Find us on Google+

Heaven’s Herb – Part Two

To read “Heaven’s Herb” from the beginning, click here.

There have been two occasions during my life when I have been unconscious. The first occurred when I was a child, after a bite from a brown recluse spider resulted in my needing surgery. The second came over a decade later, when I got my wisdom teeth removed. During each instance, I was completely unaware… and yet an almost unnoticeable sense of existing still remained. I persisted without being present, somehow knowing that an ascent from the unfathomable depths would let me once again inhabit both my body and my mind. There was a threshold at the surface – one which stimulants had kept me from crossing while I was awake, and which the anesthesia kept me from approaching during my periods of oblivion – on which the smallest of ripples made it known that I was still alive.

That same sensation came to me during the eons while I was under the amrita’s spell.

When I finally woke, something was different yet again.

My next memory is of staring up at the at the hut’s ceiling, and slowly realizing that my eyes had been open for long enough to make them feel dry. I was vaguely aware that I had been seeing, but that the sight simply hadn’t registered. Remembering how to move my limbs took a strange amount of effort, but when I finally pushed myself upright, it was like emerging into a kaleidoscope of simultaneously soothing and inspiring color and sound. Details I had previously taken for granted (or simply overlooked) stood out as being just as obvious and important as the ones that demanded my attention: I could hear the quiet thrum of Yannis’s refrigerator behind the relaxed moan that escaped Ann’s lips as she stretched and smiled; I noticed the flecks of grey in Robert’s blue irises as quickly as I saw that he was watching me; the smell of my own sweat mixed with the heady, earthen scents in the room; the air felt warm and welcoming, and I could even detect the texture of the fabric that made up my clothes.

“You want drinks?” I turned to see our host grinning as though silently laughing at a joke, and I felt my own face mimicking his. “Caffeine is okay now.”

“This is amazing!” Jeff whispered. “I feel… I’m here! I’m here!”

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(“div-gpt-ad-1492513346986-1”); });

Yannis nodded. “Amrita brings you life. More than that, it brings you eternal life. Now you are awake. You will stay awake until new problems cloud your mind.” He looked from Ann to Robert and then to Jeff. “You are new. You are new. You are new.” At last, his gaze fell on me. “You resisted. Probably still feel good, but not best.” He smiled and shrugged. “Maybe next time. You want drinks?”

This time, we all readily accepted the offer. We were handed cans of off-brand cola, cold to the touch and slick with condensation. The hiss and snap of the tabs being opened was followed by the twin fragrances of sugary syrup and acrid carbonation, and the once-familiar sensation of the bubbles crackling on my tongue was like a wholly new experience. My throat burned slightly as I swallowed – a lingering result, I thought, of the tea’s intense heat – but even that felt oddly enjoyable in a way. I registered the muted pain easily enough, yet regarded it as being more intriguing than uncomfortable. It was only as I tilted my head back to drain the rest of my beverage that an unpleasant cramp formed in my neck, and my wince drew a knowing look of sympathy from Yannis.

“You see? You resisted.”

“What does that mean?” asked Robert. “‘Resisted?’” Rather than sounding like a challenge, the question came out as being guided by genuine interest.

Yannis shrugged again. “Some people hold on. They do not let amrita take them all the way. Sometimes they move a little. One man, he tried to go for a run!” A single snort of laughter punctuated the sentence. “Rare, but amrita requires a chaperone.”

The conversation continued awhile longer, covering subjects that would have been incredibly dull on any other evening. It was Jeff who finally thought to ask how long we had been asleep, and he reacted with amused confusion when Yannis checked the time on his smartphone. (We all had mobile devices, of course, but none of us had thought to look at them until then.) Our slumber had lasted just under an hour, despite seeming to have taken an entire lifetime. The total lack of any recollection from that span once again made me think of the urban legend, and of the memory-erasing properties Heaven’s Herb was reputed to possess. Having tried it for myself, I understood the truth behind the tale: Amrita didn’t expunge one’s experiences, nor even lessen their impact; it merely made them feel almost like they had happened to somebody else. It was like being spiritually and emotionally cleaned, allowing one to examine and embrace everything as though for the first time.

