White Owl

November 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM

The estimated reading time for this post is 26 minutes, 48 seconds

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Okay, so the first thing I’m going to tell you, in the interest of full disclosure and because it’s fairly pivotal to everything that comes next is that I am a drug user.

User, not addict. And I realise that this may well lead you to discredit everything I’m about to say as either lies or the fantasies of some junkie but that’s a risk I’ll have to take I suppose. Everything I’m about to relate to you is true, whether you want to believe it or not is entirely your business. If you want to just walk away at the end of this and forget all about the crazy druggie and their nonsense then that will be no skin off my nose.

So, I’m a drug user. Me and most of the guys were. I know it’s painfully cliché…a bunch of Wall Street big shots who do cocaine but there you have it.

Sometimes clichés are clichés because they’re true and in our case it definitely fit. It wasn’t anything we were into in a big way; however you would define that, which is why I reject the label ‘Addict’. It was never something I HAD to do, just something we did.

And it really did take the edge off, though I realise that’s probably a cliché excuse as well. But after a week of looking at numbers, staring at paperwork, filling out reports, moving sums from column A to column B, it became something to make unwinding that little bit easier.

There were four of us usually, myself, Peter Creed, then there was Raymond, Jake and Blakely. We’d go out, hit up a club that we knew had a reasonably hygienic bathroom and we’d do coke.
Blakely was usually the one carrying and usually the one to get it for us too.

And he was always the one to suggest trying something new, which we always went for, because after a while cocaine had lost its thrill. The first time I’d done it I’d been terrified of getting caught. The second time I’d been exhilarated at getting away with it. But after the fifth, the sixtieth, the hundredth? Honestly all I was worried about was whether I’d have a clean tissue if my nose started bleeding.

I suppose it’s like anything, if you do it often enough it becomes monotonous.

It stops becoming a thing you do because you want to do it but rather something that you do because it’s just something that you do. It becomes part of the routine, dull and predictable.

It stops being fun and becomes just
another aspect of your daily life.

You work nine to five and then Friday night you go do cocaine. So when Blakely had something new for
us we paid attention.

Blakely was the youngest of the group and easily the wildest. He hadn’t yet lost touch with old buddies from his college the way most of us had as work got in the way, hadn’t yet lost that energy we’d had when we felt ready to take on the world. He wasn’t the sort of person you could ever be FRIENDS with but he had this certain something that still made you want to be around him, spend time with him. He had energy, an enthusiasm, and a confidence that made you want to see what he’d do next.

It was a magnetism of sorts, a charisma that drew you to him even if your better judgement told you to keep away.

He had a spark…I suppose it would be fair to say that of all of us he was the one who seemed the most alive.

This is ironic given what happened later I suppose but I’m getting ahead of myself. Excuse me.

So anyway, Blakely. It was Friday night and we were all at some horrid little club the size of a shoebox where the music was too loud, the drinks were watered down and overpriced and the crowd was made up of equal parts thugs and morons. And Blakely, over the sound of the music and the people tunelessly singing along, asked me ‘Have you ever tried White Owl?’

I had no idea what he was talking
about. He was clearly trying to be discreet though not doing a good job of it as it was impossible to have a quiet conversation, and leant closer toward me.

“White Owl! It’s some next level shit!”

“Have you got any on you?” I hollered into his ear and he shook his head, grinning that wide grin of his. That was another thing about Blakely; he would always have this big, stupid smile on his face. Most of us figured it was the coke or whatever pills he was popping at work, giving him that little boost that stopped it breaking his spirit the way it had ours.

“No man, that’s not how it goes!”

“So what is it?” I asked, a little curious as to what exactly he was talking about. He shook his head again.

“No, no this shit, it’s not something you DESCRIBE to someone. Listen…” and at that he jerked his head toward the exit, beckoning me to follow him.

Pushing through the throng of bodies we found ourselves out in the open air, our only company one or two smokers desperate enough for nicotine fix to brave the cold night air.

And he began to tell me about White Owl.

