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Language Anguish


Scotland. February. Outside. Bright. Warm. Three dry grams for A, who’s just got out of his bed. He’s used to two. Four dry grams for me - I’d only planned three, but ate a few too many. Boo. Hoo. Biggest dose for both of us so far.

The beach. We’ve been here before. We know it well. The cloud cover is total, flat, horizon to horizon. What light filters through the clouds has already been leeched of all colour. The scenery looks like it’s been drawn by a *really* pokey PC graphics card - millions of polygons and resolution to die for, but that faint haze all around that shows you the limits of the processing power. And this was before the shrooms kicked in.

Fifteen minutes from ingestion (they tasted a bit bitter, but a swallow of Irn Bru sorted that), there’s ‘something’ going on. This ‘up’, this fast, is new to both of us. We sit on the beach to let it settle in. Visuals kick in fast - ohshit this is going to be a rocketship! There are more people around than we’re used to - it’s a nice Sunday at the nature reserve, we should have expected it. We start to walk.

A little way on, a perfect nuclear family are having a picnic. Yes. In February. In Scotland. On the beach. A and I look at each other. We *know* what the sandwiches will contain. What there’ll be to drink. Anyone from the UK reading this will get these references. Anyone not, won’t. Sorry, don’t have time/inclination to explain.

A reports seeing an image on the background - it seems odd because when he moves his head or eyes away, the image doesn’t move - like it’s actually part of the background, just not usually visible. His description is a little vague, kind of like a pair of owl eyes, or that fractal that looks like a pair of wide, slightly slanted eyes. I don’t see the image, which is unusual, as we frequently see identical or similar effects at the same time and place. A seeing the image is the first of two odd occurrences this day -

A piece of wood has traces of blue, blue paint on it. It’s the only ‘real’ colour we’ve seen since leaving the car - everything else is softened, muted, changed by the quality of the available light. The cloud cover is solid and immobile. It will stay this way all day. Depth cues become useless - I can’t tell if the sand dune I’m standing on is six feet up or twenty-six feet. I jump anyway. The soft slope cushions the six-foot drop. I sink to my ankles in sand.

I laugh. I continue laughing for most of the day. On and off, you understand, not constantly. It rarely takes much to trigger it and it seems to have some quality that makes people not want to stay around to hear it. It tends to clear the path wherever we go. It’s long and low-toned and it wells up from below my diaphragm until the bubble of laugh can no longer be contained. At this point I have the only bad point of the trip. Sometimes such laughter has to be contained down to splutters, gurgles and nasal snorts so as to avoid arousing the suspicions of the general public. This feels wrong and bad, but I have to do it, there are just too many people around who’d be concerned as to why I was looking out to sea and laughing. There are no right answers to that question.

Out at sea, there’s a huge tanker. We can’t tell if it’s moving or not, but it’s obviously running its engines, maybe to keep the electrical systems powered up. The pulse of the engines is muted just enough by distance that all we hear is the low, steady beat. It’s no more distracting than any other natural noise, but it’s fairly rhythmical. It meshes with the natural noises into something non-musical, but highly entertaining. We sit. We listen. I fall over laughing occasionally.

Through the course of the day we see several other people, some alone, some in pairs, and we think: “Did you come out here because you wouldn’t see very many other people? Are you here for the *exact* same reason that we are?”. We have no justification for this idea - they just ‘look right’ to us. We wish for a recognition system, a badge, a symbol, by which the cognoscenti could recognise kindred spirits. Going up to someone and saying “Have you also eaten of the Sacred Fungi?” could cause all sorts of problems if it turns out that we’re wrong. However, anyone seeing me pointing at a duck and falling over laughing shouldn’t really have had much difficulty working out what we were up to.

The visuals don’t fade, they just become secondary to all the other stuff that’s going on. Some time ago, English became our second language. We’re now speaking fluent gibberese. It’s odd, but we don’t have any trouble understanding what the other is meaning, although on occasion the actual sentence structure, vocabulary and syntax is completely scrambled. If I don’t listen to what A is saying, I can get what’s being said, but if I try and follow the actual words, there’s confusion. We start manipulating the symbol set just for fun. I fall over laughing a lot.

A tries to take a picture. Problem: His hands no longer function according to spec. The thumbs still work , so he has the functional equivalent of lobster claws. With great aplomb, he waves his camera vaguely at the scenery and presses the button. He figures that if the picture comes out blurry, fuzzy, juddery and indistinct it will be a more accurate reminder of the events and moods of the day than any neatly-framed, perfectly-focused picture could be. Later on, he realises he may not even have taken the lens-cap off. We discuss the idea that when the totally black print comes back from the developer with one of those little stickers on it saying what you’ve done wrong, we peel the sticker off and throw it away - this was *exactly* the photograph he intended to take. For someone who’s done professional photography, what better reminder of just how far gone he was than proof that he forgot to take off the lens-cap?

We come upon a piece of beach art, and decide to add to it. A selection of small stones and bits of sea-glass has been carefully arranged on a large flat rock. I choose an appropriate piece of stone and place it carefully in an area of free space in the creation. It fits. A has brought some old CDs with him as trip toys, and decides that he will contribute one to the beach art. I take some string from my pocket and try to thread it through a Compu$erve freebie CD. I fail miserably. I also have the lobster claws. It takes several attempts. Despite sitting down cross-legged to do it, I fall over laughing several times.

At one point, the second odd thing occurs. I’ve called A’s attention to a bird/birds flying along in the middle distance. I can’t tell if there’s one or two. A checks, says “Two.” and at that point they simply vanish. It’s most likely that they got so far away that they were no longer distinguishable amongst the haze, but it looks like the universe decided they were so far away that it no longer had to draw them.

Heading back, as dusk swiftly falls, we move over trampoline terrain. The grass is springy and dry, and so thick that we cannot see the ground. What looks solid may not be. We fall over a lot and I end up laughing at this. Eventually, we find our way to a nest of tank traps - huge grey cubes of concrete left here from the war. We stretch out on them in the gathering gloom and stare up at the flat, grey clouds. The same image is in all our vision, main and peripheral. I remove my glasses and it makes no difference to the resolution of what I can see. We remain thus for some time.

The ‘shrooms still have one last trick to play. I’m thirsty, so I open the can of Irn Bru we brought with us. One little sip explodes into froth within my mouth. I squirt a huge jet of orange foam from my mouth - there’s no way I can swallow this! A takes a drink - no problem. I try again, sip, froth, speeeww, fall over laughing. Now, every time I try to take a drink, I get the giggles and can’t do it. This continues most of the way back to the car.

Trip time: four hours fifteen minutes by the car clock. Doses in desiccant-dried PF Tek-grown cubensis on empty stomachs. No nausea for either of us. Both of us seem to have had insights of one kind or another. A reported sharper visual acuity for next five or six days and an increased awareness of complex systems. I became more aware of the symbol sets we use to manipulate, communicate and create a consensus reality. I haven’t been able to go into details of the language breakdown we both experienced - the details haven’t stayed with us and they’d be meaningless out of context anyway. You not only had to be there, you had to be us.

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