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Heaven’s Herb – Part One

(Editor’s Note: Due to both the length and the unique nature of this story, it will be offered in several parts.)

In the wake of the 2016 American election, several changes occurred in the country. One of the more highly publicized and celebrated of these developments was California’s legalization of marijuana for recreational use. While the objective impact has thus far been quite subtle, a small number of people who live in the San Francisco Bay Area have credited it as being responsible for the rise of a curious urban legend. The details of this story often shift depending who is offering it (or when it is being told), but one element remains unchanged throughout each telling.

They call it “Heaven’s Herb.”

You may have already heard this tale. If you haven’t, it’s simple enough to follow: A grower from Mendocino County had supposedly been trying to breed a new strain of cannabis, and had inadvertently unlocked a dormant piece of genetic code. Accounts vary on how this occurred – some claim that it was a freak mutation, while others offer laughable descriptions of dark magic – but in any case, the end result was allegedly a fragile-yet-fast-growing plant, said to foster a state of blissful euphoria in anyone who consumed it. This effect was claimed to be so profound that people would quite literally forget their troubles, emerging from their intoxication with a new, often completely serene outlook on life.

Of course, no such narrative would be complete without an unlikely twist toward the macabre, and this one is no different. It was eventually revealed – although by whom, nobody ever seems to know – that the sickly nature of this botanical anomaly was such that it required fresh blood for nourishment. Seeing the growing demand, its creator took to slaughtering immigrants and drifters, using their still-warm corpses as wellsprings for the crop. (The question of why this farmer immediately resorted to human sacrifices has not been answered, and tends to draw irritated glares from storytellers.) It took the disappearance of a wealthy college student before law enforcement got involved, after which the plot was exposed, the murderer was jailed, and the remnants of the harvest were burned… although rumors still persist that a few seeds survived, having mysteriously vanished during the investigation.

Very little about the story stands up to any sort of scrutiny, and yet it always seems to arise during those moments when smoke-induced paranoia levels are at their highest. I have personally heard versions in which ground-up bones were used as fertilizer, and one particularly embellished rendition included a decapitated head being employed as a makeshift flowerpot. The reactions people have to each retelling are entirely predictable, too, usually ranging from affected fear and sarcastic eye-rolls to exaggerated amusement that’s meant to disguise genuine unease. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I encountered a response which at all surprised me, and the speaker’s single sentence was the catalyst for what would become an utterly horrifying ordeal:

“Heaven’s Herb isn’t weed.”

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I had been spending the evening at my friend Robert’s house, drinking away the tension of a simultaneously stressful and monotonously dull work week. There were five of us seated in the living room that night, those being myself, Robert, his roommate Andre, our mutual friend Jeff, and a young woman named Ann. Ann was something of a stranger to us at the time, having recently met Robert via some dating site or another… and although the utter lack of chemistry between them had stopped any thoughts of romance in their tracks, she had enjoyed the group’s company enough to continue attending our get-togethers. It was she who had offered the statement in question, after the presence and subsequent lighting of a glass pipe had prompted yet another recital of the urban legend.

Jeff, who had been offering the tale, stopped as soon as he was interrupted. “What do you mean?”

“Heaven’s Herb isn’t weed,” Ann said again. “It’s a real thing, but it’s not marijuana.”

“Whoa, whoa, wait… hang on.” Andre rose from his relaxed position on the couch, focusing his eyes on the girl. “What do you mean, ‘it’s a real thing?’ It’s not a real thing.”

“It’s rare,” Ann replied, “but it’s real. My ex-boyfriend’s brother tried it once.”

Muted scoffs and knowing smirks were tossed around the room, with each of us muttering variations of the same thought. Modern myths are often prefaced by a person claiming to have a personal connection to them, albeit via some link which can neither be challenged nor confirmed. Although none of us knew Ann particularly well, she had already developed a reputation for being a witty prankster of sorts, and we all assumed that she was adding her own twist to the tale.

“Alright, let’s hear it, then!” Robert said. “What’s it like? Does it really erase your memory?”

