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im_an_elephant_rider's picture im_an_elephant_rider
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So for my filmschool application i had to submit a portfolio of written work.  As most of my stuff was scribbled on looseleaf i decided to write something fresh. I tried out a short story, having never written in this form before; the style is admittedly biting Palahniuk and King hard.

It got me into the writing program at  Vancouver film school. But then i said 'fuck film school" so i thought Chuck fans may enjoy it.

Based very loosely on a personal LSD experience:



By: Matt Laberge



You hear a lot of urban legends in the drug world. A man on PCP goes berserk, smashes a mirror, and uses the shards to slice off his face and feed the pieces to his dog. A group of college students on LSD go blind staring at the sun. Art Linkletter’s defenestrated daughter. The turkey is in the cradle and the baby is in the oven.

My favorite was always the “Orange juice man” story. A guy tries to smuggle a hundred-lot of acid across the border. While going through customs, he gets so nervous he sweats through the blotter and absorbs all the LSD into his skin. He ends up in a psych ward because he thinks he’s a glass of orange juice. And he won’t dare go to sleep, lest someone drink him.

Everyone has an “Orange juice man” story. Friend of a friend, bullshit, scare-lore; most likely generated by anti-drug campaigners.

I had taken acid over a hundred times and I couldn’t see how it’s possible to be so taken in by such a ridiculous delusion. LSD wouldn’t create false reality; the hallucinations, the change of mind state, that was just the drug unveiling the reality that is already there. And what could be bad about that? 

 So let me tell about the day my head exploded.

My friends and I used to take these trips -- and I mean that literally as well as colloquially -- we used to call “Crowd Surfing”. This meant dropping a few hits of acid and submerging ourselves in some threadbare social activity where we knew that the majority of the attendants would be not only drug-sober but have no involvement in or knowledge of drug-culture whatsoever. It was always something like a street festival or a bus tour, anything pedestrian with a lot of people. Once we even “Crowd Surfed” in the ticket line for Star Wars Episode 1. We had no intention of seeing the movie; we just wanted to feed on the vibe of that crowd for the eighteen hours they were together outside that theater.

When people are in large crowds and involved in these communal activities, they are pulsing with a feeling of ritual and ceremony.  It’s as if there’s this genetic memory embedded in every human being of how to order a hotdog at a baseball game, what proper etiquette is at a clambake, or how to properly conduct yourself when a fist fight breaks out at a circle-jerk. A good crowd is its own entity, a pure vibe.

We would go to these events and be totally detached from the cadency of the crowd, totally independent of the hive and able to observe. We were too jaded by drugs to get any exhilaration from a barn dance. We had opened too many doors of perception to really enjoy a mall opening. Even a fireworks display can be pretty boring for a career LSD guru.

My friend Cory said he liked Crowd Surfing because it was funny to watch the “cattle”. Dana said it was an interesting sociological experiment. Muggs used to say: “Man, I’m just here for the titties!” But I think we all did it because it was a way that we could still enjoy those things on some level; a desperate attempt to hold onto our last shreds of innocence. It was a way that we could still have a blast at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

On this particular evening it’s Cory’s turn to choose the destination. He suggests the Oakwood Fair, a pathetic little carnival held annually in a high income suburb. We all agree: it’s perfect!

We arrive ten minutes after the acid had begun to take its hold on us. It was me, Cory, Muggs and Dana -- the whole Crowd Surfing crew. The drug had come on fast. The tingling you get at the back of your teeth that usually comes twenty minutes after you first drop was there in only five. That warm feeling that swells in your guts like an orgasm followed almost immediately after the old chompers got their pins ‘n needles. This was the best part: the oncoming, the anticipation of the illustrious peak.

It’s not a successful climb, unless you enjoy the journey.

We walk through the opening in the nylon rope that borders the circumference of the carnival and it’s like passing through a thick gooey membrane into another world.

Before passing out of the comfort of my world and into my imminent doom I remember my only concern was:  if laughter is the best medicine, why did George Carlin’s wife die of liver cancer?

We leave our safe little habitat of order and understanding and enter the realm of absolute chaos. A tidal wave of stimuli grabs us and the undertow sucks us into its darkest depths.

