I gazed at the skyline, hypnotized by its dim outline against the darkening gray-purple sky. The orange had faded near a horizon I could not see. I could make out the rough edges of each edifice, the precise architecture of each construction, but as I gazed at them, the buildings began to mesh into each other. They began to soften and their color deepen until eventually they were spires of verdant knolls. I’d never seen such a thing. The sky settled to a deep midnight cerulean, speckled with stars. The streets had changed, too. They’d become darkened dirt roads, compressed and chilled, mud lined with lush and thick grass, tailored and groomed neatly. I could not see well in the dim night, but torches lined the street all the way to Faery Hill. I continued on, trying not to limp. I felt my strength leaving my legs and arms. The torches lit the way, but every few minutes, a glowing light would flutter by, sparkling whispers and luminescence casted around it. The lights flew by in pinks and greens, purples and blues and zipped into the air, climbing and dodging between the verdant knolls and hills. This profound hallucination was so immaculate, I felt myself short of breath, and I felt my heart start to race again. The drug had grabbed a hold of me. I stopped. I had to shake it off. I had never had a bad trip on the drug before, but I’d also never been so immersed in a delusion before. I rubbed my eyes and blinked repeatedly. The green spires and towering column knolls had vanished, and in their place, the same tired buildings that populated downtown. The fire torches were gone, too, and once again were street lights. There were no neon fire flies zipping by, only the somber darkness of a sky muted by dull city lights and reticence. Everything I’d seen before vanished to normalcy. I slouched my way up the road. A car or two passed by. I was already in downtown proper again, and on the streets of Faery Hill. The stores and restaurants were lit for the evening, and the bars had all come to life. Traffic would be substantially less on the highways now, a steady flow. Here on the streets, though, traffic was picking up again. The late dinner crowd was arriving for the bars and the restaurants. Some of the shops would close soon. The workers and the consumers of the world were changing guard for the night.
My proprietors lived off Fourth in a corner of Faery Hill not many traveled. It was dingy and dirty, and just beyond their complex was a construction site and dirt hills. It was not an attractive spot and only homeless, cruisers, and drug users occupied its shadows and corners. The complex rounded the street and was a literal dead end where thru traffic was concerned. My sellers were quiet, but cordial. Two guys were all I ever saw. I supposed they were lovers, but, to be honest, I didn’t even know if they were gay. They were both very attractive so I gathered, even if they weren’t gay, they were gay. I notified them of my arrival via text while I walked. They were cool with me stopping in. The entrance was to the left of the building, on the far side of the street from where I was coming. I had composed since leaving The Catalan, but I’d used all my paper towels and was afraid of what would happen if I started to bleed again. I guess if it were a drug related symptom, they would know.
As I approached their door, I felt another wave creeping up on me. It was like gravity was prickling the back of my skull, persuading me, coaxing me to reel back into a delusion. I stood in front of the door, wanting to knock, but also wanting this feeling to wash away. I steadied my eyes as I watched sparkling white lights slowly float from my peripherals forward. Then, a blue glowing spot fluttered by with a slight buzz. The door reflected the blue. I looked up, panicked. The door stood, the only remnant I recognized of my world. It was the entrance to the deep green, leafy mound that stood before me, and towering green spires surrounding it. The door opened and a hand seized my arm and pulled me forward. I gasped, uttering a brief shock. I was ushered in by a pair of hands that pulled and pushed at me urgently.
“Get in,” a voice said. I didn’t see anybody until the door was closed. A soft purple light turned on and I knew immediately I was in the anteroom of my proprietors.
“I—,” I began to speak, but I stammered instead.
“Don’t talk. It’s okay.” I felt his hands on my shoulders. His grasp had gentled, I supposed because I exhibited some sort of coherence. I wonder how bad I looked.
“You are much farther along than we’d expected.”
Wait. What? We walked forward. The halls were nice, elegant with crown molding and carved wooden paneling that was bisected by stone white walls. The details were almost lost in the purple light. I still did not see my counterpart.
“You’ve been using haven’t you? We could tell the moment you walked up to the door. The energy was magnificent.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The Faery Dust. The drug you’ve been peddling for us.” My head began to spin. So this was the drug’s name. It made sense. I coulda’ figured that out myself, I guess. I was somewhat relieved my seller understood what was going on with me, because that meant that he could possibly help me, and at the same time, there was something that didn’t sit well with me. It was a strange energy. We continued down the hall, the light had begun to taper off, and color re-emerged as a torch lit the hall, casting shadows that fought with the already dim hues. At last I saw him. He was standing next to me, his hair long and fawnish; his jawline was strong but delicate; his lips regal, yet inviting, his body boyish, but firm. I couldn’t explain it.
“We’d like to thank you for the excellent job you’ve done. You were doing so well.” Finality was in his tone. I wondered where he was taking me as he ushered me through a door. This is where we usually did business. I had a moment of clarity as the drug receded. I could feel the marks on my face like ghost lines. My ears had started to hurt.
“You see, Alex. There is a certainty for those who enjoy partaking in Faery Dust. It changes you.”
“What are you talking about? You mean there’s side effects? What, what kind of damage does it do?”
“It changes you.” Before I’d realized it, there was some type of cuffs around my wrists. My heart jumped.
“Hey!” I screamed at him, but the effort only made me woozy. “What are you doing?”
“Faery Dust is a very important substance to us, Alex. And in order for us to keep it in production, certain actions must be taken. Its users, for instance eventually become its manufacturers.” My dealer walked forward, standing in front of me. There was something different about him. His skin seemed soft, his ears were like mine, long and pointed. He looked like a fairy from children’s books.
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
He walked forward, a ghost in the dim room. He looked me in the eyes, his gaze met mine and I saw a veneer of gloss that sparkled deep in his irises. His pupils were bottomless pits. He huffed acutely. Thin flaps of flesh, three on each cheek lifted on his face like gills, and flapped down. My heart sank as the marks reminded me of mine.
“The drug changes you, Alex.”
A giant luminescence expanded from his eyes. It began blue and purple and brightened to white, becoming a brilliant star that surrounded me. It was warm and blanketed my body. Shadows began to thin and disappear. The details of the room and my proprietor in front of me gone, everything vanished in the light.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part five of five.
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