He shook his head, brought himself back into present. To be honest, it was all a bit overwhelming for him – he’d been out here, to the Badlands before, but this was the first time he’d been led deep into the labyrinthine tunnels that he hadn’t known existed until today.
Not that he was surprised, there were rumours of an even more top secret facility than the ones he’d been privy too – nor was he surprised to find himself in a large hangar like structure, filled with craft and crew.
What surprised him was the craft themselves. He couldn’t quite bring himself to call them ‘planes’, they weren’t, they didn’t quite fit the category…
No, if he had to classify them, his first thought was is ‘UFO’, but that couldn’t be.
They were mostly saucer shaped – maybe a little like a flattened hamburger, they seemed both symmetrical and asymmetrical at the same time. He wanted to rub his eyes, but that would be unprofessional.
He looked them over.
We’d call them cliché now, I guess, but then…
Flying saucers. He was not a man easily surprised, but here he was: surprised.
He walked down the row, each one a slightly different colour that was difficult to make out, and each one, in military stencilling, a single word: MJ, Benzedrine, LDS, Coke, Opium, Heroin, Caffeine and lastly, more beat up perhaps? Mescaline.
Again, rumours, Foo Fighters of World War II. He had buddies who swore they saw something – and he’d believed them – why wouldn’t he? No one said they were aliens, they were always assumed to be secret weapons of the Luftwaffe. The Brass had taken it seriously. They had that dossier, and the task force…
Yes Colonel, they are alien, he was told. They weren’t quite sure exactly what they were, something alive in there? A partially sentient machine? They were active, but the pilots, and there were pilots, were gone. The biggest issue, they could fly, kind of, but there seemed to be some sort of telepathic link between pilot and craft – and the human brain wasn’t quite up to scratch.
So they’d tried, let’s say; ‘mind altering’ substances, with some success. Each of the craft responded better to different ones , hence the labels, but now they needed a pilot.
Your record, his record, suggested he would be an ideal candidate.
Colonel Anderson: decorated WWII pilot, squadron leader, test pilot, ready to take drugs for the government and pilot alien spacecraft.
He was ready.
They handed him a small button shaped object. He had wires everywhere. White coats everywhere. Bright lights. Beeping machines . He took a deep breath. Placed it in his mouth.
A little bit bitter.
He climbed the ladder to the top, and the craft gull winged open.
/all aboard it said.
There are colours that aren’t really real, that you can’t really see, but, you can feel, you know they are there – they apply pressure, they make their presence known… they…
He could sense them… And more, just waiting to reveal themselves, waiting …
It, /mescaline, it hummed underneath him, around him, it settled.
The dosage grew larger, the sessions grew longer. The white coats grew increasingly excited. But for him, me, it all just intensified.
It felt like flying, not like piloting flying, but flying flying, like the sun at your back, wind beneath your wings flying, all accompanied by a cascade of colours and light, a thrill you could taste…
How can you describe what can’t be described?
Freedom? Beyond? Like something more?
Technically, the craft was superb, cavorting, dancing, frolicking. Responsive, reactive, smooth…
We… We had a link, Mescaline and I. Not the same with the others, no, but here was a link, a bond.
We, we knew, we shared, we were…
I told it about my family, my wife, my daughter, my friends, my hopes, my dreams, my fears, and we flew, so very high, and so very fast – all while we were staying still.
As always, we flew too close to the sun. Our wings melted.
The link had been strong, uncontrolled, unmonitored, unchecked.
The lab coats said that their best guess is that they were syphoning information, about me, about humanity.
I don’t know.
One morning, I walked in, popped the thin wafer into my mouth, washed it down, the hangar door was open. I could see the heat already rising – it would be a golden aubergine colour, shot with the taste of silver.
The craft took off as I walked past them, which was unusual. I put a hand down, but it didn’t open…
/I’m sorry said Mescaline.
It hovered, turned slowly, then disappeared into the desert like a mirage fading… All heat haze and vapour trails.
They took me off the project, no need for me anymore. I retired into obscurity. Wasting away.
“Colonel Anderson?” Still patient, but a little more insistent.
“Yes, what is it?”
“You have a friend here to see you.”
“Sir, the care facility forbids the use of illicit drugs. We’ve discussed this, that isn’t the drug that you need.”
But it is, you don’t understand… He grabbed the orderly’s arm.
“They’re coming back.”
“So you’ve told me Colonel, so you’ve told me.”