Greg looked at the cigarette on the table, it looked so innocuous. He picked it up and after a few calming breaths, lit it and took a drag. He started coughing almost immediately, he grabbed his glass of water and took a sip, after the coughing had eased a bit he took another puff. He exhaled slowly, this time it didn’t burn as much. The taste of the smoke was pleasant, it brought a sweet tang with it and a smooth after taste. She had told him it was an easy smoke, but he hadn’t quite believed it. His friend Denise had managed to score it for him and she refused to say exactly where or how she had gotten it, only saying that it was intense.
Greg looked around the room, he didn’t feel different and everything looked the same. He had finished off the joint about ten minutes ago, surely he’d be feeling something by now? He stood from the couch and went over to the window, he looked down at the crowded street. Was there something going on today? Normally at this time the street was empty. Maybe a festival or a protest? There had been a lot of protests lately and he had never bothered to keep track of them. After a moment Greg grabbed his jacket and headed out the door. Denise had told him it would be fairly fast acting, maybe he just needed a bit of exercise and fresh air to get things going. There was a park nearby, large and open, it was always a good place to sit around in for a few hours.
Greg paused in the lobby, the crowds looked even denser from here. They didn’t seem to be protesting anything, in fact they didn’t seem to be making much noise at all. The people outside trudged past the windows, there was no sense of direction to the crowd, it was like everyone was just milling about. One of the people looked in and Greg froze. The mans eyes were blank, his mouth slack, it looked as though something was pulling the skin of his entire face downward, making it saggy. His eyes moved over Greg without seeing him and the man continued on. Greg’s heart began to beat faster, they all looked like that, dead, soulless eyes staring at nothing. He took a step backwards, then yelped as his back hit the cold doors of the elevator. He released a slow breath, it was just in his head, that was all. The drugs were kicking in and things were just a little freaky. The people outside were probably just on their way to lunch or something and his mind was filling in the rest.
Greg stepped outside into the cool air. None of the people seemed to notice him, they continued in their aimless walking. Greg started walking, he wanted to get to the park now, it was a nice, sunny day and the open space of the park was exactly what he needed. He started to duck and weave his way through the crowd, he got about fifty feet before he noticed that he hadn’t bumped into anyone. Everyone was moving about aimlessly, but they all seemed to avoid him, no matter how close they got, they never actually touched him. He began to walk in a straight line, the crowd subtly parting for him. As he walked he began to notice that they were all wearing odd clothes. Some were in business suits, others were in short and t-shirts, while others still were wearing pyjamas and hospital gowns and a few even looked to be dressed up in old timey costumes. Maybe there was a convention going on somewhere, wouldn’t be the first time he’d seen people in some crazy costumes walking about the place.
The park was just as busy as the street, the crowd seemed to have doubled in size, despite the park being large it seemed as if it was completely full. As he entered the gate there was a woman stretching, she looked like she was getting ready for a jog, “Man, busy day here isn’t it?”
The woman glanced around, “Uh yeah, I guess. I thought it was the same as always.” She turned away from him and continued her stretching. Greg moved deeper into the park.
He found a clear bench and sat down, the people around him were tightly packed, but he noticed no one seemed to be bumping into each other. He heard a bunch of ducks take flight from the pond, he watched them climb into the sky for a moment, then looked around again. How could he have heard them? The pond was about fifty feet away and with this many people the dull roar of the crowd should have been deafening, but it wasn’t. He couldn’t hear any of them, they moved silently and he had yet to see or hear one talk. He felt a chill race through his body. It was just the drugs, that was all. He studied the faces of those closest to him, now that he was sure they were just a hallucination he felt no guilt in staring. The only thing these people had in common were that they all seemed incredibly miserable. Not one of them smiled, they all just plodded along. Whenever he made eye contact with one he felt his stomach sink. There was something awful about those eyes, like every bad thought and feeling he had ever had were radiating from them. Nearby one of the people stumbled and seemed to fall, she wore an old style dress, it made him think of Victorian London, the crowd as a whole stopped for a brief second before they all turned as one and they attacked her. Her mouth opened in a silent scream as those closest began to tear at her dress, at her flesh. Before he had time to react the woman had been torn apart, those closest to her were coated in her blood. They closed their eyes for a moment and seemed to sigh, the blood slowly faded from their skin and then it was all over. The crowd went back to their aimless wandering. Shaking, Greg stood, he couldn’t deal with this, it was too much, far far too much. He started walking quickly, head down and looking at the pavement. He didn’t want to see anything like that again.
Greg sat on his couch, arms wrapped around a cushion. He just wanted things to go back to normal, for this to end. Every so often he would stand and peek out the window to see if the crowd was still there, they were.
When the drugs had finally worn off and the people vanished he picked up his phone and rang Denise.
“What the hell?”
“You’ve smoked it then?”
“Yeah, I did, what the hell was that stuff? It was so weird.”
“You saw them too? The people?”
“Yeah and that was all I saw, there was nothing else, didn’t even feel giggly or anything. I saw them tear a woman apart out there. It was disgusting. What the hell was it?”
“I’m sorry. I needed to know that I wasn’t crazy, that it wasn’t a lie.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The people that you saw, what were they like?”
“I don’t know, they just kind of wandered, they’d blank faces and dead eyes.”
Denise sighed, “The guy who gave it to me told me it would allow me to see the dead, what was in store for us once we died.”
“I’m sorry. I had to know if those things were real. That they weren’t just a hallucination. Those people out there, they’re always there we just cant see them. That’s what is waiting for us on the other side.”
Denise hung up, Greg lowered his phone. He looked out the window, down at the empty street that hours ago had been filled to capacity and he felt a cold pit of dread from in his stomach.