Centre Cannot Hold

Entry by: Octopoda

25th October 2017
Centre… Cannot… Hold

She rolls the small pill between thumb and forefinger. She holds it up to the light from her desk lamp. It is a thing of beauty. Small rainbow coloured flecks of crystal dance inside the clear encasement. The particles within it are alive with energy and possibility. She places it in her palm and closes her fingers around it in a loose fist. Just holding it makes her heart race with excitement and anticipation. This is her secret. This could be her breakthrough.

The lab is deathly quiet. The only noises she can hear come from the hum of the industrial refrigerators and the sound of her own breathing. This is when she enjoys working the most, when it is pitch black outside and the rest of the world is asleep. Even when she was a medical student she found that her best research had been conducted at night. There was a certain alchemy at play in the nocturnal hours that befitted her own chemical experiments: something about the moonlight and the silence.

She has been working in the field of Nootropics for over ten years. Now she is employed by an organisation that wishes to remain anonymous. They are happy with her methods, the fact that she experiments on herself enables them to sidestep tricky ethical issues. She had no reservations about signing the confidentiality documents and the disclaimers indemnifying her employers. The fact that she lives at the research centre suits her too. She has always felt herself to be something of a loner. Her desire to ‘try anything once’ was at first met with admiration and awe at university. However, when her peers discovered the extent of her experimentation, they saw something in her that scared them. This wasn’t about how hard she could party, this was something more antisocial. Her singular vision revolved around a need to test her body’s limits. She wanted to unlock something in her brain, something new and unchartered.

It was impossible to explain to anyone the realms she had travelled to. She attempted to document her results in video documents and field notes. The drawings and paintings she completed captured something of her experience, but it was only an inference, a mild replica of something outside of language and image. She carefully compiled all of this information for her employers. The organisation is specifically interested in those results that indicate increased productivity, speed, memory and strength. However, her own personal objective involves a desire to tunnel into the darkest depths and fly to the furthest edges of her consciousness.

Her experiments have brought her here. To this moment in time. She feels that acutely. When she had taken the last pill, she experienced an hour as if it were a decade. Time had elongated like a wave of thick elastic that slowly and gently stretched to the point of breaking, before springing back into the present. There was a moment in the middle of it all when she felt an ecstasy that was so formidable it threatened to shatter her into a thousand pieces. She felt divine. She was the centre, the origin. On the video recording she is moving at rapid speed. Her muscles and her brain hyperactive. Yet her inner experience was one of infinite stillness. She felt like the sun around which the planets were orbiting at ever increasing velocity. She felt that she was on the edge of witnessing something never seen before. She likens it to a chink of light escaping from a gap in an otherwise solid wall. She was on the precipice of something, of discovering the answer to a question that no one has yet posed.

The camera is set up on the tripod and the usual items are laid out in front of her on her desk, including the jug of water and the single glass. Tripling the dose is a risk, but she has to push through this time. She may not survive in the form she is now. Either way, the result will be new knowledge: of one thing or another. There may be a moment when the centre cannot hold, but what will be on the other side? She has to find out.

She puts the pill on her tongue, lifts the glass to her lips and swallows.