I have found it difficult to write fiction recently. I hate all my ideas before they really get off the ground. This is where writing challenges and prompts really help. This week I decided to take part in Chuck Wendig’s ‘Flash Fiction Challenge’.
The challenge was fairly simple: come up with a cocktail recipe, make it the title of your short story, and write a story that somehow relates to that cocktail… in 2,000 words or less. Challenge accepted!
Those with a less mature, trained palette will tend to stick to blood and cerebrospinal fluid. I prefer to follow the old adage, waste not, want not. There are many fluids excreted and secreted by the human body, and all of them have their distinct flavours and uses. For instance, sweat adds a hint of saline, while creating wonderfully unique cocktails when gathered from the skin and mixed with sebum instead of harvested directly from the sweat glands. Saliva is mostly flavourless, consisting mostly of water, but it does contain important electrolytes and antibacterials. I include saliva in my concoctions if I feel my glands swelling. You have to look after yourself, after all.
The more adventurous connoisseur will often discuss the value of female byproducts as the utmost of delicacies – breast milk, female ejaculate, and vaginal secretion. But the real crème de la crème is the amniotic fluid of a pregnant female. Pregnant women’s other fluids also take on the most amazing flavours; somehow sensual and often consumed to heighten sexual experiences.
You may find my tastes repugnant – it is true, they are not for everyone. But try not to judge something you have yet to try.
I was studying at university when I first experienced the joys of cerebrospinal cocktails. Back in the early days of my studies – when I still actually studied – I would spend all day in the library, tucked away in a back corner of the bottom floor. I liked it there. The water fountain hummed loudly while the fluorescent lights flickered and clicked rhythmically. I rarely saw another living soul down amongst history of statistics, transportation, and outdated computer science texts.
After I had been pouring over dry textbooks for more than seven hours one day, I heard whispered voices around the corner. They were huddled secretively around a pile of tattered books. Socrates, Plato (but no Aristotle, I noted), Sartre, Freud, Jung, Hume, Mills, Berkley, Rousseau, Russell, Nietzsche, the list went on. They appeared to be in no particular order. At that moment, they were focused on a volume concerned with Socrates. One of them threw himself backwards, head crashing to the floor.
‘Corrupt the youth!’ He shouted repeatedly, in between fits of shrill, maniacal laughter. The others looked about nervously. They saw me.
The group was noticeably tense. The one on the floor continued to roll around hysterically. I was no threat to them, but how could I communicate my intentions? Any sudden movement, sound, light… anything at all might have spooked them. I said the only thing I could think of.
‘The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.’
I wondered if I had made a mistake as I watched the blank faces stare back at me. Perhaps they weren’t as read up on Socrates as I had assumed. The group began to whisper amongst themselves, however, the mad whisperings of would-be philosophers can only hold my attention for so long. I had turned to leave when a hand patted me on the shoulder.
‘Do you drink?’
He was holding a small glass bottle in his right hand. It had no label and the liquid inside was as colourless as the glass. I wondered what it was. Why carry a spirit around in such a small bottle? And why offer it to strangers in the library basement? But it was late, my eyes were burning from reading too long in poor light, and I had a headache.
‘Why not,’ I said.
I pulled out the cork and sniffed the liquid. I smelt nothing. At least it didn’t smell deadly (or would that have been better?).
‘Easy now, don’t want to overdo it,’ said my new friend. He smiled at me – a sideways, idiotic grin. I wasn’t sure he was entirely with us on the realm of sanity. I returned his smile with a raised eyebrow.
‘Of course not.’
It wasn’t vodka. Or gin. Or any other clear spirit I knew of.
This was something completely different. It was wonderful. Illuminating. Spectacular. Time seemed to slow down. Everything in my field of vision grew clearer, more intense. As though suddenly their physical properties contained an immense amount of light. My skin tingled, sensual goose bumps rose up across my body. I happily stared into space as I let the euphoric feeling wash over me.
