stuck a needle in your arm
so take another toke, have a blow for your nose
One more drink, fool, would drown you...
...Now they call you Prince charming,
Can't speak a word when you're full of ludes
Say you'll be alright come tomorrow
But tomorrow might not be here for you!
Oooo oooo that smell, can't you smell that smell?"*
Heading toward the mountains, I wandered off the trail onto the grass; soft, cool, sweet smelling. I heard myself sigh. I knew somewhere back in the dawn of my life, before my current circumstances, I had felt a bliss similar to this, though I could not recall, now, from what source it had come. I was content, satisfied. I wasn't yearning any longer. That was different. A memory floated by in a bubble. It was another time, another place, when and where I'd dwelt in this feeling. I felt oddly light, and ran across the carpet of the plush lawn. In fact, I danced, pulling my flute out and playing a happy tune. Finally, I dropped to the soft green sod, resting there, just reveling in this wonderful freedom. I might have felt... yes, definitely felt invincible. Had I passed all of the tests? Would I rest forever in this paradise?
Rolling over on my side, I saw I was near the first outcropping of rocks which led up to the mountains. Sitting up, I saw what looked oddly like steps, leading down into a ... gully? Rising, I walked to where the steps began and was astonished to see they ended at a doorway. Glittering in the grass just by the staircase, I saw a crystal. I picked it up, and saw another, upon the first step, and then a third crystal and a fourth, as I descended to the entryway. By the time I reached the opening, I had collected a handful of beautiful stones! I saw one more actually, stuck in the doorjamb, keeping the entryway from being completely closed, and possibly sealed. What treasure must be inside, I wondered, and pushed against the barrier. It moved easily, and I stepped inside. Darkness descended. I stood still, letting my eyes adjust. I could make out that I was in a long, narrow corridor. It reminded me of a vision I'd once had, where skeletons hung on either side of the hall, all victims of their own avarice.
Somewhere ahead, I heard whispers and saw a faint glitter reflecting off the light coming in from the door behind me. I walked forward, toward the voices. As I crept closer, I could hear the voice more clearly. There were two voices, though they did not seem to be speaking with each other. It was more like each was muttering, sometimes groaning, and other times whimpering.
What on earth? I thought. I held up a small lantern which I pulled from my pack. What I saw was certainly odd, to say the least. A man and woman, both unclad, neither noticing the other, but both grappling with a treasure chest, overflowing with all manner of jewels and riches. The two were clawing at bits and pieces of the treasure. From where I stood, I could see that the chest was chained to the wall, though the two people were not. But for all intents and purposes they acted as if they were.
I saw a terribly familiar desperation in their eyes; the wanting and needing of the enslaved, held captive by their own greed. The young man stopped momentarily, staring down at the open door, reaching out toward it, his expression showing a forgotten moment from another time. The moment, however, passed too quickly and he was back caressing the jewels, and at times the chain, both with the same passion, as if he could no longer tell the difference between the two.
A chill passed through the tunnel of this underground tomb. I threw the crystals down, scattering them among a collection of the bounty from the chest, and turned and ran back to the door, up the stairs, and fell down to the ground, shivering still.
The contrast between the sense of freedom out here, and the utter bondage inside left me shaking. It had been a close call. I wasn't as far removed from my old ways, wants, and subjugation as I'd foolishly thought. And I realized that all of my old tapes were not only just under the surface, but readily available to play me, much the same way the snake charmer plays the snake.
*Song for the devil: That Smell by Lynyrd Skynyrd