I feel as if I’m finally beginning to understand just how difficult it can be to fall down a metaphorical rabbit hole. I think back to conspiracy theories I’ve heard, and now wonder if maybe their descent began in the same way mine did. I took a job to pay for my housing and have witnessed strange things. I have been told that a mysterious substance is involved and have now been told that I have perhaps been subjected to its use against my will and without my knowledge. It’s becoming a bit more difficult to keep telling myself that things are normal, that it’s just been an odd week.
“Are you assuming I’ve been exposed to this stuff because of how crazy I might sound?” I asked Dr. Kardos.
“I’m not trying to assume anything,” he responded calmly, “That’s why I just want to be sure.”
“What makes you think I might have been exposed, then?”
“Well, when you told me everything, you mentioned datura. I found that in this powder. I also found more than just that.”
I didn’t know what to think or really even how to respond. I flatly asked what else he had found.
“For starters, I don’t know how much you actually found out about datura, but it is generally fairly harmless. The flowers can be seen just growing on the side of the road in the southern US. The plant contains several different alkaloids which can produce psychological effects, but nothing like in the levels found in this datura. This one is different.”
“In what way?” I asked.
“It’s been severely altered. And in a way that would take a lot of time and a lot of engineering to make happen. See, datura generally contains scopolamine, but in relatively small amounts. This datura’s scopolamine levels were like nothing I’ve seen before. The levels of hyoscyamine and atropine were also lower than I have ever seen.”
“Right… and that means?”
“Sorry, I wasn’t sure how far your research had gone yet. Hyoscyamine and atropine are alkaloids which can have extensive uses on their own, but are largely not psychotropic. Scopolamine, however, has been used extensively in various countries such as Columbia and Venezuela to perform certain illegal acts.”
“What kind of illegal acts?”
“Well, Vice News published a video in which many Colombians interviewed said that they would rather die than be subjected to the effects of pure scopolamine. They tell stories of gangsters who would use the drug as a powder, blow it into a victim’s face, which would cause them to unquestionably give away all of their belongings, due to the degree in which the victims are subject to direction.”
“Oh, god. So you think that I was one of these people who has been subject to such ideas? I mean, there would have to be a reason, right? Like, how much does this stuff cost?”
“Calm down,” the doctor said, actually somewhat reassuringly. “Let’s just get answers first.”
I gave a urine test. I was anxious, and scared, and somewhat embarrassed.
After a couple of hours, I got a phone call. “Are you still nearby?” Asked the doctor.
“Actually, I still haven’t left.”
“Good. Well, not good I guess, but, uhh. Can you just please come back?”
I went back.
“Good news first,” Dr. Kardos began, “I mentioned that some of this drug has gotten into your system. Not much at all has reached you, though. It looks like whatever got to you must have been by accident. The bad news is that it seems there’s something that won’t go away.”
“What do you mean ‘go away?’”
“Most drugs have what’s called a half-life. Basically, when a drug is approved for use, there is a recorded time of how long the drug will last actively, and a time of how long a drug will still be in the system. For example, Xanax has a half-life of ____ hours, but will remain in the system for ____ hours. But I have tested this drug for its activity, and so far it seems as though there is no half-life. It’s been over 36 hours at this point, and in my subjects I don’t see any signs of this wearing off.”
“What does that mean for me?” I asked.
“It just means that you need to be careful. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on what I find out about this.”
I left feeling probably the worst I have since I moved. I got into my apartment, L still gone, and turned the TV on. I got some snacks and proceeded to call it a day, when I got a phone call.
It was J. She told me she had found out where L had gone.
“Ever been to Seattle?” She asked.
“Yes, but why are you asking me that?”
“Because I got you a ticket to go there. I know where L is and I can help you find her.”
“But I’m living here for free right now,” I protested.
“You think you are living there for free. It’s going to catch up to you eventually though.”
So, I accepted a ticket out to Seattle. What did I have to lose?
I met J at the Seattle airport, she was outside smoking a cigarette.
“Ever been here before?” She asked.
“Yeah, a couple of times, actually.”
“So, you would recognize downtown if you were to see it?”
“What do you mean,” I asked.
J drove us into downtown Seattle and parked the car in an all-day lot.