Ann shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. It’s supposed to be like ketamine, I guess. It’s a disassociative high.” The blank looks on our faces must have said more than our words, because she sighed and continued. “Okay, have you guys ever tried salvia?”

“I have.” Jeff held up his hand, looking rather like an overgrown elementary school student. “It was alright. I kind of lost track of… everything.” He shrugged and grinned, prompting barely stifled giggles from the rest of us.

“Yeah, well, it’s supposed to be like that. Almost… almost an out-of-body experience, except that your body is the whole world.” Several seconds passed in silence as Ann seemed to consider her next thought. “I could probably get us some, if you wanted.”

“What?” asked Andre. “Salvia? Ketamine?”

“Heaven’s Herb.”

“Sure, sure,” Robert replied. “We’ll all meet up in El Dorado and smoke it in the Fountain of Youth.”

Jeff held up his hand again. “Uh, the Fountain of Youth was supposed to be in Florida.”

“Bimini,” corrected Andre. “Florida has too many old people.”

Laughter filled the air, and when it finally died down, Ann spoke again. “Really, though,” she said, “I still have his number. If you want to try Heaven’s Herb, just give me a few days.”

That was the point when we started to consider the possibility that Ann wasn’t joking. For me, at least, the prospect of the plant being real was simultaneously frightening and alluring. The various chemicals addling my mind may have been partially responsible, and the young woman’s beauty (which was quite profound) almost certainly played a role in this perspective, but the more I thought about it, the more I caught myself hoping that the offer was a legitimate one. I’ve never been one to experiment with too many substances, but the chance to try something with such a fantastic reputation was oddly enticing.

It turned out that I wasn’t alone in my opinion, either: One by one, my friends all voiced their interest, with Andre offering the caveat that he was still skeptical. Ann promised to let us know when she had acquired some of the mysterious herb, and the conversation turned to different topics shortly thereafter.

Several days would pass before I thought about any of that again, and when I was finally reminded of it, a new detail came to light: Robert told me (via text message) that Ann had made good on her word, and had secured a source of Heaven’s Herb. If we wanted to try some, however, we would have to do so in the presence of the person who cultivated it, as the preparation was reportedly too complex and the window for use too brief for an amateur to attempt. I was less than thrilled by the plan, but echoes of the anticipation I’d felt during our previous time together coaxed me into agreeing.

Directions were provided to a place on the outskirts of a town called Kenwood, located about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Jeff and I drove together – with Robert, Andre, and Ann traveling in a second car – and we arrived just as the sun was starting to set. The location was one of the eeriest I had ever seen: Chest-level wooden poles dotted an overgrown field surrounded by trees, and although my rational side knew that I was looking out over the remnants of a vineyard, I would have easily believed a person who told me that it was a long-abandoned cemetery. A large, circular hut stood at the end of a short dirt road, with the only sign of life being a rusty pickup truck parked near its front door.

“So, this is creepy,” Robert said, stepping out of his vehicle. Ann and Andre followed him, and the five of us peered around. “Are we sure this is the right place?”

As if in answer, the hut’s door opened. A harsh yellow glow shone out from behind a tall silhouette, which began to stalk toward us with slow, measured steps. Someone behind me – I didn’t turn to see who – quickly stumbled backward, putting Robert’s car between them and the approaching figure. Eventually, as the light of dusk filled in the contours of his face, the shadow was revealed to be an olive-skinned man with an unkempt beard. I could feel him appraising each of our group as he drew closer, and when finally spoke, it was to the newest member.

“You Ann?” the man asked. “You Erik’s friend?” His voice was colored by an accent that I didn’t immediately recognize, but which I assumed to be Mediterranean in origin.

Ann nodded. “You’re Yannis?”

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For a few tense moments, there was no reply. “You said four.”

“Four plus me,” Ann answered. “We have the money.” She reached into her purse and produced a short stack of bills. I’d been told nothing about what I needed to pay, so I assumed that I would be expected to reimburse the young woman later. In truth, the thought was a welcome return to normalcy, as I had been growing more uncomfortable with the situation by the second.

