Ch1: 'The Beginning Of The End'
It was a mysterious chill cloaked under a starry night; stars about a million, some shooting into the oblivion, others waiting to die. The sky was growing, more like expanding and bursting with a glittery magnificence, as a few clouds, greying against the black of the night, floated westwards. And as they did, they made shapes that we sat guessing: an elf with a hat, an elf with a hat sitting on a hat. “Ok, don’t exaggerate; it’s just a hat.”
As the clouds crawled to disappear behind the mountains, the sky began playing a coy invasion on my senses. For that matter, the particles in the torch beam that Omar occasionally flashed did the same. The vivid elements of the valley time and again replaced the ambiguous attention I had on my breathing, which would soon be replaced by the patterns my mind was making-- patterns like the ones we see after having rubbed our eyes a little too hard.
The river in its most ferocity flowed right in front of us, and the deep, dense, dark forest extended into the night. The silhouette of the bridge that joined the two mountains, and the one that the Parvati flowed under, smirked at us. This—the beauty of the Himalayas draped in the black of the night— somehow had us intoxicated, or, maybe, it was the LSD.
Aryan had insisted on sitting by the river, was sort of adamant on it for the party that we were at; its loud music, neon lights and the crowd gave him a ‘bad trip’. So, with no intention of leaving him alone and with none of us letting the crowd feed his paranoia, we decided to head down to the river.
Here, by the river, he sat staring at the forest occasionally pointing his flashlight towards the woods. “What is it, bro? Do you see something?” asked. “Eyes, green eyes; they appear and disappear,” he replied still staring in the direction.
“Where?” I saw them too. Two big red ones I saw; two big red dots moving down the woods, turning and stopping; then moving down the trail all the same. Whatever it was, it was nearing; the eyes growing and seemingly fuming like burning coal. I tried getting up, but I felt like I was stuck in a dream that you can’t get out of. They grew bigger as they neared only to stop by the last trees that drooped over the water. My heart beat loud in my head. As I finally managed to get up, my legs wobbly, I saw the black shadow of the red eyed animal descend onto the water.
Omar caught a hold of my arm and made me sit back on the rock. “What do you see?” he asked. “A beast...Let’s go, he’s moving towards us,” I hurried up getting his hand off me. “It’s not safe here, let’s go!”
“Show me where,” he said, and I pointed. He flashed his light in that direction. “There’s nothing there!” and as he said so, the beast disappeared for me; more like dissolved into the air and vanished. Omar shook my arm, “Snap out of it”. Taking the torchlight from him, I flashed it where I had seen the animal-- all over the water and around the three of us. A little comforted, I sat down and, once again, turning to ensure that he wasn’t behind me, I let Omar’s hand find mine. His fingers, marking a pattern on my wrist, made me feel like he was almost touching the surface of my soul. And as he did, it felt as if he was making tiny adjustments like one would unscrew a wrongly put nut and fix it where it was needed the most.
“It wasn’t such a good idea to try acid, now was it,” Omar asked holding me by my elbow. “Yes, not so much,” I said pointing towards Aryan. “I am worried about him”.
“He is much calmer now, I feel. Don’t worry,” he said putting an arm around me. Aryan opened his eyes and turned to look at us only to get startled and fall backwards. I held him by the arm, “Ah fuck. You guys scared me. I was in such a beautiful place.” He said, resting himself back on the rock. “Go back there then,” I said. He smiled and lit a joint, the smoke from which made a perfect swirl up towards the stars before touching and igniting them to burst; and as one burst for me, the millions followed. It seemed as if the sky showered these burning bodies onto me and my reflexes got me rubbing my arms.
Omar tapped me on the shoulder, “I got to pee.”
“Yes, I think me too.” I began getting up.
“Is that a secret code to ‘let’s go, make out’?” teased Aryan as Omar’s fingers found mine and locked in a hold.
As we walked further towards the bridge, I said, “Considering what Aryan just suggested, I’d actually like to make out with you and see how it feels while tripping.” Omar smiled and held me against a big coniferous by the bridge. His hand found the back of my nape and moved up towards my hair, sending chills down to the small of my back. With his eyes seeking something in mine and a smirk laden mouth, he kissed me, and the kiss felt like a Tame Impala video, with paints dripping and smudging, and skies and blood bursting around the two of us. It felt like a wave and a whirlpool only until Aryan’s scream broke the spell “Bhola! What are you doing here?”
Bhola, our village host’s 5-year-old son; what could he be possibly doing there at that hour? We got out of under the bridge to see what was happening. “Stay there. We’ll come get you,” Aryan continued. On his toes towards the bridge, Aryan froze. His face turned pale. “God...guys, guys get to the bridge! Get to the bridge, he’s falling.” He screamed with his arms shaking almost like he was having a fit. We began hurrying up the bridge, but the ground began warping for me. The rocks dissolved to become water and the water turned chilly. My feet froze, and I sunk down. Omar went ahead.
In no time, we heard a thump and a splash.
Seconds later, as if waking up from a frozen moment, Aryan jumped into the water after him.