Unfortunately, some inner part of my mind had remained untouched by the renewal, and the stiffness in my neck was a reminder of that. I didn’t know how Yannis had been able to tell that I’d fought the effects of the drug, but his statement had every appearance of being correct. While my friends delighted in their carefree contentment, my own felt incomplete. I was the happiest and most relaxed that I could ever remember being, but it still seemed to pale when compared to the pleasure I saw in the faces surrounding me. I resolved to stay and talk with our host, and hopefully understand what had happened.

Night had well and truly fallen when we made our way outside. It seemed that Andre had been true to his threat about leaving us, because he was nowhere to be seen. Our attempts at calling him – both with our voices and our cellphones – went unanswered, leading Ann to joke that the young man would be nourishing the next crop of amrita. In truth, we all knew him to be temperamental, and we expected him to refuse contact until his ire had cooled. Robert said his farewells to me, and after confirming that he would be able to safely drive, he ushered the other two into his car and departed for San Francisco.

I had scarcely opened my mouth when Yannis began to speak. “I know what you want to ask. Why did amrita not take you?” I nodded, and the man continued. “Who can say? Maybe fear. Maybe doubt. Maybe too-strong coffee at work.” A smile pulled at the corners of his lips, but did not reach his eyes. “Maybe you just were not ready. You feel good, though?” I nodded again, and Yannis’s smile expanded. “Good! Stay some time before you leave. Look at the stars. Easier to see them here than in the city.” With that, he left, retreating from view and closing the door behind him.

The sky was certainly more brilliant than I could recall seeing before, though I was unsure if the location or the effect of the herb was responsible. I wandered in slow steps, admiring the heavens and drawing my own constellations between the sparkling motes. My aimless path took me into the deserted vineyard, where I paused to inhale the perfume of grass and decaying wood. I might have stayed there longer, but a flicker in my peripheral vision pulled my focus back to the hut, drawing my attention to a crack between two sections of its wall. A narrow beam of light was being cast outward… and growing in that illuminated space, I saw the delicate shapes of slender, shiny leaves.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

I had yet to see them whole or unobscured, but the features of amrita were unmistakable.

Given how extensive and developed his indoor farm had been, I doubted if Yannis knew that a sprout had escaped it. Even so, I crept forward as quietly as I could, hardly daring to breathe as I drew closer. A piquant aroma called to me as I brought my knees to the ground, likely more a memory than something I could actually smell. I had only intended to look – to verify what I had found – but my hands moved on their own, plunging into the dirt beneath the plant and pulling it up from the earth.

My pace was hurried as I walked to my car, though I measured each stride to keep from being audible. I kept my prize steady in one palm as I pulled out my keys, then secured myself in the driver’s seat before finally exhaling. Traces of soil fell from between my fingers, and for the first time, I considered how best to transport the fragile treasure. A vacant cup-holder might have worked as a temporary container for the sprig, but I worried that safely extracting it later would be a challenge. Finally, seeing no other option, I removed one shoe and deposited my charge within it, then held it between my legs for the entire drive home.

A journey of about seventy-five minutes brought me back to my apartment in Concord, a town located in the eastern section of the Bay Area. (Although I worked in the city, rent prices have long been so exorbitant that anyone who wished to live without roommates was forced to find housing elsewhere.) I sat for a few minutes after my car’s engine had rattled to a halt, contemplating what I had just done. Other than a star-shaped scrap of gold foil, I had never stolen anything in my life… and even that exception had occurred when I was in kindergarten. The theft of the amrita had come so easily to me, though, like it had been second-nature to simply take what I wanted and damn anything else. Rationally, I knew that I should feel ashamed, yet no guilt haunted my conscience, nor any remorse; I felt only satisfaction at having escaped without being caught. I reasoned that since Yannis had likely been unaware of the plant, I hadn’t really done any wrong, but that explanation felt like a lie.

