Druids Or… by Clark Humphrey

Druids Or…
by Clark Humphrey
I’ve lived in the Northwest long enough to know that even when the light of the sun is almost all obscured and covered, it still mostly comes through. Yeah, it was cool to look through the special glasses and see only a sliver of the sun behind an invisible moon. But that loses its novelty, even if it’s real and it’s rare.
So I was bored.
I’ve long since stopped feeling ashamed for being bored.
Besides, it helps me to discover things around me I’d otherwise miss.
Like when I went from looking at the eclipse to taking my viewer off, giving it to some kid, and looking around at the other sun gazers.
That’s when I saw the upper-floor condo balcony. The one with eight or nine people, men and women, all in those horrible “business casual” suits (I mean, really: choose one or the other, c’mon on!), dancing.
I used my cell phone camera at full zoom mode to get a better look at them. They were still a far ways off, and from my angle down below I couldn’t tell for sure what kind of dance they were doing, at least at first.
It didn’t look like any ballroom or barn-dance routine. But it was more formal, and more interactive, than your rock or hiphop routines.
I decided, even though I hate to talk up strangers, that I had to learn a little more about this.
I deduced which floor they were on. I got to the building. There was no doorman on duty. When I got off the elevator, I could hear music of some strange kind from the end of the hallway. A door there was wide open. Nobody noticed when I walked in to a very normal looking condo unit.
All the accoutrements of mass-produced “luxury” were there—the faux marble countertop on the “kitchen island” unit, in front of the big fridge with stainless steel doors. The faux-gold doorknobs. The blandly “tasteful” framed art prints along the walls.
Whoever lived here either didn’t have a burning desire to customize the unit, or happened to like its generic default appearance.
Nobody was inside here. They were all out on the balcony. That door was also wide open.
The music turned out to come from one young woman on a set of bongos and one young man at a small sampling keyboard. They seemed to be ad libbing some abstract ambeint noodling.
The dancers I’d seen turned out to be seven in number; four women and three men. Their motions toward and away from one another seemed more like a really slow square dance than any druid ritual; not that I’ve seen any real druid rituals.
Someone finally spotted me. It was the apparent leader of whatever this was. She stood to one side of the dancers. She was late middle-age, with greying blonde hair, with a burnt orange long dress on. Her broad smile was almost terrifying. What have I gotten myself into? And could I explain my way out of it?
Instead of asking what the hell I was doing there, she motioned for me to approach her. Which I did. She took me by the hand.
While the dancers and the musicians continued, she spoke in a lilting sing-song intone. She said their affirmations had come to pass. Their group now had an eleventh member. It’s a prime number. And it converts in numerology to two, the yin and the yang, the one and the zero, the day and the night, combined as they are at this precious hour.
A regular baby-boomer spiritualist mixtape of ideas, I thought.
That was one of the last conscious thoughts I had for a while.
When I regained my mind two hours later (according to my phone), I found myself on a bed, in the condo unit or a place just like it. I was still fully dressed; everything was still in my pockets. As far as I could tell, I had no cuts, bruises, or incisions.
The music’s stopped. I hear nothing but the ambience and traffic noises from outside.
What could I remember? Anything at all? Anything?
Did I consume any drugs? Anything that might have secretly contained drugs (even a simple glass of water)?
The room is dark. I fumble around for a light switch. I finally find a desk lamp next to the bed.
I see a small window on the wall in front of me, with a heavy curtain over it. The bedding is more nondescript upscale design. No way to tell whether a man or woman or a couple, or anyone, regularly sleeps in here.
I try to sit up in bed. My upper body hurts, in places I didn’t know could hurt.
Yet I also feel fully rested, as if I had slept longer than I—how long had I slept?
And there’s a sort of peaceful feeling in my head. I wasn’t bored. I was accepting the quiet, the stillness in my mind.
In just a couple of minutes, the body aches fade away.
I no longer want to investigate anything. Do anything. Think anything.
I feel a sense of peace overtaking every aspect of my being.
No, not quite peace.
More like an emotional numbness.
I glance at the room’s floor.
I can make out some crumbled up papers. My eyes are too blurry to see if there are any words on them.
And there are three small wads of plastic. My eyes eventually focus enough to identify them as used condoms. I don’t feel or see any evidence that my own body had been involved in anything of that kind.
I fall asleep again.
When I awaken, I find I’m physically able to stand up and leave the now empty condo.
The lobby has a doorman on duty now. He says nobody lives in that unit.
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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on October 13, 2017, in Fiction, Seattle, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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