The man – Yannis – took another step forward, practically snatching the cash from Ann. He counted through it with practiced motions, then visibly relaxed.

“Okay. Come inside.”

Without waiting for any of us to respond, our host turned and strutted back toward his dwelling, pausing at the door to allow my friends and me to enter before him. The interior was strangely decorated, but not unwelcoming: A half-dozen enormous cushions formed a ring around a low table at the center of the single room, the walls of which were lined by plastic-covered planters. Each box had a bright lamp shining into it – the source of the light that I’d seen – and narrow, spindly leaves were just barely visible through the dew that clung to the transparent sheets. The aroma of moist soil reached my nostrils, as did the earthy stench of compost, but I dismissed them as Yannis gestured for us to sit down. He did not join us, instead walking over to a miniature refrigerator near the one section of wall not occupied by his farm.

“You want drinks?” he asked. “No caffeine.” When nobody answered, he just shrugged and returned to the group, then lowered himself onto the one cushion that had been left vacant. “Okay. You know the story?”

Andre let loose a derisive snort. “About watering the marijuana with blood? Yeah, we know it.”

“Not that bullshit,” Yannis replied. His face contorted into an expression of distaste. “This is not marijuana. This is amrita.”

At the mention of the word, Robert seemed to perk up. “What, like, ambrosia? The food of the gods?”

“Yes!” For the first time since our arrival, our host smiled. “Your friend is smart. The gods would feast on ambrosia, and be given eternal life. Just a myth, but with some truth inside. You drink a tea made from amrita, you feel like a new person. All your aches? Gone. Your sadness? Gone.”

“Sounds like Percocet,” muttered Andre. “I didn’t come all this way for some prescription painkillers.”

If Yannis heard the grievance, he ignored it. “Bees would make honey from the flower of amrita. Ambrosia. Ancient Greeks would make mead from the honey. Nectar.”

“Isn’t…” Jeff began, only to cut himself off. Yannis turned to stare at him. “Sorry, I just thought mead was a Norse thing.”

“Mead came before wine in Greece,” the man replied. “Honey can heal and cleanse. Amrita honey can do more. The tea, it does most of all. Once you drink, you are different; you are cured.”

There is scientific evidence for many of the claims made about various narcotics. Marijuana is said to slow the growth of cancer, for instance, and psilocybin (the active chemical in hallucinogenic mushrooms) has shown promise in fighting depression. Even so, the idea that a tincture made from a mystical leaf could somehow offset every ailment struck me as being absurd. I began to suspect that Andre was right; that we were about to imbibe a beverage which mimicked a refined opiate.

Ann shifted on her cushion. “So, how is this going to work? You make the tea, then we all drink it?”

“No.” Yannis’s single, flat syllable called my attention back to him. “I will not drink. You will be asleep. I will wait for you to wake.”

“Hey, no, hang on!” Andre moved as though readying himself to stand. “We’re not going to pass out while you hang around and… whatever!”

“Calm down,” Jeff murmured.

“What, you’re okay with this?” The young man folded his arms. “How do we even know what’s in this stuff? If we’re drinking, he’s drinking.”

Yannis shook his head. “Amrita requires a chaperone.”

“Yeah?” Defiant though he sounded, there was a tremor of fear in Andre’s voice. “Well, maybe I’ll be the chaperone, then, if it’s so damned important.”

Robert shot a glare across at his roommate. “You’re being a dick, dude.”

“No, you know what? Screw this!” Andre pulled himself to his feet. “This is sketchy as hell. Let’s get out of here.” He waited for a moment, but none of us moved to join him. “Fine. Have fun getting robbed. I’m taking a Lyft back.”

Nobody answered, and following a pointed slam of the hut’s door, our number was one fewer.