Still, I slept soundly that night, having gently placed the herb and its soil into an empty soup can.

The following Saturday brought profound meaning to the term “the dawn of a new day.” I awoke with the sunrise, feeling alert and rejuvenated. The tightness in my neck remained, but beyond that trivial detail, every fiber of my being was eager to leap up and explore all that the world had to offer. Although I held no intentions of using it, I checked on the amrita as soon as I left my bedroom, and I was pleased to see that it looked healthier than it had the previous evening. More impressive still was that it seemed to have grown, which I took as a cue to purchase a real flowerpot. There were traces of dirt left in my shoe as I readied myself to leave the house, and I laughed aloud at the sensation of my heel grinding against the grains.

It was as I arrived at the local hardware store that I began to notice how truly far-reaching the change in me had been. Passersby walked and spoke as they always had, yet I saw them more as strangers than as individuals whom I didn’t know. Every person carried lines of fatigue and frustration on their faces; stains of worry and mistrust that dimmed their eyes and weighed invisibly on their backs. I stared with innocent confusion as hostilities were traded beneath a veneer of courtesy, even failing to feel more than curiosity when glares were thrown in my direction. Certain instincts prevailed, though, and an almost-unnoticed urge coaxed me into hurrying through my errand, lest my altered state draw undue attention. I relied almost entirely on the force of habit as I acquired both a small planter and some potting soil, then floundered through an interaction with the cashier before quickly returning to the safety of my apartment.

Once I was again alone, I felt the first pangs of doubt about my newfound tranquility. Pleasant though it was to drift through existence without the burdens of regret or apprehension, my happiness was undermined by the idea that I had been separated from the rest of humanity. An impulse to dismiss my discomfort pushed on my mind as I transferred the amrita to its new container, but that apathy stayed just out of reach. Worse still, I could think of only three other entities who might sympathize with my plight, and contact from two of them had been uncharacteristically lacking since we had parted ways. In the past, Jeff had always made a point of confirming by text message that his traveling friends had arrived at their destinations, and Robert was notorious for posting amusing images and news articles to his various social media accounts… yet both of them had been silent.

This muted anxiety grew as I dialed each of their telephone numbers, and was amplified again when neither call was answered. I tried to think of other avenues I might attempt, but keeping hold of that motivating fear became a maddening battle between concern for their safety and a seductive compulsion to simply sit back and appreciate something beautiful. It came as a mild shock when I realized that I could also reach out to Andre, whom I had somehow forgotten until then. His place as Robert’s roommate afforded him abilities that I couldn’t match from afar, and his own wellbeing – while strangely less important to me – was still in question.

The line did not even ring before I heard the young man’s voicemail message.

Panic set in at last, cutting through my languor and pumping adrenaline through my veins. I seized the emotion, afraid that it wouldn’t last, and forced myself to follow it. The next minute found me once again in my car, bound for the highway that would take me over the Bay Bridge. Traffic was light, but I nonetheless worried that my angst would abate before I could reach Robert’s house. I gripped the steering wheel as though it was the only thing keeping me from drifting off into insanity, and I breathed in fast, hissing bursts through my clenched teeth. The steady hum of the road threatened to ease my nervousness, leading me to fight the auditory incursion with the same weapon I had used in the past.

The mistake proved to be a fatal one. Where habitual behavior had been my lifeline before, this time it was my undoing: A careless gesture called the vehicle’s stereo to life, and the sudden swell of music brought literal tears of joy to my eyes. My urgency vanished, blown away by the sense of rapturous glee that replaced it. The song was familiar; one to which I could have easily hummed along, and yet it carried me to a height that no melody had ever approached. Shades of green and yellow radiated from passing hillsides, seeming to mix with the notes in a perfect symphony of sensory extravagance. I was nearly whole again, nearly free from the torment I had allowed to take me. All that remained was a quiet longing to be near those who could understand my delight.

I drove onward.