When I came to, the group had dispersed. There were a few philosophical volumes left on the floor, but otherwise there was no sign of them. I wondered how long I had been standing there – and what they had given me to drink. Collecting my things, carelessly stuffing my notebook into my bag, a note fell to the floor. ‘Basement. The Carillion bar. Tuesday. 9.40pm. – The philosophers’.
That was my first experience drinking a cerebro.
I have come a long way since then. The philosophers did much what you would expect of a group with such a moniker. During their pow-wows, they would drink cerebro and enlighten their minds with the works of the great philosophers. I didn’t stay with them long. Soon I wanted more than just cerebro and I had heard tales of more exotic cocktails – mixing cerebro with alcohols, and even other fluids with different effects. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with other cocktails that I began to wonder how it was all acquired.
Then came my initiation to the black market. And I mean the black market – not the one that is simply illegal; the one you grow up being faintly aware of.
The market was always on the move, being too dangerous for it to ever be held in the same place or even occur at regular intervals. The only consistent feature of the market is that it takes place in the dark. Too many of its customers – as well as the vendors – have consumed too many cocktails over the years, their eyes now far too sensitive to daylight.
There is always a selection of ‘fresh’ bars, allowing users to collect fluids from live specimens. Bar taps are connected directly to the host. It’s not as cruel as it might sound – they are always handsomely compensated and generally more than willing (even if it is out of desperation).
With a clear distinction, those selling live goods kept their distance from proprietors involved in stocking already deceased goods. Meanwhile, wealthy drinkers often have their own harems of well-paid, live fluid supplies. You see them walk through the market, proudly showing off their personal supply, purchasing fluids that can only be harvested after death.
I had always had a curious mind. Growing up, I had loved science and had four different science sets. I experimented in physics, biology, chemistry… and as an adult, I began to find that the usual avenues of scientific study were no longer enough to keep me interested. These fluids, these drinkers, they had stumbled upon something truly beautiful. But no one was experimenting with the kinds of cocktails they could produce by controlled environments for the products before harvesting.
I began to experiment.
I started by collecting samples from men I found attractive. If I were already drawn to their pheromones, perhaps their other offerings would also agree with me. Would the taste and physiological effect be different in samples collected before and after sex? If they had been drinking? Eating? Did age make a difference? And what if they felt fear instead of lust?
Fear. Fear was the key. Secretions collected from specimens who were experiencing fear are something exceptional. Fear-infused fluids took me to further highs than I thought possible. I had never understood violent, sadomasochistic relationships until then. The more I hurt them, the better the high. But accidents happen. At least, they were accidents to begin with.
The first death involved a miss-hap with loud Viking metal drowning out the sound of a safe word. It could have happened to anyone. For the second incident, I was not at fault either. But I began to notice that when they truly feared for their life – when they registered that we were no longer playing – the effects were stronger. It was as though the deeper the fear, the stronger the brew. The third fatality was to validate my hypothesis.
Each subsequent death was deliberate. But like all things, I began to tire of the same routine, the same highs. I wanted more. To push the boundaries, to experience more, to discover true enlightenment and clarity. The body grows accustomed to the same drugs. I had become saturated. I needed to find new recipes, new variants, new and more exciting ways to collect my samples. That’s when I met him.
While out on the prowl one evening, he distracted me. It was a new kind of drug. I drank nothing that night. Instead, we talked. We talked for hours. We walked through the empty city streets together and were still talking over breakfast at 6am. He arranged to meet with me again.
By the time I got home I had begun to convulse. Withdrawal set in quickly. My vision was blurred and I could do little more than stumble through the house. I smashed two bottles of pre-mix on the floor before I managed to hold on to one long enough to drink. I awoke after the sun had gone down, asleep on the bathroom floor, broken glass in my feet. I would have to be more careful.
Our relationship continued for another eight months. I was careful to never allow myself to under-medicate, collecting double my usual amount on nights when we were apart. For the first time I craved the company of another. He held me tightly as I grinded, sweat dripping down my breasts and neck.
‘I love you’, he said.
I snapped his neck as he came and discovered the most amazing infusion of all. Cerebro amour.