This is what it must be like to be instantly teleported to the surface of Jupiter: incomprehensible storms of colored gases and shrieking, alien winds. Your blood boils in your veins before you’re crushed under your own body weight, snapping every bone and collapsing every organ.

We’re in front of the Ferris Wheel. And I am made of lead. The lights flicker on the whirring Tea Cup ride. And the sky is violent and screaming. Carnie barkers call out their attractions. And the earth is cooking my blood through my feet. Children shriek with delight as they ride the roller coaster. But all I can feel is the atmosphere collapsing my lungs.

I talk myself down, “It’s just the drug, don’t let your mind run away with you. Take a deep breath. You’re not on Jupiter.”

The Chaos subsides.

For a few moments I can hear every buzz, hum, and clank of all the rides’ machinery and I know the origin of every sound. I can hear and distinguish every word of every inane conversation in the entire mob. I can see every individual mosquito that’s in the air or suckling at the vein of a fairgoer. The confusion is over, but in its place is an overwhelming and terrifying state of complete and utter clarity.  

It’s then that I turn to Cory for comfort. But when I see him, he’s hysterical with laughter. I want to ask him if he’s seeing this, but all I can muster is something like, “This is be fucked?” And he only responds with more heaving laughter. Muggs and Dana are off somewhere buying corndogs. I just close my eyes.

Stanislav Grof said that the function of the brain is to reduce all the available information and lock us into a limited experience of the world. LSD frees us from this restriction and opens us to a much larger experience.

Yeah, tell that to Diane “I can fly” Linkletter.  Kids say the darndest things.

When I open my eyes things are different. The crowd, all those faces, they’re bizarre and monstrous. They all look the same: turned up noses with elongated nostrils and grotesque overbites. They look like those fucking things in that old Twilight Zone episode “The Eye of The Beholder”. Every man, woman, and child have become these hideous alien things.

And that’s what they must be. An ancient alien race living among us, disguised as us. But now I can see through those disguises, I can see their real faces.

I had once heard a theory that at the top of the bureaucratic food chain, above the US government, the Free Masons, and even the Illuminati, was a race of reptile-like extraterrestrials that have been among us since the dawn of civilization. They came to enslave us while they reap all of our planet’s resources and breed with our women. All of this is happening under our noses because it appears as a normal social hierarchy. The poor stay poor and the rich get richer. Only it’s the aliens who are the ones who have the money and power and us who are their working class slaves. It makes perfect sense that they’ve gathered here in Oakwood; no one below a six figure income lives in Oakwood.

They can fool our minds into seeing them as human, but not me, not anymore, now I see. The LSD has tapped some -until very recently- dormant receptors in my brain and it’s overridden whatever hypnotic suggestion they had implanted into our species’ gene-pool. And now I see the bastards for what they are: the fucking Nephilim.

I look through the crowd at Dana and Muggs returning to us with their corndogs… Human… Thank Christ. I look over my shoulder at Cory, he’s still laughing about some inside joke between himself and the mosquitoes orbiting his head, but he’s human.  All three of them: human. Yet it’s clear that all three are oblivious to this new insight.   

So what are the plans of these intergalactic fiends? Surely the current arrangement they have with the earth natives won’t keep them satisfied forever. Eventually they are going to want more.

They’ll put us in work camps, have us build their temples, drill for their oil, and mine their gold and diamonds for them. They’ll have us fight each other to the death in large gravel arenas, for nothing more than their entertainment.

And for those of us who are incapable of hard labor or refuse to bow to them as our masters, we’ll be slaughtered like cattle and liquefied so the pricks can drink us to gain our wisdom and our knowledge. Who knows, maybe they have some kind of microwave ray gun that can instantly turn everything in your head into mush. Then it’s just a matter of poking a straw into your skull and slurping out the good stuff: grade nine French, all the finishing moves in Mortal Combat, your secret spaghetti sauce recipe.  All of your memories and experiences would be theirs. And all in the time it takes to gulp down a smoothie. Bastards! Rotten, bucktoothed mother fuckers!   


I must have said that out loud and clear enough to be heard over the blaring of the fair noise because now, they’re all staring at me.