There was no answer when I knocked on Robert’s door, but I soon discovered that it wasn’t locked. After stepping inside and removing my shoes, I made my way to the living room. All three of my companions were there, looking as rested and revitalized as I felt. Ann and Robert were seated on the couch, while Jeff reclined in a cushioned chair.

“Hey, it’s great to see you!” said Jeff. “I feel amazing!”

Ann’s smile lit up the room as she offered her agreement. “Me, too! Everything is so real!”

“Have you eaten anything yet?” asked Robert. I realized that I hadn’t. “Oh, man! You won’t believe it. There are actually flavors to stuff!”

“I like the smells,” Ann purred. “They’re all so different. They’re all unique.” Jeff inhaled deeply, having apparently been encouraged by the young woman’s words, and I felt myself emulating him. The scents of chocolate and floral air-freshener flitted beneath a light layer of dust, their combined bouquet sending a shiver of pleasure down my spine. I sank down onto the couch next to Ann, close enough that I could feel both the warmth of her body and the fine hairs on her arm. Though I can’t recall how it happened, I became aware that my lips were touching hers. She laughed as she kissed me, filling my mouth with hot air that tasted like peaches. Our tongues touched against each other while the conversation went on around us, with Jeff and Robert continuing in their descriptions of all that they had experienced.

It should have felt like a homecoming, but it was lacking. The idea that I was merely pretending mocked me from an unseen corner of my psyche, keeping me from ascending to the apex that I knew was possible. Try though I did to ignore that unwelcome restraint, it infected me, and my arousal declined until it was entirely supplanted by a much more mundane pressure in my bladder. I climbed to my feet and made my way to the restroom, where – after relieving myself – I stood and stared into the mirror. No thrill of elation came with the sight, nor any transcendent vision; it was only my reflection, marked by the same lines and creases that I had seen on the faces of strangers.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Frustration plagued me, and self-loathing, and they were joined by jealousy when I returned to the living room: Ann and Robert were locked in passionate embrace, their mouths and their hips thrusting together while Jeff looked on with an expression of approval. I had been gone no longer than a handful of minutes, and yet I had been so easily forgotten. Rage and anguish flashed through me, almost more quickly than I could process, and I was ultimately left with nothing but the same emptiness that had kept me from the bond I had sought. I had been abandoned.

The sentiment started to fade almost as soon as I recognized it, but its passing left me in control again. I fled from the scene, ran past the exit, and pounded on the closed door to Andre’s room. Though my senses were still the sharpest they had been, I could hear no response; not even a rustle of movement. A crack in the paint begged me to notice it, but I shoved the distraction from my mind. The knob refused to turn in my grasp. My shouts went unanswered. Laughter reached me from elsewhere in the house, and I wondered what merriment I was missing. I kicked at the door once, and again, and again… and the wraithlike cobwebs clinging to a nearby window swayed in a slow and calming pageant, lulling me back into stillness.

Ann had removed most of her clothing by the time that I rejoined the gathering. I could count the freckles that dotted the young woman’s chest. The entanglement between her and Robert had halted, but vespers of resentment still incensed me. I asked myself – not for the first time, I realized, but perhaps for the first time with these words – what absence within me was responsible for my segregation. I felt the same revelry, and I was conscious of all that they were, and yet an errant piece had never fallen into place. I was no more connected here than I had been to the people on the street, and this state of half-being had cast me as an interloper amidst everyone I might encounter.

I do not fully recall driving home. Sensations overwhelmed me, and I indulged myself in them, all the while hoping that some epiphany might make me complete. It never came, and as I neared my front door, I could think only of Yannis’s casual comment: “You resisted. Probably still feel good, but not best. Maybe next time.” Those words continued to resonate as the day passed and the sun set, and by nightfall, I had come to the one conclusion I had been avoiding.

Only one solution was available to me, and it was nestled in the pot I had purchased that morning.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Part Three of “Heaven’s Herb” will be offered on Friday, May 12th.

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



Creepy Pasta

by cnkguy
Heaven’s Herb – Part Two

Posted in Creepy Pasta and tagged by with no comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *