Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is an extract from the first chapter of my novel Eternity, and recounts the protagonists first experience with the powerful psychedelic drug.
I’m sitting around a faded brown wooden table with my friends smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. The boys are joking around but my palms are damp and I can feel the blood pumping in my belly. Harry’s place is out in the eastern hills of Perth, and we’re encircled by flowering red and yellow acacia shrubs swarming with bees, and towering eucalyptus trees housing magpies and crows and willy-wagtails.
Harry signals that it’s time, and us four young men leave empty beer bottles at the wooden table and walk a winding path down deep into the bush. We walk silently, past the back patio, through overreaching shrub and grape vines and past shaded chicken-coops, and under citrus trees, the soil dark brown and rich beneath our feet. Out through a rusted old gate, we step into a clearing. A family of kangaroos hops away, settling again on a patch of grass, just beyond spear-shot. We make camp on fold-out chairs by a winding creek that cuts a border between Harry’s property and the next.
We sit in silence.
I close my eyes and listen to the call of the birds, and the wind rustling the leaves of the eucalyptus trees. It’s my first time. My hands are wet and trembling.
Harry loads his metal pipe and presents it to his friend Shaun. I watch on quietly as Shaun draws from the pipe, holds the smoke in his lungs, exhales, and then sits wide-eyed and nodding. His head sinks down into his hands.
Harry reloads the metal pipe and presents it to my friend Stan, sitting to my right. I close my eyes. Blood pounds in my stomach. I open my eyes, and there is Harry, holding his metal pipe, and presenting it to me as though it carries the holy sacrament.
A sharp tingling races across my skin as I suck in the smoke. I hold as long as I can, then exhale, and take another draw. My skin crawls. Something tugs at the back of my neck. My heart-rate soars and the air is taken from me. The sounds of the forest vanish and all I hear is the melodic pumping of blood in my ear drums. Eyes wide, I signal to Harry that I have taken enough, and he draws away the pipe. I hold as long as I can and then exhale.
To my great surprise, the trees and shrubs around me have morphed from grey and green to exploding purple and yellow and blue, and their branches are weaving wildly like seaweed in a storm. The vegetation becomes some magical plant entity with columns of light bursting out from its core. I am on the precipice between this world and the next. I am at the gateway. And I don’t think I can hold on. I might just get blasted into that goddamn plant entity!
But then the drug pulls back, and the vibrancy around me softens. The plants return to their regular forms, though crisper. The peak has come and gone.
Ten minutes later, the sensations have faded.
I didn’t take enough for a breakthrough.
I’m sat on my own out the back of Stan’s house having a quiet beer. Pine trees rise up from the neighbour’s backyard and in the background, a spattering of stars sparkle across the night sky. The moon hangs large and low in the darkness. In the foreground, great weeds grow tall between the cracks in the cream concrete tiles. Around the perimeter of the yard, busted fairy lights lie limp and neglected in the sand. On a window sill, two green bottles of beer sit overflowing with cigarette butts. It’s been three weeks since the incident at Harry’s place. The memory throbs like a splinter in my mind.
I finish my beer and toss it into the bin by the barbecue. The glass clatters as it settles against the other bottles. I rise from my busted old office chair and walk through the backdoor to get another beer. Inside, the house is dimly lit. Most of the lightbulbs are dead because Stan is too goddamn lazy to replace them. Strange shadows hang across the mandarin-cream walls and the framed posters of Conan the Barbarian, Batman, and Dark Side of the Moon. I open the fridge and reach for a beer when my eyes lock on to the little Tupperware box full of DMT that I accepted from Harry the morning after my first experience.
I take the Tupperware box out of the fridge and leave it on the kitchen table to come to room temperature. I sit down on the floor and take some deep breaths, trying to come to grips with what I have just decided to do.
After showering in the spare bathroom, I change into some loose-fitting clothes, then set up the backyard. I drag a small white coffee table from the living-room outside, so I can rest Stan’s bong on it. I know that once the drug takes hold I will be incapacitated, and I don’t want to drop it onto the floor. In the dim light of the kitchen I load up the cone piece with a pinch of Stan’s weed. I tap a knife’s tip of DMT onto the weed, then I sandwich the DMT with a little more of Stan’s weed.
I can see the blood beating in my belly now.
There is still time to pull out.
I walk outside into the darkness clutching the bong and take the seat at my little coffee table. I place the bong down securely and take three deep breaths.
Am I really gonna do this?
I light the dope and suck in softly. I hold the smoke in my lungs. The taste is metallic and harsh. My hands tingle. It takes immediate effect. Something strange tugs at the back of my neck. My hairs prickle. I hold the smoke as long as I can, then exhale a cloud of smoke. Heart rate intensifying. No turning back. I light the dope again, inhale softly and hold as long as I can.
Hold. Exhale. It is so strong. The little white table that supports the bong is now golden and bejewelled and spinning. My head is thick and heavy.
What fresh hell is this?
The backyard swirls into vibrant technicolour. The walls are melting and behind them is the raw flesh of the world. The plants have become seaweed monsters excreting columns of magnificent light. Existence is rapidly transforming into nonsense.
This is too strong!
I’ve had enough. Maybe too much.
I hear Terence McKenna. Take the Third Hit, he cries.
Take the Third Hit!
Somehow, I locate my hand in space-time and level it over the cone piece for a third time. I breathe deeply.
The bong itself is now pulsing and golden and bejewelled!
Grab the fucking Royal Goblet, son!
Light. Softly inhale. Hold. Hold. Exhale...
Breathe. Fucking breathe! Hold on!
An alien space of pulsing colour and light, mesmerising and horrifying. A strange somersaulting sound splits the silence.
Oh no. This is too much.
It’s a language.
They are speaking to me!
Thhhraahhhh. Nnnn. Thromping. Thandros. Thrahhghning. Thranngg!
I know not what I am.
Yet I know that I’ve been here before…
It's too powerful!
This is death by astonishment. I’ve never been so fucking astonished!
I cannot take it! The Horror!
The DMT Space collapses, and I’m in the backyard once more. I can breathe. I’m not sure whether to laugh, or curl into a ball and sob. I sit back and let my mouth hang open. The walls are still pulsing, but the raw flesh of the world is concealed behind them. My skin is a sparkling cartoon, but I know that it’s mine. I’ve never been so relieved to be alive. In a shadow by the barbecue, a dark entity says, ‘It was a pleasure to meet you Nicholas. We'll be seeing you again soon.’