this point in time was an effect of the Xerophium, having surely made its way well through my body and mind alike by this stage. Or perhaps it was the knowledge that it was all just some hallucination brought on by some powerful, odorous green powder. Very soon my entire body had been dispersed amongst the void, leaving I only assume to be my eyes intact as I could still see clearly.

The vortex had slowed down now and was carefully realigning itself to form the endpoint of the journey. I was now in some sort of enclosed room. The walls and ceiling, however, were not square, circle or like any other shape I had ever seen before. They were a shape that, although giving the appearance of constantly changing shape and size, were as structurally solid as any architectural feat in our world. The colour of the structure was similar to opaque glass, reflective yet also allowing some vision outside, which was black. In the centre of the structure, not far from where I was, or rather, my consciousness, was another shapeless black mass, no larger than a sporting ball, hovering yet still as a statue. In the centre of this mass was what looked like a round pile of spilled salt or sugar; a thick sprinkling of the tiniest white particles in a vague circular motion. Within this space the mass and I were existing in not a single sound could be heard, more silent that death itself. Then, just as the slow-shifting prism I was in began to speed up its constant metamorphosis, a voice rang out. A voice that was neither male nor female, neither young nor old, neither enraged nor benevolent nor amused began to make itself known from all sides. It did not speak, per se, but rather let out an extended sigh of relief, or perhaps vexation, as though released form the most oppressive, most restrictive of reluctant slumber.

God?

No.

Perhaps.

What is this?

This is existence.

The dark mass you see before you is everything.

The space you see surrounding it is nothing.

Everything that ever has, does and will exist resides within this dark mass. Everything that has not, does not and never will exist resides in the blank space surrounding the dark mass.

So this black thing in front of me is the universe?

Yes.

Everything I have ever known is in there?

And so much more.

But I am outside of this thing. Does that mean that right now I do not exist?

Your physical form does not, but consciousness is one of the very few things that has never existed in physical form.

Interesting.

Indeed.

The Xerophium induces voices as well as visual hallucinations, now does it?

Possibly.

What does that mean?

From your perspective it would surely seem that what you see now is a drug-induced hallucination.

But circumstances suggest otherwise.

Meaning…?

You are here by chance.

Before the creation of existence, the small blackness before you, there existed this structure.

At some random point, existence began, manifesting in the form of the blackness.

One in every nineteen dystorii within this existence was, by chance, enabled the ability to create consciousness.

Life.

Dystorii?

One dystorii is equivalent to nineteen thousand universes.

Oh. So how many dystorii are in that little black thing?

An amount unpronounceable in the human tongue.

Hm.

And so life began.

So, hang on, the whole universe I come from has the ability to create life? So how come Earth has never seen any life form any other planet?

The human race has deemed one universe to be endless, correct?

Yes…

The dystorii that Earth resides in is composed of nineteen thousand universes.

It will likely be a long time before any two universally distant species’ make contact.

Okay then.

And so existence was born. And along with existence, so too was I.

And what are you, exactly?

That is one of the three answers I do not know.

Oh.

The Xerophium substance is what you believe brought you here, correct?

Correct…

Do you know where the Xerophium came from?

No.

Xerophium was discovered by a man on Earth by the name of Lucio San D’Aquino. It was discovered when he found a small mound of glowing, burning crystalline powder in his storage shed that was rapidly growing. He then found that this compound was being secreted from a fissure in the middle of space just above the ground in his shed. Upon exiting the crack in space the powder would burn, but then quickly settle into a green hue. Lucio San D’Aquino began distributing the powder as an illegal substance upon discovering its hallucinogenic properties, spreading like a plague across the planet.

So, what, does that mean there are others who have come here before me?

Very few have passed the first stage of hallucinations.

So what makes me so special?

Nothing. As I said, you are here simply by chance. You have the anatomical capacity to withstand the Xerophium to make it this far.

Great. So I am not special.

No. But what you, Lucio San D’Aquino and the rest of the human race does not know is where exactly the Xerophium comes from, what is on the other side of that crack in Lucio San D’Aquino’s shed.

So enlighten me.