Apparently it wasn’t something that could be carried around with your even purchased from a dealer. It was something far more exclusive than that, available only by invitation at a certain time and a certain place, to a select few who were picked out to get to try it. He’d been invited in by a friend who’d been invited by a friend and so on and so on. Once you were in you were able to select others to join the select group who got to partake of it.

It all sounded like a pyramid scheme or worse, some kind of cult to me, but Blakely was so lively as he talked about it, so eager and excitable that I was a bit curious. And more than anything I was desperate for something, ANYTHING to break the cycle, the soul crushing routine that felt like it had been going on for an eternity.

I was twenty six years old for Christ’s sake and my life was going NOWHERE. I wanted something to add some kind of excitement, some sort of thrill.

Blakely pressed his sweaty palm against mine, giving me a card with a time, a date and a place. Apart from that the only other thing on the card was a large white oval on a black background, with two large dark circles like eyes on it.

“Try it out man. It’s exactly what you’re looking for”

I was honestly still debating whether I would go or not when the anointed day came. Curiosity warred with cautiousness in my mind as the part that was eager to see what exactly was so special about what Blakely was talking about argued with the part that feared that all of this was some kind of trick, that at best it would be a prank and at worst this would be some kind of operation designed to snare unwary drug users, catch us in the act.

And my parents certainly hadn’t sent me to the finest schools in the country so that I could end up with my picture in the paper having been caught in some low rent crack den.

But in the end I wound up taking a cab down to where this ‘White Owl’ stuff was supposedly available, the desire to see what was so special about it winning out over fear and paranoia. The address was for one of those ghastly little places that’s meant to look ‘run down’ or ‘Urban’ but in fact cost a ridiculous amount of money to put together and was usually occupied mainly by hipsters and ‘artists’
desperate to feel like they were seeing the city’s ‘real’ face.

Spending a lot of money to make something look cheap is probably the best way to describe the aesthetic of these places. The one I was driven out to however didn’t seem to be occupied, unless everyone had their lights off at ten of clock on a Saturday night. I got out, paid the driver and made my way to the apartment specified on the card.

A few quick knocks on the door later and I was being greeted by a sight I really hadn’t expected. The person who had yanked it open in a manner which suggested they resented being bothered by anyone was about three feet tall, and dressed like he would be at home as a performer in some kind of carnival or circus.

His face was…deformed. That’s the only way I can think of to say it politely and from the looks of it, the deformity was not one he had been born with but rather something that had been inflicted.

He nodded at me, grunted and then motioned for me to follow him down the hallway.

As I passed a few closed doors I was aware of odd noises coming from behind them but I obviously wasn’t about to go snooping around this place, especially with my ‘host’ right in front of me.

Instead I followed silently to a lounge area where various people sat staring straight ahead. And all of them were staring at laptop screens.

The laptops themselves were set up on desks and had an incredibly strange design. It was as if random bits and pieces had been bolted, welded or wired up to them, none of the additions seeming to serve any purpose or function other than to make the laptops look odd. All the laptops were displaying a blank blue screen except for those that had people sat in front of them, those screens displaying nothing but static instead.

The people had a slack jawed expression on their face, headphones on their ears preventing them from hearing anything around them. It was a very strange sight to be greeted with and I was about to ask the dwarf what exactly was going on when a voice called out to me.

“You came! I knew you would!”

I turned to see Blakely just as he came up to me, giving me a slap on the back, his grin wider than ever, his face sweaty, eyes wide. He looked like shit, in all honesty but he certainly seemed happy to see me.

“Yeah, what IS this exactly?” I asked gesturing around at the people sat at the desks, “What, do they give us a free peepshow while we take this stuff?”

“This IS the stuff. Come on”

He led me to a chair and a desk, sitting me down and handing me a pair of headphones. I looked at him with an expression of confusion and discomfort but put them on all the same at his silent urging, wondering where this was going.

“Okay, now just watch” he said.