Fuck. They know. They know I know. And knowing them, they probably know I know they know. I’m in no condition to defend myself physically or psychically. Though my vision is still perfectly lucid, the auricular clarity I once had has disappeared; all the sounds and voices have overlapped and degenerated to a sonic mud. It sounds like a blown guitar amplifier with a tremolo effect on it. A low hum: swelling in and out and seemingly in rhythm with the pulse in my head.

One of the uniformed reptiles walks into my field of vision and says something that’s either, “Are you OK?” or, “Tastes like OJ!”

I say, “Drink this, fucktoss!” and swing a haymaker punch at his beastly face. I feel my fist connect and liberate a couple of his protruding teeth from his reptilian jaw.

The next second I’m off my feet and being carried through the crowd. Muggs under one arm, Cory cackling under the other and Dana is a yard or so ahead, leading our path. I find my feet and start running with them. But the humming noise is becoming intolerable and terrifying, making it difficult to keep my equilibrium. Luckily the boys still have me by the arms and Dana finds a quick and clever route for our getaway.

They take me to the pre-designated safe spot. We always have one picked out before Crowd Surfing, in case of just such an emergency. You know, a sanctuary just in case one of us unveils a plan of world domination by a secret society of gecko-people. Today it’s underneath the Oakwood overpass, a block or so from the fair. Either Cory or Muggs says: “We lost ‘em.”

I’ve got my eyes closed and I’m breathing into my hands. I was sure that the terrible pulsing hum would be gone, that I would have left it with that horrific carnival. That busted guitar amp moaning in my brain; I was sure that once we were out of there it would go away. But it’s here, in my head, and it’s getting louder; it’s pulsing faster and its pitch is getting higher. It’s too much, all those dormant receptors suddenly switching on; they had to take in too much information at once.

Faintly, through the ghastly hum, I can hear my friends’ questions. They have been coming non-stop since we’ve been in under the bridge.

 “What’s up with you man?”

“Is it a bad trip?”

“I’ve never seen you lose control like that. Are you alright?”

“Do you think it’s a bad batch or something?”

“Did you see those dumb fucks’ faces?”

“Oh God, do you think we got some bad acid?”

I have no intention of answering any of these questions. And alerting them to the threat of the Nephilim is becoming less and less of a priority. All I want to tell them is that my temples are swelling in and out with the pulse of this ominous hum in my skull. I want to tell them that there are some blown transistors on the old circuit board and it’s starting to feel like we might lose the whole hard drive. I want to tell them to take me to the hospital, but all that comes out is, “Thive my tikuloare!”

Their voices are totally drowned out now, all I hear is the blaring hum. I open my eyes and I see that they’ve lost interest in me anyway. Cory is skipping stones on the river and Dana is squatting by a bush taking a piss. Muggs has snuck up behind her and is taking pictures with his cell phone.

The hum – which is now more of a full out screech -- has gotten to a deafening volume, the pulse is so rapid, the tone so high pitch that it now sounds like an ambulance siren going off in a cathedral.

My temples aren’t swelling in and out anymore, they are just expanding outward. My whole fucking brain is swelling and it’s going to burst through my skull!

My hands now holding my head, I’m ready for whatever is about to happen.


There is an instant of blinding white light and the most inexplicable, excruciating agony you can imagine surges through my cranium like an electric shock. My hands go numb and fall to my sides.

The next instant is the feel of my skull. There are chunks missing! It feels like a busted eggshell! Holy Christ my head just burst! GOD HELP ME, MY FUCKING HEAD JUST BLEW UP!

Wait, if my head just blew up, how could I be aware of it? I mean, shit… my head just blew up.

I slowly reach up, to assess the damage. It’s all there, the whole skull fully intact. Not only that, the pain is gone. And fuck me runnin’, no hum!

Peace at last.

It’s then that I hear Muggs declare that he’s going to put his photo of Dana’s beef curtains up on her Myspace page and how she doesn’t know he has her password. But when I look at him his lips aren’t moving. I hear Cory ask himself if his father is ever going to be proud of him, but he’s not speaking. Dana is trying to decipher the lyrics to “Blinded By the Light”; she’s singing, “…wrapped up like a douche, and it’s the middle of the night...” over and over again. But she’s giggling at the same time! How can that be?

