Forrest Lancaster

Who really are the gods we know? What names do they really go by, and what are their thoughts and wants? I think I know, but I wish I had never learned. By some transient fleeting chance did I discover these things. When a soldier serving in India, I was enmeshed in the lure of drugs. Opium, anything and everything that would bring visions other than those I would see in my squalid, poverty ridden surroundings.

On one of my many trips into the dark bowels of that city I was stationed at, I met a strange man. The man, if so he could be called, was a dirty low caste, who caught my attention with his proffered hand. In the outstretched palm lay a vial of brown liquid.

"Liao root. The best," he whispered to me in a sibilant hiss, his dirty robe rustling as he secreted the root away.

"Liao root? Never heard of it," I said incredulously.

"Very rare. The priests of Kali use it to induce the Trance of Death. Very potent and enjoyable when used correctly," he mentioned.

It took me little time to ponder. This was new, and an escape! I bought the vial and rushed to a nearby dive, where I usually rented a room in order to stay from prying eyes. Following the instructions closely, I entered a deep trance. Blackness engulfed me. A rushing, as of wind filled my ears. A low droning assaulted my senses. This continued for some time, until the wind stopped, and the strange white dots all around me stopped moving.

"Liao. The best stuff around," tittered the bent, low caste Indian who had materialized in front of me. More rustling. "Who do you think I am?" said he. At a loss for words, I did not reply. "I'll give you two guesses," he continued.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, as this was a dream, I said, "A low caste drug peddler?"

"Really, and why would I be in your dream?" he asked.

"I have no idea, but I really wish you would leave," I responded. More of that furtive rustling.

"Ah, you are becoming impatient, I see," it said, its mouth barely moving. "Well, let us dispense with the formalities then," he rasped. Flakes of skin began to drop off the man, and his robes slowly opened, revealing a maggoty, torn torso, rustlingly alive with carrion beetles. Long worms began to inch their way from behind the flaking areas of skin, and I had to look away.

"I am one from afar, the destruction of the living in my realm. You must abandon these diversions and aid me as a disciple," it told me.

And I did. I quickly became known as the most efficient killer in my battalion, gaining ranks and medals for my skills as the rivers ran red. Today I must be more careful. I never kill when there are witnesses. As old age does its toll, I have had to resort to killing younger and younger children. I even have had to use a weapon. But why do I worry? So few days are left for me and still the lawn has much room for bodies, and I can be content that my son will follow the old ways and kill me as well. I can see the old lust in his eyes too, when he brings home his daily catch, and I feel the familiar rustling in my head, comforting me.


© 1999 Edward P. Berglund
"Death and a Drug Fiend": © 1999 by Forrest Lancaster. All rights reserved.
Graphics © 1999 Erebus Graphic Design. All rights reserved. Email to: James V. Kracht.

Created: December 5, 1999; Updated: August 9, 2004