Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Truger loathed recreational narcotics; he could never understand the point. Hallucinogens, depressants, all of them ran completely counter to his personality.

This made his current situation unbearable.

He remembered the moments before the crash, the low orbit sky-fight, the enemy fighters he’d engaged and the victory that he’d been sure of, one snatched away in a hail of flak as they’d strayed too close to the anti-aircraft emplacements. His last memory was of the gaping hole in his cockpit, and the cauterized stumps of his freshly truncated arms and leg.

He remembered waking here.

The first hallucination had been the spiders. He hadn’t seen them as his eyes were bandaged, but he felt them navigate across his body, clicking and chattering, poking and prodding. He’d been trained to overcome foreign chemicals in his system, and he tried as best he could. The bandages were peeled back from his eyes, tiny metal appendages pulling away the mesh to let the light in. Somewhere far away, someone began screaming. His drug-enhanced imagination fed him back his own face reflected in a hundred shining facets. Seconds stretched into minutes before a sharp pain in his shoulder redirected his attention, and, as the light dimmed, he was aware that the screaming had stopped.

When next he awoke, the room had changed. The bugs were gone, and everything was bathed in a green white glow, it’s edges blurred and indistinct. Truger tried to sit upright, but his torso was too heavy. He concentrated instead on his drug-heavy hands, and as he struggled with them, the memory of cauterized limb fragments flashed back, vivid and real. The panicked surge of adrenaline helped him pull them into his line of sight but instead of familiar or even burnt flesh he found clear, crystalline limbs of stunning beauty. He marveled as the light refracted through their internal structures, until their weight finally overcame his strength.

He had to wake up. This hallucinogenic daydream was too much.

Somewhere, someone was screaming again.

Truger couldn’t remember falling asleep, or being awoken again. The light had changed, and a flurry of activity in his peripheral vision begged for his attention. His head was too leaden to move, so he strained his eyes to the left and wished he hadn’t. A doctor, resplendent in his gown, moved in and out of his field of view conversing with a nurse. Their heads both stretched impossibly in the dim light, elongated and flailing whip-like at the air. The doctor’s arms tapered off into slender, excessively jointed digits which undulated as he spoke. Their words were no more than melodic chirps to Truger’s intoxicated mind. That people took these chemicals into their system willingly and for entertainment was beyond his comprehension. The images they superimposed on his reality terrified him, and he squeezed his eyes shut as though willing the distorted shapes to disappear.

He felt something in his personal space, and opened his eyes to the faces of the medical staff, pressed close and staring, eyes now faceted and double lidded, mouths a quivering mass of vertical fleshy strips.

“Stop giving me drugs,” he screamed into their startled faces, the force of his words driving them back. “I can suffer the pain, but these drugs, you’re driving me out of my mind.” The effort taxed him to near unconsciousness. As his awareness slipped away into blackness, he whispered simply “no drugs”, a series of sound-waves the doctors chirped and clicked about for some time, trying to decipher what these noises could possibly mean.

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