I looked at the screen. After a few moments it began displaying static and white noise could be heard through the headphones. I was wondering just what I was meant to do here and if this whole thing was some massive waste of time, if Blakely had been pulling my leg about this ‘White Owl’ thing. But then something happened.

Through the white noise I began to be aware of what sounded like snatches of conversation. The odd word here or there, muffled and hard to make out.

And as I stared at the screen I began to think that I could see something. It was vague and indistinct, like the blurry world a guy with bad eyesight sees without his glasses, or when you try and view something or someone through frosted glass.

But it was there. And I began to think that if I just tried to focus on nothing but what I was hearing through the headphones and seeing in the static, maybe I would be able to make it out. I began to become dimly aware of a shape forming, the white dots merging together to create one huge white mass as the black dots became huge circles in it, like eyes gazing out at me.

A hand on my arm jolted me out of the trance like state I’d slipped into and Blakely was looking at me with a smile as he yanked the headphones from my head.

“C’mon, time to go”

“Time to go? I’ve only been here for…”

I began but I trailed off as I looked down at my watch. I’d been there for five hours, staring at the screen, listening to the white noise. How had I been there for five hours? How could I possibly have not noticed that length of time passing me by? I’d heard of zoning out, losing track of time, but this was ridiculous.

I hadn’t taken anything. Nothing had been snorted, injected or otherwise entered my body. Just the screen and the headphones and the sensation of being on the verge of seeing something, hearing something, to the point where everything else slipped away.

“I don’t get it…all these people just come here and do this all night?” I asked, gesturing at the few who were still there, all still staring at the screens that doped up look on their faces. Blakely nodded.

“The first time’s just a taste man.

When you’re doing it regularly, that’s the real shit”

I really didn’t know if I wanted to be doing this ever again, whatever this was. I was creeped out, frightened by how I’d seemingly lost five hours of my life to static. We walked towards the exit, the little man with the scars holding it open as Blakely explained that the first time was free but after that you had to pay for any future visits.

I asked how much it was, more out of curiosity than any real desire to come back. How much would people be willing to pay to look at a screen? The little man grunted something in what could have been Russian and I looked at him quizzically. In a low growl he said,
‘One thousand’ in English.

“One thousand dollars? What, a day? A week? A Month?”

“Hour”

“On thousand an hour for THIS?”

Blakely was starting to look nervous now. That smile on his face was a little too forced; his skin looking like it was stretched taut over his face. Christ he really did look awful.

“It’s worth it man. Listen, I’ll pay for the next one. Long as you need. And if you don’t like it the second time, that’s it”

He was gripping my arm tighter now, to the point where it was becoming painful. There was urgency, a need in his eyes and more than that, a fear. He looked afraid of something, though whether it was the little man or something else I didn’t know. I just mumbled something like ‘Fine man, it’s your money’ and agreed though I had doubts about whether I’d stick to it.

Blakely looked relieved and the little man gave us cards with the date, time and place of the next meeting and then slammed the door behind us. I suppose the price explained why the guy running this show was such an asshole. If they were charging their customers a thousand and hour for this shit they probably weren’t too worried about attracting new people to these little get togethers anymore.

It was while Blakely and I were walking back together that I asked the obvious question.

“Why is it called White Owl?”

Blakely looked at me confused, tilting his head like a dog looking up at its master.

“You didn’t see it man? Everybody sees it, even the first time”

It took me longer than I would have liked to work out what he was talking about. That shape in the static, a white-ish mass with two large black ovals where you’d expect to see eyes.

Like a white owl. Was that what Blakely was talking about? But that made even less sense than when I had no idea why they named it this.

“What do you mean everybody sees it?

You can’t share a hallucination”

“Everybody sees it man. I don’t know what else to tell you”

We said out goodbyes and I made my way home, thinking about what Blakely had said. It must have been something other than a hallucination that I saw I told myself, some trick they did on the screens. Or maybe even some marginally less low-tech version of those ‘Magic eye’ images you would stare at when you were a kid. It was a trick.

Though that didn’t explain the odd sensations I’d felt while it happened. It hadn’t been exactly like being high, but it was comparable to that. And the time I’d lost, how could that be?

