Signal Horizon

See Beyond

{Short Fiction} Journal of Black Ivy 1:2 High Spirit by Frank Oreto

High Spirit by Frank Oreto
Art by Grave Roberts

“Don’t do it, Allen! Don’t you do this!” Henry shouted.  Memories exploded like fireworks filling the dark void of Henry’s consciousness. Memories of his last moments alive. Trapped in the machine. Cold tearing at his body like a hungry animal. Blood forming jagged crystals as quickly as it oozed from his wounds.

Henry coughed hard. I’m alive.  His mind reeled with joy at the thought. I’m not in the machine, and I’m alive! He took a deep breath of blessedly warm air, coughed again, and opened his eyes. Across the room from him, a woman and two men sat on a threadbare couch.

Framed photos of strangers decorated the walls. Henry felt the contours of an overstuffed loveseat beneath him. On a coffee table lay a vape pen along with a bag full of cartridges labeled “Good Vibes.” He reached for the pen then stopped and stared at his hands. The knuckles were large and hairy, a wedding ring glinting on one thick finger.

The hands weren’t his. This body wasn’t his. 
“Aww shit.” His small audience gazed at him their eyes large.“I think I understand,” Henry said, his voice sounding strange to his own ears. “Okay, you have to listen. I need to tell you what happened, then you have to call the police, understand?” Three heads pivoted in the affirmative.“My name’s Henry Duchamp. The Good Vibes Guy.” Henry held up the Ziploc bag, displaying the logo he had designed himself. “You know, Good Vibes Herb and Accessories?” The woman nodded. The other two men just gaped.

Except, I guess Allen’s probably the Good Vibes Guy now.”Henry rubbed a stranger’s hand over his eyes. “Which is crazy. The whole place was my idea. The soda jerk theme, the pot blends named after old soft drinks like Lime Rickey and Egg Cream. Allen doesn’t even smoke. He only handles the books.”

Henry shook his head. “Why am I talking about egg creams?” Time seemed to stretch out in a chain of tiny isolated micro-seconds. “Oh god, I’m high. Of course, I’m freaking high.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, focusing his thoughts, then took a deep breath and started over.  

 “Okay, you need to tell the police about the machine. That’s the important part.” Was it though? Henry’s thoughts kept going out of order. Just tell it all, or you’ll never get the story out there. “Yeah, the machine. You see, that’s how Allen killed me. The machine was my baby. Just beautiful. I rigged up a liquid nitrogen freeze-dry system. The flash freezing preserved all that beautiful bud. Then I used sonic vibrations to break up the flower into tiny flakes. I could literally process weed using my favorite tunes. God I was so proud. We could make 100 cartridges every four hours. I got the whole idea from this doctor from Finland I saw on YouTube. He used something similar for eco-friendly funerals.”
One of the men on the couch laughed.

Art by Grave Roberts

 “It’s not funny. We were getting rich, and my machine would take us to the next level. So I didn’t think twice about Allen’s questions. How low the temperature went? How many kilos of product could the machine process at once? Hell, maybe it is kind of funny. God, I was an idiot.

“But I didn’t know about the letters from the IRS or the audit they were threatening us with. Not until we were in the basement, prepping for the machine’s first official production run. Bastard waited until I was checking the liquid nitrogen hook up and my back was turned.
‘Hey man, the IRS is planning to audit us,’ he says.
“He didn’t sound worried. So I just asked if everything was accounted for. Then bam! The room goes bye-bye, and I wake up stuffed in my own machine on a shelf full of premium bud.

“Allen stood outside, telling me about all the cash he’d embezzled from the company, and how once I disappeared, the IRS would blame the missing money on me. Then he starts crying, if you can believe it. Moaning about how this was all my fault. How he’d been ready to confess, but then I had to go and tell him about my machine and how the Fin Doctor used the same tech to break down bodies for hippy funerals.

The hoses started up then, and I started screaming. But I could still hear the asshole saying how I’d handed him the perfect crime like some B-movie villain.

“The joke’s on him though, right? He must have mixed my remains right into the pot cartridges. I’m freaking haunting your stash. I always said marijuana was spiritual.” Henry coughed again. The face of the woman on the couch went hazy then focused. A pressure built in Henry’shead pushing his awareness out into a black nothingness.

“What did I tell you?” a voice asked. A voice, that wasn’t Henry’s, though it came from the same mouth

“No,” Henry grunted. “I’m not done.” With the last of his fading will, he tried to lift the vape pen, but the hand wouldn’t obey. “Call the police Tell them Henry Duchamp was murdered.”

Laughter poured from a mouth Henry no longer controlled. “Damn,” said the thin man in the loveseat. He loaded another cartridge into the vape pen with practiced ease. “I told you Henry’s Special Blend was some trippy shit.”A chorus of agreement came from the couch.
“Who wants the next hit?”The woman in the stocking cap picked up the vaping pen and took a long drag. “Don’t do it, Allen,” she screamed. “Don’t you do this.”