The crack in the shed that secretes the mineral called Xerophium leads to the realm outside of this polygonal prism that you, I and existence currently reside in. The Xerophium powder is a chemical reaction created when whatever it is that composes that outside realm comes into contact with oxygen on Earth.

And just what is the outside realm?

That is the second of the three answers I do not know.

Oh.

We are all in grave danger.

Excuse me?

Whatever that outside realm is, one thing I know is that it is not empty.

What are you ta-

SILENCE.

At that point there came a sudden seismic disruption like I had never experienced before in doing so letting out a piercing roar of white noise that I could not muffle out due to a lack of hands. Despite lacking a physical form I felt the shock all the same as if it were a mighty earthquake back home. On the far left of the polygonal structure there was a web-like crack taking up almost half of the wall, Almost as suddenly as it appeared, the crack shrank, as if the wall were healing itself from the attack, and the noise faded out.

What in God’s name was that?

When existence was created, there were three things that existed before anything else. The first was existence itself. The second was me. The third was the thing that just attempted to break into this prism. Since the dawn of space and time, for as long as existence has existed, that thing has been trying to break in here. Judging by the ferociousness of the attacks it is highly likely that it is something malevolent.

But what the hell was that? What is it and what the hell does it want?

That is the third of three answers I do not know.

For the love of God… do you have any guesses?

I am incapable of the act of guessing. Aside from those three facts, I know everything else.

So… wait, am I still hallucinating? Is this all still part of the Xerophium?

You had better hope so.

Why the hell are you being so ambiguous about this? Can you not tell ho-

There came another shattering impact upon the prism wall, this crack a little larger than the first, ringing out with the same piercing white noise from before. This time the pounding came from right next to me. I craned my vision to the place of impact. What I saw was the most petrifyingly terrifying thing I had seen since ingesting the Xerophium: I saw a face. Beyond the opaque glass-like wall, I could make out the vaguest of faces receding into the darkness beyond. It was like no human nor animal face; two disproportionate eyes of a colour not possible on Earth, yet they stood out clearly against the darkness surrounding them.

I saw it! I saw the thing banging against the wall!

I have seen it too. I see it whenever it makes an attempt to break in, for only the briefest of moments.

So what in God’s name are we supposed to do?!

There is nothing we can do. Neither of us possess a physical form and, by the time you return to Earth, to your physical body, there will be nothing you can do. For as long as I have been around, that thing out there has never managed to penetrate the walls of this prism. But it cannot be said for how long this prism can resist, nor how long this thing will persist.

I have to go.

Go?

Home. You have to send me home, or however it is I leave this place. I need to tell everyone we are in danger!

You simply assume that this thing is after this puddle of existence.

What else could it be after? Do you really think the risk is one worth taking? You need to get me home!

If you believe it is worth the effort. You do realise the difficulty of convincing others of this predicament?

Yes, I do thank you. And I would hardly label this a predicament.

Very well. Brace yourself and best of luck. Fool.

And with that, the space around me began flexing and arranging itself into the vortex form that brought me there, rotating clockwise and anti-clockwise, swallowing everything before me, including myself. Within moments I had returned to my house, laying on my back, body intact and eyes as if I had been swimming in salt water. It was then I had been convinced that everyone must know of this horrendous thing trying to break into the glass prism that holds everything that has both existed and not existed, as well as the voice that knows everything except what it actually is, what created it and what this thing is outside.

Now I write to you from this godforsaken cell, and as you may have guessed from this, my plans were less than successful. Seven months it has been since I took that dreaded grain Xerophium, and now here I am, rotting away in this dank, barren cell somewhere I do not even know. I have not been told exactly where I am being kept, who it is that locked me in here or who is feeding me or who is constantly laying me unconsciousness for who knows how long at a time. But ah well. I have done everything I could, and then some, as proven by the muzzle strapped to my face as I write this very document. If I am lucky, I can still dislodge tiny slivers of flesh from between my teeth.

I do not care for this planet any more. I already know what is going to happen. The gist of it, at least. If they are unwilling to believe me, that is their problem. I guarantee you, dear reader, that as soon as that monstrosity breaks through the walls and does whatever it sets out to do, they will turn to me, begging for my forgiveness, telling me how right I was this whole time. I will be satisfied and I will not lift a finger to help them.

Just you wait and see.

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