I didn’t sleep well that night. I jerked away with a word on my lips that
I’d never spoken before and didn’t know what it meant. The covers were drenched in sweat, despite the cold of the room and I found myself feeling strangely exhilarated, like I’d been running. My heart was beating fast and my eyes darted around the room. I couldn’t get back to sleep.

I figured they had to have slipped me something or else used some kind of subliminal messaging, some fancy mind-fuck that messed you up. Why anyone would pay to feel like that was beyond me. And yet despite myself, despite every rational impulse in my body telling me to leave this alone, I wanted to go to that second meeting.

I wanted to find out what was so special about the second time that it made people want to come back again and again, pay such huge amounts of money for the privilege of being part of this little group. And I told myself that since it was going to be Blakely paying for it I didn’t really have anything to lose, except maybe a few hours of my time that I’d only spend sleeping or at some shitty bar or club anyway.

Why not try it out, a little voice in my head whispered. Why not see what makes it so special?

The night came and this time Blakely was waiting for me outside, looking anxious until he spotted me at which point he smiled happily and rushed over to meet me, like an eager little puppy.

“I was getting worried you weren’t gonna show” he said and I shrugged, brushing off his concern. Why the hell would he be worried? All me not showing up would mean is that he got to keep his money.

“Whatever. This is probably going to be the last time I do this” was all I said back, the words coming out a little more bluntly than I mean them to. But

Blakely didn’t seem to care, instead hurrying along towards the building, looking back now and then to make sure I was following him inside.

It was the same set up as last time, though a few more people were there now. The headphones went on, I sat before the screen and the static and white noise began to play.

Except this time it was different.

This time somehow the images seemed sharper, the voices more distinct. This time I began to feel more like I understood what I was seeing, what I was hearing. I began to feel immersed in it, as if the static was pouring out of the screen, flooding the room around me, surrounding me in a sea of black and white, all other noise lost in the roar of the sound from the headphones, the sound of voices, many voices.

A thousand, a million, maybe more. All speaking, in hushed whispers or perhaps loudly but infinitely far away, my skin tingling as I watched, as I felt myself being taken somewhere else.

And above it all was the shape, wings stretched wide, covering a thousand miles or more, its eyes looking into me, those black, empty eyes. The White Owl.

As before the session felt like it was over before it began. But this time I didn’t feel confused and irritable, this time I felt…different. I felt charged, energised. I felt like I was overflowing with life, like there was too much energy in me to be contained.

I felt like I could do a million things all at once and still not feel remotely tired, that I could do anything, anything at all.

I felt potent and primal, felt like a lion about to pounce upon limping prey.

That sensation of barely repressed power, ready to be unleashed upon the world. Like I could burst.

Blakely could clearly tell that this time was different. As soon as we were out the door I began to speak, hurriedly and eagerly, a grin on my face that would probably rival Blakely’s own.

“That felt INCREDIBLE!” was the first thing that came out and he nodded, evidently not surprised at this reaction.

“What’d I tell you? After the second time it’s all different”

“I feel fantastic! I feel…I feel BETTER than I’ve felt in…in ever! Like I could do anything, beat anyone, achieve any goal! I want to…I want to run! I want to run and swim and jump and…and HUNT”

The word slipped out without me even consciously meaning to say it. I had no idea why I said it. And yet it felt right, felt good. It was true, wasn’t it? I did, I wanted to hunt. I wanted to see something run before me and to give chase, to run it down, chase it until it was exhausted, until it couldn’t run anymore and then to pounce upon it, to devour it whole. To rip. To tear. To eat.

I was hungry. I was so hungry.

After that experience I started going more and more frequently. In fact pretty soon I was never missing a meeting, showing up for every single one of these little get-togethers the people selling ‘White Owl’ did. I was spending a small fortune on this every month and yet it really didn’t matter.

Because the more I went there, the more a funny thing started to happen.

Things just started falling into place for me. My job, that I’d found so taxing, so draining, became so simple.

