Cheap Pills

by Martin James Hunter

 

A claustrophobic dance floor. The ceiling inches from our heads. An epileptic goes down jerking and kicking and everyone keeps dancing over him. The music hits a peak, feet coming down harder, until there is nothing left but clothes and mush and bits of phone.

I am the first to his trainers so I head off to the toilets to try them on. I arrive on time to catch a team of bouncers kick in a cubical door and storm the tiny space like special forces. Two skinny guys in tracksuits caught bending over lines turn and open their mouths to scream but there is no time.

I enter the neighbouring cubical. The trainers are too small for me so I cram them down the toilet and hit the flush. The mucky water rises until only the heels protrude from its surface. I take the bag from the waistband of my boxers and have a peek. Seventy Polish Warriors. Golden pills stamped with a picture of Bolesław the Great. When I picked them up an hour ago I was told they affect everyone differently. I take my second of the night and stick the rest back.

I bump into an acquaintance on the way out. We pretend not to notice another for a moment, then I reluctantly give in and open conversation. As always it is a competition to see who cares about everything the least. The subject rarely strays from drugs, music and girls.

    Alright.
    Alright.
    What you on?
    Two pills. Wee dab of mandy. You?
    Three pills. Had a line of ket earlier but it’s worn off. Couldn’t talk for an hour.
    Cool.
    Yeah.
    This tune’s a cracker.
    Yeah. Classic.
    Yeah.

(We nod our heads for a bit. A girl goes by wearing hardly anything.)

    Check the arse on that.
    She’d get damaged.
    Yeah.
    You want any pills?
    Nah I’m selling as well.
    What you got?
    Red bangers.
    Any good?
    I can’t feel my arms.
    Cool.
    Yeah.

It’s not long before I find my first customer. A fourteen year-old already fleeing and trying to be my best friend. I sell him one and he pays in pound coins which I grudgingly accept. I wander off, pretending not to see his attempt at a handshake.

Near a couple going at it under a table I make my second sale. I notice a group of females watching so I make the transaction obvious. The desire in their eyes. There is nothing more exciting then being in the presence of a bad boy. Immediately afterwards I go over and in turn get all of their phone numbers. One tells me it’s her birthday and asks for a free pill. I oblige, noting that she is now in my debt.

By quarter to two I have sold or taken more than half of them. For me the room has taken on a sepia glow and it feels as though my arms and legs have switched place. Nothing too drastic. I go to pick up my beer from the bar and knock it over with a trainer. Slowly I raise a sole to my face. The smell of muck and piss from the toilets. A crushed cigarette skin. My arms and legs have switched place. I fumble with the can between two soles and take a mouthful.

The pills begin to affect the other clubbers. One grows a tail, a second turns into a tree and is immediately climbed by a girl in a short skirt. Tremendous applause from every male in the building. Another man multiplies and all four of him begin conversing. Two disagree on something and soon punches are being thrown. Bouncers arrive and throw out the wrong ones.

A great venus fly trap at the back of the club swallowing those who dance too close. Myrtle walls closing over quivering figures and releasing foul-smelling digestive juices. Bodies slowly broken down until they are but a solid black remnant. Sucked of nutrients they are then released, clattering to the dancefloor like old wood.

Unable to take any more, I lift my can with one hand and hop to the seating area with the other. The guy who was fucking the girl under the table has turned into a dog and is still going at it, tail wagging. I settle down next to them and pretend to do something on my phone. The ceiling begins to move, bearing down on us. My stomach does a little wet flip.

I ask a girl stinking of cheap perfume how she is. There is a flat slope of skin where her facial features should be so she can only shrug in response. I am hoping the space between her legs is not the same. She tries to take a drink but pours beer over her chin and dress. The dog having finished mating hops up and begins lapping it up. Despite my jealousy I scruff its head. It laps my wrist once then gets back to her neck. I shrug and begin finger popping to the music. All is fair in love and war.

By this point the ceiling has forced those on the dancefloor to squat and continues to descend. Alarmed at this I scramble from the seats and begin crawling towards the exit past beer cans and empty wraps – zig-zagging around old condoms – dust and powdered rubble coming down in ribbons like vapour – sweaty clubbers seeing where this is going also drop onto their fronts – waves of them desperately trying to escape like soldiers under heavy fire – some arrogantly still dancing – cries of agony going unheard as the girl and the dog are crushed against the seating – wood splintering and cans compressed against tables – the DJ carrying on in a ball on the floor with his laptop – a captain going down with this ship – a topless man trying in vain to push the ceiling up with his arms – veins protruding from flesh with sheer determination – wrists snap backwards and he goes down in horror – the exit is too far for him to make it.

I reach the corridor in time and lie there panting. Others scramble past me to safety. Someone runs back in to get their drink. The kid from earlier reaching out to me for help but then the ceiling meets the floor and I am looking at a blocked doorway.

With great difficulty I flick through my money with grubby trainers and see that I have made a fair bit. Ten and twenties in various conditions. A sorry-looking fiver and a handful of pound coins. I begin ascending the stairs towards the ground floor, fantasising over a kebab.

The stairway is full of clubgoers carrying on with a few salvaged cans. I take this opportunity to make a little more money. The music still going despite the DJ perishing some time ago. Defiantly providing tunes beyond death.

The floor becomes stickier as I ascend. White laces draped from one surface to another. Thin sheets of web covered in insects and cigarette filters. I kick through them and continue upwards. A cocoon like a wet ball of wool pulsing as though with breath. Larger ones fused to the floor and walls and ceiling. A limp arm protruding from one in the corner. I recognise the watch around its wrist. One of the girls I charmed earlier. I erase her number from my phone and move on.

At the top of the stairs by the cash desk I find myself firmly stuck in place by the palms of my hands. The exit meters away. Amber street light across the floor and within arm’s reach. My heart sinks as I notice a dark shape emerge from the ceiling with machine-like precision. Too many limbs. Thin, skeletal limbs drawing slowly closer. The reek of smoke and stale beer. It moves into the light. A set of mandibles going as wild as my own jaw. A hundred black eyes, all pupil, unblinking. A torn shirt around its abdomen. I bring a shoe up to my face in an attempt to shield myself. Let out blood-curdling scream and relinquish control of my bowels. It is then upon me.

Bouncers suddenly appear and throw themselves atop the horrid thing. They dish out punches and kicks, the legality of which I question. When it is sufficiently weakened they bundle the creature out the door in a hail of profanity and tell it not to come back. “Fucking dickheads!” it yelps as it collides with the pavement.

It is then decided that I should also be thrown out for not having a smartphone. I land in a heap next to the creature and spend a moment holding back tears. It looks upon me sympathetically, offering a cigarette which I accept. I go through my phonebook as I smoke, looking for someone to fuck. Girl after girl all of which I have briefly met once. No one gets back to me. I head back to the spider’s flat and one thing leads to another. Nine months later I am the father of a few hundred children.

 

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