‘The Targeter,’ a Surreal Novel, Chapter Twelve

As I’m flying up high, I see myself passing by clouds that grey up the otherwise starry night sky. I must be flying sideways, because the ground so far down below me can be seen only through the far right corner of my right eye, and my left eye sees only the stars lighting up the black background. It’s if I were still lying on my side on the ground in front of my apartment.

Am I still?

No, that couldn’t be. My ketamine high is pushing me upwards.

I look to my right, which is down to the ground, and I see five Asians looking up at me: three young men and two young women who are obviously admiring my superhuman abilities as a great spiritual leader. I’ll go down and talk with them.

In front of them now, I see their five heads sideways, the tops of their heads to my left, and their bodies are seen through my right eye. I don’t think I’m reclining on the ground again; I think I’m hovering in the air in this sideways position, at eye-level with them.

I hear the five of them chatting about me. At first, I feel I’m not sure what they’re saying because I can make out only fragments of Chinese expressions.

I hear, “Poor man…sick…no doctors available…this terrible war…will die…” How can I put all of these fragments together to build meaning from them?

Oh, wait: this must be it: “We must come together to help the pitiful, poor man of the world. Everyone is sick, with no doctors available to help. Then there’s this terrible war, and everyone will die if we don’t do anything.”

That’s it! These five people want to help me organize and form an association of activists to transform society and help the world. They would help me end poverty, stop the wars, and heal the sick.

I can hear more chatting among them, more tiny fragments of Chinese phrases…did I just hear one of the two women say, “meditate”?…Yes! She wants our organization to practice meditation as a way to heal the emotional wounds of our alienating society!

Perhaps I can set an example, lead the way, by doing a little meditating myself, then these five can follow my lead. Just before I close my eyes to focus, I see the face of one of the three men. With my eyes closed, I see the silhouette of his head and shoulders…sideways, of course.

That sideways silhouette, with his head to my left and his shoulders to my right, turns clockwise until I see it properly right-side up. When the silhouette changes from a black shadow to a distinctive face again, though, I no longer see the face of that man.

I see the face of a demon, what looks like a Buddhist demon. I suddenly feel itchy all over. Am I scratching myself? I feel my itches appear, then disappear, but I can’t feel my fingers scratching myself.

I know: this is the demon, Itch. He doesn’t just cause literal, physical itches, but also the itches, the temptations, to do wrong: to lust after promiscuous women, to be selfish and fear death or pain rather than sacrifice oneself for the good of others.

I see Itch’s face more clearly now: apart from his horns, fangs, and red skin, he looks a lot like me.

He is flashing images of beautiful naked women dancing before me. What troubles me about this tempting sight is not some prudish attitude in me, but rather that images of idealized feminine beauty are a way I can escape from the real world that I must confront.

The king, my father, used to tempt me with nude, dancing women. He didn’t want me to see the real world, with its real, imperfect, suffering people, and now that I’ve renounced the privileges of the royal family, I shouldn’t be allowing myself to be tempted by fantasies here.

I hear more machine gun fire from not too far away. A few fireballs just exploded high in the air. A few fiery mushroom clouds, or so they look from here, are lighting up from the ground, too. I see a long line of fire, from my far left to my far right (I no longer seem to be floating sideways; I still seem to be right-side up), lighting up the horizon.

Itch is laughing the laugh of a maniacal villain as he looks at me, as if taunting me, challenging me to do something about the violence that is plaguing this island we’re living on.

A funny thing, though: I’m feeling no fear of pain or death, since firstly, I’m still peaking on my ketamine high and am therefore still dissociated from my body; and secondly, I still welcome death, since the hell of war that I see all around me seems to sum up life in general.

And now, Itch is trying to trouble me with guilt feelings over my having left the palace and renounced the family. The demon is flashing images of my wife, Jessie, and our son, Raoul, whom she’s holding in her arms. I hear her weeping, saying, “Sid, my husband, we miss you.”

I also see the king and my stepmother queen, both looking at me and frowning.

“What kind of a prince are you?” she hisses at me.

God, I hate her.

Since I know that this war has been caused to a great extent by my parents’ machinations–that is, their investments in weapons manufacturers and their war profiteering–I know that my abandoning of them is far from my conscience. My wife and son are living in luxury; they have little to complain about. The poor out here have much more to complain about.

I bring my hand down to the ground and touch it…at least, I see myself doing that, though I can’t feel either of my hands or the ground.

Itch is frowning; he and his temptations suddenly vanish.

I open my eyes and see, right-side up, those five people. (Did they sit me up on a chair or something?) They’re walking away from me, chattering away in Chinese. Again, I can make out only fragments of what they’re saying. I hear, “Give up…no hope…filthy man.”

Speaking of filth, the smell of vomit is gone. Someone must have cleaned it all up. I’m trying to make sense of what they just said.

Oh, I know! Those three men and two women, who at first thought I’d make a great spiritual and revolutionary leader, have given up on me because they think that I am not committed to our cause. After all, in opening my eyes, I showed my lack of concentration while meditating. A great spiritual leader would never show such a lack of concentration or discipline.

I must try harder to prove my worthiness to lead our movement. I’ll close my eyes again, keep them closed, and not stray from this place where I’m sitting (under the tree where I saw the meditating wise old man? It looks that way.); nor will I stray from my commitment to achieve spiritual enlightenment. With that enlightenment, I can lead a movement to end the war and help the poor!

I just hope my K-high won’t be too much of an obstacle to my efforts.

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