It was if each burst of that static, each dose of that white noise had the effect of sharpening my mind, like a knife on a whetstone. As if I was being sculpted, perfected, the dull witted thing I once was being moulded into someone who could overcome any obstacle, beat any challenge.

Raises, promotions and hearty slaps on the back from those above me became a commonplace occurrence at work as I proved myself to them. As I became smarter, more focused. The imbeciles around me, unable to see the solutions
I saw, unable to work to the standard I worked, gazed at me with envy.

“What’s his secret?” I imagined them muttering to themselves.

I won’t deny that there were…side effects. The odd dream I’d had after the first dose became the norm. My dreams became increasingly bizarre. Not frightening I would say, just strange.

I would imagine myself somewhere else. Someone else. Something old and powerful and strong, in a place far from here. Wet grass beneath my bare feet, and the sound of the ocean, the smell of fresh air that had never been tainted by the pollution of man.

I would imagine myself surrounded by things, things that slithered and skittered and crawled, that chattered in a billion strange and ancient voices, in a language not meant to be heard by those unworthy of this blessing. I imagined myself stood with others like me on an island far from ‘civilisation’, in a place long forgotten by the foolish and fickle.

We would sing and dance and run and hunt. We would call up to the sky and hear an answer from somewhere far away and yet close.

I imagined a vast structure, huge and imposing, stretching up to the sky like a tower of Babel, its design utterly alien, utterly unlike anything one would dream up for people to live or work in, covered in strange writing and odd sculptures.

And I knew that there were things living inside it, vast things. I imagine shapes, things I could recall with no great clarity when I woke up, huge fleshy bulks that glistened and shimmered and moved so fast that they made everything else appear to be slow motion. And above it all, her wings stretched out to blot out the sky, her eyes looking down upon us, was the White Owl, the beautiful and terrible White Owl.

Each time I would wake up I would remember a little bit more. Never the whole thing, never the whole shape of what I was seeing but my memories would become clearer. Like they weren’t memories of a dream but memories of something that really happened, long ago. Sometimes I would imagine, just for a brief moment that I wasn’t alone in my room when I woke up. That all around me were things in the dark, chittering and hissing their eyes locked on me.

I imagined they were proud.

I was hungry all the time. I was eating more and more and yet never gaining weight, my clothes getting baggy and loose on me no matter how much food I gobbled down. It was as if the White Owl wouldn’t allow me to put on weight, as if it sculpted my body as perfectly as it sculpted my mind, not letting me get out of shape. It was the same with Blakely and some of the other guys too I noticed.

The first stray dog I killed was probably about nine months into this thing. I didn’t plan to do it or anything, I just…I saw it there. Old and limping and weak. I picked up a can from the sidewalk and threw it, made it run.

It had to run, had to flee. Had to have a chance, I suppose. And then I was bounding after it, pouncing on it, teeth and nails digging, biting, and ripping into it.

I was disgusted with myself after I was done. But for the first time in months

I felt full. I felt satisfied.

After that it became something of a nightly thing for me. Stray dogs and…other things. Standing there with blood under my nails and on my teeth, licking it from my lips. I felt like I was tapping into something ancient and powerful, buried underneath all the layers of politeness and ‘society’. I felt like roaring up to the sky, howling my triumph to the stars. Sometimes I imagined that there were eyes looking back down at me, proud of my accomplishment.

Proud of the hunt.

Then came the night that changed things.

We knew that there was something different as soon as we arrived, Blakely and I. When we showed up at the time and place we’d been told to gather there were no screens set up, no headphones waiting to be comfortably fitted over our ears. Everyone was sat in a circle, a bunch of the regulars and a few of the ‘casuals’…those who either didn’t have the money or the dedication to make it to every meeting, who didn’t do White Owl every time it was available.

How we despised them. How we sneered. They would never understand the full experience, never truly be embraced by this majestic and beautiful thing we had allowed into our heads. For them this was just another buzz, another high. For us it was something transformative. Something holy.

