An Ode to Nangs


Words || Georgia Drewe

He hands me the balloon, and I take it, unsure.

“How do I…?”

“Oh! That’s easy. You just block your nose, and hyperventilate into the balloon like you’re having a panic attack into a paper bag.”

Finally, something I’m good at.  

The taste is faintly sweet. I breathe for a few seconds, watching the balloon expand and contract inches from the bridge of my nose.  

Nothing seems to be happening. Am I doing this right? Until…Oh God. Everything in the universe starts to happen within the space of about a second. The balloon is expanding in hyper-realistic clarity. My head starts to spin – but spin is the wrong word.  It’s more like it’s…expanding.

There’s a rush as the universe comes up to envelop me, and time slows down to a single second. I’m breathing just the same, but each breath seems to take an eternity to pass from my lungs. It occurs to me that if I don’t stop breathing this balloon I’ll die.

Another colossal breath drags its way from my lungs and my head swells. I take the balloon from my mouth. Just in time. Another second and my head would have exploded – I can feel the explosion swelling. How long has there been a bomb inside my head?

Things are receding now – I’ve left the ground behind me. The ringing in my ears is overwhelming. I don’t think we ever really hear silence, do you? The weight of things are left behind. Everything I’ve ever known unfurls like a book in front of me, to reveal things I never could have guessed.  It’s like the universe has a secret – one it’s been dying to tell. It seems to shriek it at me. I’m only here for a moment. It knows that. It’s trying to tell me all it can before I pass away.

It is the wrong world – this clarity I’m seeing can’t be personified. It’s not alive. It’s so much more than alive.

Things whiz past me.  Mad concepts of crucial importance are dashing past me, trying desperately to stick in my head, to be dragged back to Earth with me.  

“Everything’s a conspiracy!” shrieks itself at me, and I understand perfectly.  I won’t forget, I assure it. Yet I understand perfectly the reaction these mad truths will incite. They’ll be laughed off. They have to be. The human mind in its original state can’t accept these truths. We can’t stay in this state forever. This fleeting moment of understanding is all that can be afforded to me, for $1.50 a pop, as my neurons burst and fizzle. This is a rush. This is euphoric. This is… Killing me.

I can condense it down, I promise.  I can find a way to articulate this. I understand it all, and I understand why this is too mad to be shared, just give me a thing to remember! Give me a way I can describe this.

My mind races. It’s the scientists. The concept of humor. Terry Pratchett. No, you won’t remember Pratchett. Think about Douglas Adams, he’ll remind you of Pratchett. The way the Discworld was created? Is that all life is? A mad experiment? The pages of the universe are unfurling the other way now, and I watch the text run off the pages. I’ve understood. I’m understanding. It’s… Gone.

Where’s it going? My head can’t take much more of this, my body is in bliss, my mind is sprinting circles.  I’m descending slowly, and I notice that somebody is holding my hand. As the ringing intensifies one last time, I hear a voice. Clear. Human.  

“Your life is a lie.”

I’m back.  I’m on Earth again.  The book is closed to me.  

“Terry Pratchett is key to it all somehow!” I blurt out.

Wait, what? Why the fuck did you say that?

God, what a headrush. Welcome back to Earth, loser. You’ve dropped your balloon, good job.  It was the only pink one left.

That was… intense. That was like an orgasm, only…busier. Jesus, your brain feels like mush, it’s crawling out your ears. You realised something.  But what?

Oh, fuck it.

Another one? Oh, why the fuck not.