"Jesus." Alison said. "Look at them."
"Isn't it a Them? A They?"
"Us, I think." I said.
We paused to mull that over. Considering how many of them there were, it nevertheless seemed improbable that they were not one entity. Since they were all moving together, weaving in and out. But also, and quite naturally, they were part of us.
"What would you say that is?"
"The one with the horns?"
"Horns? Ears? The chubby one."
"Um. A demon of some kind."
The creature wove over and under, over and under the others, until it too disappeared into the ceiling.
It had been difficult to swallow the excrement-flavored mushrooms. They were dried, fleshlike brown morsels, like bits fallen off a mummy. We kept gagging.
"Oh, blaugh. Ergh. Jesus." Alison spat her mouthful into one of the filmy dining hall glasses that lined the windowsill. "Maybe if we mixed them with Tang."
We rooted through her bookcase, moving spilled ashtrays and about a hundred records. Finally unearthing a jar of powdered orange drink, gummy with residue and hard to open.
"The breakfast of astronauts!"
We giggled, suddenly giddy.
Chipping Tang out of the jar was a challenge, since it had gotten damp at some point and solidified into a crystalline crust. Eventually we thought to add boiling water, and then the mushrooms, and spooned equal amounts into two teacups we found in the kitchen.
"Just hold your nose and swallow as quick as you can!"
A bit more gagging, but not insurmountable, and then we waited. Alison smoking and me reading Marvell for my next paper. Our world then was filled with nothing but time.
"How long have *those* been there?"
"I think they're always here, except now we're seeing them for the first time."
It was hard to know how many hours had passed, if any at all. Darkness had always been outside the windows and the soft light had always shone up upon the wall, creating in its yellow a net of coruscating creatures. Each warp and weft was a line of tiny beings, each different from the other and moving smoothly over and under its fellows until it eventually disappeared at the top and was replaced by a new entity weaving up from below.
That they were made of light seemed exotic yet normal, like watching a platypus through glass in a zoo. There were mammals of all kinds, dragons, cephalopods, demons, worms, butterflies, tiny humans, and all sorts of unnamed hybrids: creatures not imagined by us, but seeming to rise from a reservoir of civilizations so ancient they had come and gone without our knowing.
"So you can see them, too!"
"Yeah, it's like they're made of light. I mean....*made* of light."
We sat and watched the procession, which was endless, and happening only on Alison's wall in the illuminating swath of Alison's lamp. Each cigarette we smoked seemed to take an hour to inhale, and a fortnight to exhale, the smoke curling slowly out of our mouths like a weather system and filtering over this universe of beings, all the creatures in the world, made of light.
Written at a Handcrafted Words Online Workshop