Guardian of the Gate

This tale is hereby prefaced with a disclaimer. The final revelation presented herein is so mind-blastingly hideous that only the most hardened devotee of the truly horrific should venture further. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I swallowed the first of the three pills I had so carefully prepared and lay back upon the divan. This was to be the most important and also the most risky experiment yet in my ongoing research programme (principle researcher: me; test subject: me) into accessing the remotest states of consciousness and experience.

It had taken many months to perfect the recipes, I reflected, as I waited for the pill to take effect. The timing was crucial: it was necessary for the effects of the first pill to be well underway before I took the second, and likewise for the second to be coming on before I took the third, but the effects of the first must not be so strong as to incapacitate me to the extent that I would be physically unable to administer the second, and similarly, the second must not prevent the administration of the third. The calculations of both dosage and timing had been painstaking, and I had set two alarm clocks ensure nothing went awry.

And so the earliest indications of the first pill were eventually manifesting themselves. Visually, the contents of the drawing room started subtly to shift, then shimmer and finally to swim with vortices, curlicues and arabesques. I must have smiled to myself in the semi-darkness, for it was exactly as I had experienced it before during several dry runs of the first pill only. Its intended effect was essentially to prepare the mind for the pills that were to come after; to soften up the tyrannical hold exerted upon the everyday consciousness by so-called ‘reality’. Then and only then, once the First Gate, as I had come to think of it, had been breached and penetrated, could the next phase begin. This is the Gate that may be passed by effort of will alone, without requiring the permission of a gatekeeper.

Sensing that the effects of the first pill (which I had whimsically coloured green with a little food dye, to indicate its relative innocuity – relative, you understand!) were well underway, I waited patiently for the sounding of the first alarm clock and, right on cue, there it was, ringing insistently beside my head on the small table where I had set it along with the other two pills and a glass of water. Groggily, and with much effort, I reached over to the table, picked up the second pill – this one coloured a violent turmeric-yellow – placed it in my mouth and just about managed to swallow it without knocking the glass over. Then once again I reclined and waited for the first pill’s effects to peak, and those of the second to begin.

Just as I had experienced it on previous occasions, the Guardian of the Second Gate was there to greet me before allowing me any further progress. The crazily swirling vision that my drawing room had become melted away, and there was a moment’s stillness, of utter dark and silence, with only the sensation of being in the presence of some vast and ancient intellect. This soon materialized (if that is not too crude a word) in front of my eyes, or my mind’s eye, rather, as a hooded and cowled figure of vaguely anthropoid outline, although no part of its body could be seen. Behind and all around the Guardian there were great pillars of a material that looked somewhat like marble, and although their geometry was clearly unrelated to the architecture of any phase of any human culture, there was something about them that put me very vaguely in mind of both the classical temple architecture of ancient Egypt and their equivalents in Mesoamerica.

The Guardian said nothing, but merely extended an arm (or some upper-body appendage analogous to an arm) with what might have been a hand held out flat, as if expecting some supplication. I knew, from extensive theoretical research as well as prior experience with lesser metaphysical agencies, that what was demanded here was some demonstration of my worthiness as a scholar and student of the occult sciences. And I knew exactly what was required.

Raising my arms in front of me (for, even in this interstitial realm, I had thankfully retained my human form), I conjured the complex form of the Elder Sign, knowing that I did so with perfect confidence in its efficacy, so many times had I practised it in waking life that it came to me like second nature. The Guardian was perfectly still for a single, heart-stopping moment… and then lowered its arm and turned to one side as if to let me past. I saw then that beyond the Guardian lay the third and ultimate Gate, and that to gain ingress, I would require the pharmacological assistance of my third pill – the one I had dyed blood red.

Again, with perfect timing, the second alarm clock sounded and I mustered the will to briefly open my bodily eyes and reach over to the table. I struggled for a further moment, aware that there was in all likelihood a limit to how long the Guardian would allow me to effect this vital last stage in my mental preparation… time seemed to slow to a standstill, I sensed my body flailing wildly, but still my eyes would not open, and still that maddening ringing persisted! Was all my hard work to be wasted? And, moreover, what would become of my consciousness if I failed to pass the third Gate but could not retrace my steps back to the waking world?

And all the while, that tortuous ringing! I started to become more concerned with ending that infernal noise than with even the terrible metaphysical perils I faced… until… could it be? Aha! The ringing had finally stopped.

My hand – my real, physical, Earthly hand – clasped the familiar cuboidal form of my Nexus 4. I had, more by luck than judgement, moved my finger across the slider button on the screen and deactivated the alarm. With infinite weariness I prepared to wash, dress, consume tea and toast, swear at the traffic and endure another day at the office.

 

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