Blakely and I sat down, no one saying a word. We all eyed each other up; all wondering what this could be about. And then the door opened and a newcomer stepped into the circle.

She was tall and dressed in a dark black suit with red gloves. One side of her mouth sported a jagged scar, giving her the appearance of a jagged grin, her short red hair a mass of curls. She held a chain in one hand, attached to a collar around the neck of a man dressed in a wifebeater that was stained a bright red, his arms and face caked in the same. He would take a few lumbering and clumsy steps with each tug on the chain, his eyes bloodshot, his pupils like pinholes.

“This is Jonas.

Jonas is my dog” the woman said, by way of introduction. She didn’t give her name. Her voice was strange and difficult to listen to. At first I was unsure of what it was but something about it sounded hollow, artificial.
Like it wasn’t a real voice at all but one that was being generated by a computer or something like that. And more than that, the voice hurt. She spoke normally and yet it felt like it was too loud, like all the noise in the room was absorbed by it so it was the only thing you were allowed to hear.

“One of you has let me down. One of you has broken my heart with your betrayal.

And Jonas is here to find the betrayer.

One of you has been talking to the police. Naively thinking there is anyone you can talk to who doesn’t belong to me. Naively thinking that they are smarter than me”

Her voice hurt so much to listen to. I could tell it wasn’t just me, the others flinched with every word, looking nervously at each other, all of them thinking the same thing. Which of you was it? And what will she do to us because of it? Every single one of us was afraid in that moment, afraid that all would be punished because of what one had done.

Myself, I was most worried that she would no longer give us the White Owl. The thought of having it taken from me, not getting my regular fix of the White Owl was the worst thing I could imagine.

The woman came to look at each of us in turn, her eyes focused on us with a frightening intensity. Her eyes looked wrong. Her face looked wrong. Not the scar, the scar was hardly the worst thing I’d seen but just something about her was off. It made my skin crawl to be near her. I saw others flinch away as she brought the tips of her fingers near to their faces.

Finally she came to a stop at a sickly looking man. He was a casual user of White Owl, not someone who showed up often but I’d noticed him there a few times. It didn’t surprise me to see that it was one of the casuals who had sold us out. In that instant I hated him, despised him, wanted to tear him apart. How DARE he try and ruin this wonderful thing for us?

He began to whimper and stammer out claims that this wasn’t true, that he would never do this thing but the woman looked like she was looking right through him, like he wasn’t even there. Like nothing he said was being heard.

“Darren

You have upset me”

The man’s face drained of all colour as if he knew that those words would be some of the last ones he would hear in what little remained of his life.

“Hold him”

Two of us stepped forward to grab his arms. He begged and cried and pleaded for us to stop this, his voice becoming higher and shriller as she beckoned for us to bring him, tugging on Jonas’s chain. The blood soaked thing on the chain turned and followed her, the rest of us accompanying them, dragging the kicking and shrieking man with us, knowing that this location was surely carefully chosen so as to make sure that no one would hear him who could help.

We stepped out into the cool night air to see a crowd had gathered. Others dressed in smart suits like us but with the crucial difference that each of them wore upon their faces a white mask, featureless but for two large dark ovals. I didn’t feel surprised to see them. I can’t speak for the others but none of them, even the casuals, looked that shocked that they were there.

Like the woman they were new to us, unfamiliar and yet at the same time it felt like we knew them. Like we had seen them before. And we all instantly knew that they were here to be a part of whatever was to follow.

Darren, the crying and screaming wreck of a man who had earlier been so composed, was hurled to the ground at the woman’s feet. She looked down at him the way one would look at a mass of maggots they had found in their dinner, a look of unrestrained and complete disgust. He got on his knees, sweaty hands clasped together as if in prayer, begging for his life, begging for her not to hurt him, insisting he had done nothing wrong.

She clearly did not care.

“Run”

He looked at her, confused.

