At the age of 13 or 14, I had become interested in psychopharmacology, although I didn’t know it’s name then. I wondered who had originally tried new foods, or new substances, and discovered their psychoactive or edible properties? Some of my school friends, including my closest friend, Gary, had tried sniffing glue, with varying results. They had used Evo-stik, a tried and trusted staple of punk glue sniffers everywhere.
I didn’t have access to any Evo-Stik, so I went to a local model shop and bought what the old gent who ran it recommended. It was called UHU Fleximend. It came with warnings to use it in a well ventilated space, and a very high Xylene content. I snipped a hole in the tube and deployed the contents into a plastic carrier bag. At this time, I often skipped school, leaving the house early in the morning, and returning. When everyone else had left for the day. This was one such day.
I sat in my father’s armchair, breathing slowly and deliberately into the bag. Quickly I noticed a buzz. Not a high, but a buzz, a physical sound, as if I could hear the movement of machinery behind the walls, as though reality was a stage set, atoms cranked into place by unseen stagehands. This buzzing became an echo, and began to leak synesthetically into my sense of vision. The green and white wallpaper, with its diagonal flower print, leaked from the walls into the room, collapsed behind the walls, perspective shifting as I moved my head.
I continued to breath from my new third lung. Only occasionally pausing to draw in fresh air, drool and glue staining my lips and chin. I pushed on.
Eventually the room itself fell away. I was floating, no flying, through a series of switches, binary choices we all pass through every moment of our lives. Finally I exit the maze of possibility. Outside it now, I see a shape, a rectangular column, twisted along its length. Inside this column is a path of light, the journey I have taken so far, based on my decisions. There are many paths ahead, but not infinite. I had a finite starting point, and I have finite choices, there are a finite number of paths for me to travel, and a finite number of end points for this existence. The shape tells me this. It has a name: Q. Years later, I will see the character Q on Star Trek the Next Generation and I will be freaked out for days, convinced that I’m still tripping; that someone can read my thoughts; or even worse, that I may have stumbled upon some profound ultimate truth about reality.
Slowly, I return to the living room. I am lying on the floor. Our TV, a large black and white cathode ray tube set, is on my face. Michael Fish presents the weather. I get up and put the tv back. I can’t see where the bag of glue has gone. My brother comes in. He’s been home for a while, assuming that I was conducting some kind of crazy experiment.
I guess he was right.