“Hey, mate,” a familiar voice said from my left.
I looked over to see the garden gnome sitting on the arm of the couch. A sigh escaped me after I blinked my eyes a few times.
“Great,” I muttered. “You again.”
“Exactly!” the gnome said without moving its lips. “Me again.”
“Go away,” I mumbled. “You’re not real.”
“Are you sure about that?” the gnome asked slyly.
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
I reached out to the gnome, sure my hand would pass right through it since it was nothing more than a figment of my imagination—a figment that had followed me around for the last three days after a binge on what I had thought was absinthe at a local watering hole in San Elira. I still didn’t know what I had consumed, but I knew it wasn’t absinthe even if it was the same electric-green color. My fingers bumped up against the solid ceramic gnome, sending it crashing to the floor.
“Owwww!” the gnome cried, its voice muffled. “What the hell, Mike?”
I peered over the arm of the couch to see the gnome face-down on the wooden floor. I blinked a few times. This isn’t real, I reminded myself. None of this is real.
“I’ll ask again,” the gnome said, still face-down on the floor. “Are you sure?”
“Fuckin’ great,” I said, reaching down to pick the gnome up. “Now you can hear my thoughts as well. What the hell was that shit?” I asked myself, remembering the silky, smooth, slightly sweet taste of the liquid I’d gotten smashed on.
“It’s what the locals call ‘Silandra,’” the gnome answered after I put him on the roughly hewn coffee table in front of me. “I heard it was a beverage the natives concocted a thousand years ago.”
“That’s what you heard, huh?” I asked, deciding to go along with the hallucination.
I checked my surroundings beyond the couch. I was in a small bungalow or shack somewhere near the beach. The low roar of ocean waves breaking on the sandbars mixed with the slight rustling of tropical vegetation outside the shack.
“And what exactly is this ‘Silandra’?” I asked after turning my attention back to the gnome.
“It lets you talk to the gods,” the gnome said solemly. Continue reading →