I can hear birds in the near by trees, warning each other of our presence: That we look like a quartet of egg-stealing fuckholes if they’ve ever seen one.

I can hear the river stones arguing about who’s been there longer. One claims he’s been here since Chixalub crashed into the Earth and took out the dinosaurs. The others laugh, and call him a n00b.

I can hear the trees whisper riddles back and forth, the mosquitoes making small talk over their dinner, the river chanting a mantra.    

 And worst of all I can hear the Nephilim; I’m picking up their radio transmissions, those shit sucking space lizards are saying, “We’ve got one who knows.”

“Code 837!”

“It’s only a matter of time before the rest start figuring it out.”

“Zeeba, zeeba, rhuxlez snoog!”

“Prepare the juicer.”

Here it is, complete enlightenment. And it’s about as peaceful as a grenade going off at a gang rape.

You hear a lot of stories about the lengths to which people have gone to stay alive. A guy by himself in the woods has a tree fall on his leg and pin him to the ground. He uses a dull pocket knife to saw his foot off. A Uruguayan rugby team is marooned in the Andes and resorts to eating the ass meat of their dead to stay alive. It’s the will to survive.

Here’s what you do if you need to survive pure enlightenment:

Find yourself a good prodding tool, any old thing will do. A nice stick of driftwood seems to work fine.

Now get one of your eyes out.  Hold your stick tightly in your fist and plunge it as hard as you can into the centre of your eyeball. With both hands firmly on the stick, twist and pull in a quick downward motion. This should pop the eye right out of its socket.

You’re probably going to start hearing some screams of horror at this point. And some good intentioned but ignorant souls are going to try and thwart your efforts, so you’ll need to work fast and stay quick on your feet.

Your eyeball should now be hanging out of the socket. Grab it and give it a good pull, stretch out that optic nerve a bit and give yourself some room to work. .

 Okay, now you’re ready to put some of those lights out and get your brain back to its good old information-reducing self, so it can give your world experience a permanent whitewash. Put those once dormant receptors back to sleep, for good.

While stabbing yourself in the brain, you’re going to experience some irrelative sensations. You might feel cold water on your hand, see some colored lights, or smell burnt toast. This is a good thing; it means you’re on the right track. Just keep thrusting that driftwood into your grey matter until the river rocks shut up and the Nephilim radio broadcasts go off the air.

The police, the doctors, our parents; they all had a lot of questions. Not so much for me, more so for the other three. Cory still had a 50-lot of blotter in his pocket when the cops got to the underpass. He faces a maximum penalty of $5000 dollars and two years in a juvenile detention centre.

Dana couldn’t answer many questions, but her parents assured everyone concerned that, no, her hair was not stark white when she left the house that afternoon.

Muggs got shipped off to military school. His parents are strict Catholics. When they arrived at the hospital and found out he was “on the dope,” his father slapped him and his mother called him a “little pagan cocksucker” in front of all the cops and nurses. Still, that didn’t seem to piss him off as much as them confiscating his cell phone.

That’s all I’ve heard about them really. I guess I kind of fucked up their lives for them. Oh well, shit happens. On the bright side, now they have a real life “Orange juice man” story to tell. No friend of a friend bullshit, a real first person account. It’s sure to be a hit at dinner parties.

Life is pretty good these days. The hospital provides three square meals a day, my own room, there’s a television in the game room, we get access to the playing cards, checkers, and Monopoly from 1 pm to 3pm and then again from 6 to 9. There’s four group sessions a daily, so I’m making lots of new friends. It really is the simple things in life that make it worthwhile.

The best part is that the voices of rocks and animals, people’s thoughts blaring in my ears, the space reptiles – they’re all gone. Ignorance is bliss.

The doctors say it’s a miracle that I survived. Sure, I lost the use of my left eye, and I can’t walk without a cane, but that’s a small price to pay for my sanity.

Next week the ward is taking us out to the park to see a fireworks display. I sure am looking forward to it. I love things like that.

Yep, life is pretty sweet here in Sunnyvale Psych. I’m finally at peace.

Still though…

I’m not sleeping.

They can’t make me.

I won’t dare go to sleep…

…lest someone drink me.