“Run

You’ll be given a five minute head start

Then we hunt. We hunt YOU”

He looked at each of us in turn. Did he expect any of us to plead his case? Ask her not to do this? HELP him? What a stupid little man. As if any of us would cross her. As if any of us would do anything that might get us cut off from the supply of White Owl. But then that’s a casual for you. He took off running after a few moments and I looked over at the woman.

And for an instant she wasn’t the same. She wore no mask and yet for just a second, for a split second, her face was not her face at all. Her hair was gone. Her head was bald and devoid of facial features, save for two massive black circles where one would expect to see eyes. Two pitch black sockets that seemed not to merely contain darkness but an absence, an absence of anything at all.

And then it was gone and she was once more as she had been before. Her eyes lingered on me as if she knew what I had seen, and I thought for an instant

I saw a smile there.

We waited for a few minutes and then Blakely stepped forward, eager to begin.

“So do we do it now?

Do we hunt?”

There was a pause. She looked at him, her expression unreadable. Unknowable.

“The five minutes weren’t for him”

The gunshot was louder than I thought it would be. I mean I’d only heard a gun go off on TV before now. In real life it’s really much noisier.

Blakely’s expression slowly turned from that confident, cocky grin to a look of confusion and pain, as a dark red stain began to spread, seeping through his shirt. Dumbly he pressed his hands to the wound, as if not quite believing it was real, red coating his hands as he dropped to his knees, much as Darren had before him.

“I knew it was you Blakely.

I just wondered if you would confess”

I was so disappointed in him. But then Blakely had always been greedy. But to try and sell us out, to sample the delights and wonders of White Owl and then try and earn himself a quick buck by selling us out, it disgusted me. It was strange how little our former friendship meant as I looked down at him, I suppose. But suddenly he wasn’t a friend or even a man at all.

He was traitor.

“The hunt is sacred, Blakely. Do you think I would desecrate it like this?

Traitors don’t get hunted.

Traitors just get butchered”, the woman said.

And then, as one mass, we fell upon him. With nails and teeth we fell upon him, clawing, biting, scratching, gouging, ripping tearing. The sound of tearing clothes followed by the sounds of tearing flesh, as Blakely vanished into a dozen hungry, eager mouths. And he wasn’t even a traitor to me anymore. Now he was meat.

I didn’t feel hungry for weeks afterwards.

You should have seen Darren’s face when we caught up to him…forgive me for chuckling but he really thought we were going to hunt and eat HIM! Oh lord was his face a picture…we all had a good laugh about it afterwards though, once he’d calmed down and gotten himself another dose of the good stuff to calm his nerves. The woman, who I learned after was named Fenris, even gave him that nights dose for free, to compensate him for his troubles. He was a good sport about it after that.

Blakely officially took off on an ‘extended vacation’ after that, during which, as far as the boys at the office and his family members are concerned, he met a beautiful young woman who he eloped with on the spur of the moment.

I’m sure he’ll still send his family postcards though. We all share a little smile every time we ‘receive’ them at the office too.

We pin them up on the notice boards and everything, letting anyone who walks past read about what a good time Blakely’s having.

And wouldn’t you know it with him gone, guess who wound up getting picked for that cushy top job he was going to be getting? A big promotion, a big pay rise…and a MUCH nicer office. I guess I have to thank Blakely really. He introduced me to White Owl and now, with him ‘away’ I guess he’s helped me out in another way too.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re waiting for the downside, right? You’re waiting to hear how it all went wrong, so I can warn you to stay away from White Owl and the people who peddle it, waiting for the part where something horrible happens and I learn the error of my ways too late.

This isn’t that kind of story. And that sure as hell isn’t why I’m telling you it.

I’m telling you it because one day, maybe one day soon, you might just get an invitation to try White Owl.

Someone, a friend or a relative might slip a card into your pocket with a time.

A date.

And a place.

And I would strongly encourage you to go there.

Because here’s the thing. I know I made it clear at the start of this story I hate clichés but I’m going to have to end on one I feel is particularly relevant.

It really IS a jungle out there. And take it from me, it’s eat…or be EATEN

Credit: Alice Thompson