“Sorry about him,” said Robert. “He didn’t mean…”

Yannis held up a dismissive hand. “Just as well. Resisting amrita can be dangerous. You must be willing to let it take you.” He stood up then, and moved across to one of the nearby planters. A faint scent filled the air as the plastic was pulled aside, its sharpness reminding me of basil… although the leaves that Yannis retrieved bore no resemblance to the herb: They were very long and equally as thin, with slightly serrated edges and a waxy sheen to their surface. Although a verdant green at first glance, hints of violet – subtle enough that they might almost have been a trick of the light – were visible beneath the surface.

The cuttings were placed on the table, and were soon joined by a hot plate, a frying pan, a wooden board, and a scalpel. Four ceramic mugs were added to the collection next, each of them having been filled from an electric kettle. Yannis spoke in low tones as he made his preparations, and we all watched with interest as his hypnotic voice filled the silence.

“The origin of amrita has been lost to time. It appears in many legends. Homer wrote of it as being made into wine with the color of a rose. The Rigveda mentions it as soma.” Yannis placed the frying pan atop the hot plate, the dial of which he turned to the highest setting. “It was grown by the Greeks, Indians, and Egyptians. Never in great quantities. Never more than was needed.” He took the scalpel between his thumb and forefinger, and after laying out the leaves on the wooden board, made a single, perfectly straight incision down the center of each one. The bitter scent grew in strength, making my eyes water and the skin of my face start to tingle. “Seeds traveled with healers and prophets. They were brought to the Israelites. They were brought to the Druids. They arrived in South America with the Olmecs. Every culture has tasted ambrosia. Few remember it, but legends of its power remain.”

As the air started to warp and dance above the frying pan, Yannis slid the leaves onto its surface. Their color began to fade almost immediately, shifting from green to brown. “The gods were said to have ichor in their veins, created and nourished by amrita. Drinking the nectar would change mortals inside. Some achieved enlightenment. Others found a connection with each other. In all cases, the ecstasy was unmatched.” The leaves continued to change in hue, becoming a deep, ruby red. At the same time, beads of crimson sap began to bubble up from the cuts, leading me to wonder if they had been the source of the blood mentioned in the Heaven’s Herb legend. “Now, you will know it.”

With fast, deliberate motions, Yannis plucked the leaves from the frying pan, depositing one into each of the mugs. Tendrils of pink swirled out into the water, grasping like ghostly fingers at something unseen. For a moment, I imagined hearing whispers, beckoning me from almost beyond the reach of my perception.


Ann wasted no time in downing the concoction, and the rest of us quickly followed suit. The water’s heat threatened to scald my throat as I swallowed, and it masked any flavor that might have been present. A mild wave of nausea came over me, but passed as soon as I noticed it. Beyond that, I felt nothing out of the ordinary.

After a few minutes, Jeff peered down at the remnants of his drink. “Are you getting anything yet?”

“Nope,” answered Robert. He glanced over at Yannis. “How long is it supposed to take?”

The man spread his palms and shrugged. “It will happen when you are ready. Relax.”

Whether as the result of impatience, anticipation, or the fear of what might be ahead, I felt myself growing anxious. I shifted on my cushion, adjusting my legs from one position to another and back again, my motions prompted by nervousness rather than any search for comfort. The others seemed more bored than restless, and I realized that my behavior must have been unnerving. I forced myself to keep still, and I leaned forward to put my mug down before I dropped it.

In that moment, something was different.

Although it was right in front of me – and although I could see my myself reaching out – the table was impossibly far away. Even as I watched, everything around me grew both larger and more distant, though the endless changes seemed like they had always been. Images and echoes came from seconds in the past, then minutes, with each one lengthening and blending into a single enduring eternity. I was a drop of water in an infinite ocean. The clatter of ceramic on wood reached my ears, only to be drowned in a deep, booming pulse that I could feel throughout my entire body. My enormous hands turned in front of me, their presence little more than two shapes on the horizon… and as I struggled to understand, I fell backward into darkness.

The world was gone.

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(Part Two of “Heaven’s Herb” will be posted on Friday, May 5th.)

The post Heaven’s Herb – Part One appeared first on Creepypasta.



Creepy Pasta

by cnkguy
Heaven’s Herb – Part One

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