Tuesday was the first day Jack finally felt alone.
He wept silently to himself as the drugs kicked in, riding the euphoria as it surged through his blood. Hiding the pain of his existence underneath the soothing fog of the hit. His stash was enough to go for a week this way, without stopping, no pause for come down, just up, up, up, into this sea of fuzzy bliss. Eventually, he would have to venture out to find food, but not yet. Put in for shore leave after the last mission, two whole weeks on his own, in this shit-hole. He’d snatched MREs from supply, and picked up enough booze for a big party.
Ha, party of one.
If Damien had found the stash hidden in the bottom of his duffel, his clearance would have been yanked faster than you could spit. Leaving him stranded on this dump of a moon, stuck in this system forever. He wasn't always this way, used to be more, felt like he was real, like he meant something to someone. But not now, now he felt like a muscled junkie killer, doing jobs for Damien just long enough to build up his reserves for a while, then disappearing into drug dens and the hideaways of his underworld. They always found him again though, Damien’s trackers made sure of that. They would never let him go, not until he was dead. Maybe he should try that, they would find him soon, he’d been off the reservation too long. If he was off the juice for more than one cycle, she would be pissed, and he would need an entire re-aug, instead of the burn and boost she usually used. Always had to be in peak form. Always. Fuck her, fuck Damien, fuck them, they could suck his…
“Not waiting for me are you?”
The voice spoke from the darkness, raspy and worn, like old leather left out to crack in the sun.
Startled Jack reached for a gun that was not there, hands grasping shadows.
“Just going to sit there, and not offer to share?”
The question hung in the air, a tailing hint of amusement, as if Jack was a curious, misbehaving child.
Jack had long since stopped being a child.
His eyes flicked around, still mid-rush, pupils dilated, searching frantically, twitching like the junkie he hated himself for becoming. Leaning forward and peering into the blackness around him, he could barely make out a ghostly figure seated in a dark corner of the room. Why didn’t I see him before? Jack thought to himself. He was right there the whole time, watching me shoot up.
The figure, wisps of hair and broad shoulders visible above the deflated wing-back of the chair, stirred upon the mildewing cushion, throwing dust and spores into the air, glinting in the shafts of sunlight. Feathers floated down from above.
How old was the chair? I thought Carl just bought this place, feathers? Jack shook his head, he kept getting lost. From the look of MRE wrappers around the chair, the man had been there awhile.
Do I know this guy? Is he a friend of Carl’s? Did someone let him in? Did I let him in?
The old man sat, still as a stone, eyes watching, just watching.
Someone must have been supplying MREs, and not cleaning up. Foil wrappers glinted, distracting as Jack tried to follow his thoughts around in his head.
The man continued, switching to a pleading tone, one Jack knew all to well:
“At least give me a taste? It’s not like I want your whole stash. Just a taste, taste, just a bite!”
Jack didn’t trust his senses, chemicals were flooding over him, light-headed. Not sure of reality, not too sure of the walls, or the floors, or anything really.
When Carl snuck him the key and let him in, he’d never mentioned anyone else was here, said it was his sisters place, or some shit. Why hadn’t he mentioned someone else was here? Living here? What if the man wasn’t really there? Jack didn’t mind sharing. Okay, he did, but manners and all that. Still, he didn’t want to be spilling precious drugs through a hallucination and onto the floor. Why waste a perfectly good hit on nothing at all? The floor, the wall? Maybe they’d spiked his dope, cut it some new shit, something he wasn’t used to, but he’d been so careful. Maybe not careful enough to test it, but careful.
How long had he been staring at the old man while frantic thoughts ran through his mind? Seconds? Minutes? He wasn’t sure. He used to have a wrist watch, but it didn’t move right when he was like this. He shifted, slowly moving towards the old man, trying not to scare him, this bush rabbit that suddenly appeared before him. Reaching out a hand, tentatively, trying to touch the wrinkled cloth of the old man’s shirt, he could see pit stains under the arms. If he could grasp it, touch it, seeking the tactile feel of cloth or skin, need to make the man more real. Trying to confirm the physicality of the apparition, or drive its presence out.
As he peered into the gloom and his hand moved closer, he noticed tiny blue flowers growing out of the man's legs, roots sprouting out from between the bones of bare feet and gnarled toes. Small vines, curling up around knobby ankles, entwining with the flesh of the mans calves. Shocked, Jack snatched his hand back, scared, shaking, that was it, he’d finally done it, fried his brain, bought the funny farm, lost his shit. Usually his trips were never like this, never so real, vivid.
The vines began pulsating, and with every pulse seemed to be reaching out toward him, tendrils following his movements, as if they could sense the heat of his heart, beating, pounding madly in his chest. The pulsing flowers exploded in a brilliant shower of blue and red, filling his vision with colour, overwhelming. Fading as his eyesight turned black.