By the time the boys crossed the railroad tracks that separated Locustville’s tiny downtown area from the west side of town, the mushrooms were beginning to take effect. Everything took on a sort of liquidy-crystal-clear effect. Sol had easily sold Hal and Shane the idea of trying the psychedelics. “Think of them as the Keys to the Secrets of the Universe,” he said.
Activity had nearly ceased on Main Street; most of the shops were already shut down, but a few still had lights on and closing personnel sweeping and locking up. But the millhouse-lined, grid-patterned side streets were buzzing with trick-or-treaters and a few scattered parents. Suddenly a brilliant idea occurred to Shane.
“Bag snatchin’!” he hollered, inhibitions melting away like a layer of ice beneath the glow of the mushroom consciousness.
“Shhh!” Sol retorted with mild irritation. “Keep your voice down. We don’t want anyone to get wind of what we’re up to tonight. After tonight, our lives shall be changed forever. Mundane pleasures like taking candy from small children will no longer appeal to us. Besides, we ain’t got time for all that. C’mon. We’re about to the woods.”
The sun had almost completely set, and diffuse rays of light pierced the brilliantly soft garnet and gold forest canopy, casting long black shadows in all directions. A few scattered leaves crunched underfoot.
A light, crisp wind began to blow, causing leaves to loosen from their branches and swirl around in little cyclonic patterns. The storm quickly grew in intensity, stopping the boys in their tracks.
“What’s going on?” wondered Hal aloud.
“It ain’t nothing,” replied Sol, matter of factly, “let’s keep going.”
“Wait a minute, I’ve never seen nothing like this before.”
But Sol tried to reassure them. “It’s alright. It’s just the mushrooms making us see things.”
“You sure about that, Weed?”
He gave no reply, but merely gaped as the leaves began changing colors as they swirled around, from red and yellow to blue and green, orange, brown and finally black before exploding in a blinding flash that seemed to make time slow down to half tempo. When the smoke cleared and time had stretched back out to normal speed, everything looked much the same as before except that it was completely dark.
“Quite an auspicious sight,” murmured Sol.
* * *