Secret Worship. Short Story.

Andrea stared at the tiny pill in her hand, so much power in such a small thing. It was black, almost impossibly so, to her it looked as though it absorbed the light around it. There were no markings on the pill, no etchings or pretty pictures, there was just the darkness. She could feel it reaching out through the palm of her hand, searching, yearning for the warm, sticky-smooth feel of her blood. Andrea took a deep breath, then with an almost casual flip of her hand she threw the pill into her mouth. It was harsh, bitter with a sour tang that almost burned, she brought the cup of water to her mouth and quickly took a gulp, washing it all down. The taste stayed in her mouth, she had been warned it would. She took a small bottle of mouthwash from her bag and quickly swished it around. She had about a half an hour before it hit. Plenty of time to get rid of the taste.

Andrea sat in her small room. The carpet was a pale blue, the walls a light cream that had been covered with pictures and posters. A desk took up one wall, her bed the other. A small flat screen TV hung on the wall opposite. She lay back on her bed, watching the cartoons as they moved across the screen. Andrea shifted, getting comfortable, moving the duvet this way and that. Her parents were away and wouldn’t return for another two days. She had plenty of time to come down and be back to normal. They’d never know. She wondered if her pupils were dilating yet. Her heart beat began to increase, was it responding to the chemicals or just her own fear? She took a sip of water, her mouth dry. Everyone liked taking it in clubs, she never understood why. Alcohol would dull the edge, the loud music would just infringe. No, she wanted to take it in solitude. It seemed right, almost holy, to do so. Soon she would feel it, ride the waves downwards into darkness.


She didn’t know when it hit. There was no falling away of the veil, one moment she was lying in bed, the next she wasn’t. A big, goofy grin appeared on her face as she stood from the grass. It was different for everyone apparently. The scent in the air was odd, but good. A mixture of apples and popcorn and candyfloss. She could smell them separately and together, the smells danced with one another, twisted and cavorted. She took a deep breath, aware that it shouldn’t smell good, but not caring that it did anyway. A sudden wind picked up, it washed over her, filling her up. There was no feeling to it, it was not hot or cold, it just was. Around her the trees swayed and giggled to each other in their own, whispery language. Elsewhere she could hear the steady beat of a stream, providing it’s own music, it’s own rhythm. She spun in a circle, the light intoxicating and warm on her skin. Somewhere there were birds and far off the sound of a party, horns and pipes and laughter. All of it making the sweetest sounds. Andrea stopped spinning and instead, she started to walk, her first destination was a tree, the oldest and strongest in the small clearing in which she had found itself. She felt its bark, running her hands along the rough edges, feeling it shiver beneath her touch, she leaned against it, listening to the dull, slow throb of life from inside. She laughed and stood back, then she stumbled from the clearing, she needed to find the stream. It was so important.


She found it, not a stream, but a river, glistening in the sun. She waded in, not worrying about currents or her clothes. It was a lazy river, a kind one. The water was just barely warm making it soothing and invigorating. She dived beneath the water, feeling it rush over her, coating her, marking her. She burst from it, then everything froze. Droplets of water hanging in the air like pure diamonds, glittering in the light, a rainbow to her left, impossibly bright, impossibly perfect. Then time resumed and she landed in the water again.

Andrea played until she had her fill, then she left the stream behind, emerging dry and warm onto the far bank. She could hear them all now, not just the birds, but the general murmur and talk of animals as they went through their days, singing to one another.


In the distance Andrea could still hear the party, though she knew she could never make it there, every time she tried she would stumble from place to place, finding things that were more and more beautiful than the last until she woke in a daze, in the drab, boring world she had been given to. Andrea danced and flitted from one clearing to the next, sampling ripe, juicy fruits in one and eating hunks of hot, succulent meat in another. She was pure, a reveller, a unit for the cosmos to express itself, it would be a sin for someone to come here and not enjoy themselves, it would be a crime, a transgression of the highest order.


And so, Andrea enjoyed herself sampling things here and there, dancing and laughing to her own music until she felt it. A small faint breeze, slightly chilled. The sun seemed to lose some of its shine, its vigour. She continued to celebrate, though it took on a frenzied, desperate tone, the end was coming, soon she would wake. Andrea scooped up an apple and bit into it’s flesh, firm and juicy, sweet with a welcome tang to it. She crunched the apples flesh between her teeth once, twice, then it was gone, her mouth empty, dry and cramping slightly in anticipation of an apple that would never come.


Andrea reached out blindly until she found her glass of water, then she tipped some into her mouth, thin rivulets of water flowing down either side of her mouth, chilling her chest as it soaked into her thin t-shirt. After a moment she opened her eyes, looking at her clock. Seven hours had past. She stood and stumbled to the bathroom on tired, shaky legs. Once there she sat on the toilet and peed, when she was done she stayed sitting, trying to summon the energy to stand. When she finally stood, she flicked on the light, wincing slightly, and stared at herself in the mirror. Her eyes had a wild, faraway look, her pupils blots of darkness in her eye, her skin looked pale, almost translucent. She turned from her reflection and stumbled back to her room. Her stomach grumbled in dismay, calling for food. She had no interest in eating just yet. Anything she ate would be disgusting now anyway. On the TV cartoons played on. She reached into her bag and looked at the small bag of pills she had left. There were six. She could go again in the morning, maybe even tomorrow night too. She put them away again, already tempted to have another.

She had to save them, ration them out. Make them last. These were the last ones, there was no more once they were gone. Well. That wasn’t true. These were the last safe ones. Sure she could go out and buy more if she wanted, but there was no guarantee there. They all had the extra ingredient. These were pure. The chance of dying wasn’t too bad, but dying wasn’t the only side effect, nor was it the worst.
She had to keep these safe. Wait to use them. She didn’t want to become an addict. She wouldn’t. Of course she wouldn’t, look at her. She was raised right. Went to a good school. She was a good girl. She wouldn’t become an addict. Her hand twitched slightly towards the bag. Andrea stood from the bed and marched downstairs. It wasn’t too late, the pizza place down the road was still open. She would have that. Hot and tasty. It would be as good as anything else she had eaten while she was on her trip. She grabbed the menu from the kitchen and read through the options, forcing herself to choose.

When it arrived, she managed to eat three slices and no more. She told herself she just wasn’t that hungry. That was all. She put the left over’s into the fridge, she could have it for breakfast. She crawled into bed, her body tired and heavy. She watched the cartoons on her TV as she drifted in and out of sleep. Just before her sleep became real and restive, she turned her head, barely aware she was doing it, and the last thing she saw was her bag.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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