He sweated. Jumped. Grinning, laughing faces bounced back at him. Green flashed. Smoke rose. White dashed around inside him.

Smacking his lips with another swig of water, he panted and wiped them dry. His hand was now wet. Beautifully wet. He chewed. Lips dripped. He wiped them dry.

The barman laughed.

He returned to the throng, legs numb and aching – but alive. He hadn’t sat for hours. Lights flashed. White. Warm. Sitting was the last thing he wanted.


Where had they gone?

He couldn’t remember their faces, but knew he ought to. He thought again. They had come with him. Jenna. David. Close friends, but they weren’t here now.

He looked again. So many shapes. So many faces. All moving and shifting – constant. It was enough to drive anyone crazy. Blissfully stir crazy. It was all beautiful, all more effortlessly beautiful than life itself. This was it. Life at its pure, brilliant best.

A stranger came close, tugging him. Clammy fingers clawed at his wrists. Her hair, damped with sweat, danced around her.

She looked at him – inside him – as their minds and bodies embraced. Kissing her face and seeing her smile, he felt it. Two hearts beating at the same time.

Mutual, effortless connection.

He thought he knew her name.


Shapes pushed in again, a shadow passed, and she was gone.

Where were they?

He smiled at the faces which no longer smiled back. Dark holes for cheeks. White noses. Black eyes.

More light hit him, sending a chill and a warmth together. He shuddered now. He still felt great. In love – with everything. His teeth gnawed at chapped lips.


Then he was walking. Walking with three figures, then four, then none. Call City Cathedral loomed above him and his arched neck. His wide, wet eyes soaked up the spires and worn red brick, the eerie reflection of a stark moon. A wolf howled. An engine spluttered.

Why was he alone?

David and Jenna had gone without him, and he was coming down. The rush had gone, leaving him with his thoughts again. Walls climbed over love, blocking his sight.

His tears would not roll for hours.

He chewed and chewed. Thought and chewed. Chewed until his lip bled. Thought until his head ached. Chewed some more.

Curling into bed, into real warmth, brought him nothing. But he craved nothing. He wanted nothing, depleted as he was from having it all. He felt his shudders now and knew they were impossible to calm.

He shrugged, as if to tempt off the burden of a thousand fears, and waited, in vain, for sleep.


Illustration by Hermione Ross.

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