Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
I’ve been completely clean for about two years, now, and I owe it all to the last drug I ever took. It apparently goes by many names, and it’s not easy to get your hands on it. The people who use it only give it to close friends, or people who they mean to do harm. Nothing can prepare you for the experience, not even smack.
Myself, I did Dead Arm when I was a senior in college. Finals were getting rough. I had a group of buddies that I took things with. Not exactly the type of friends your parents hope you’ll make – none were students like me, just townies, all different ages from seventeen to almost sixty. None of us were alike in any way, except for the one thing we had in common: what we were putting in our bodies. We’d veg out, high as kites. Escaping the world. Escaping our problems.
The more pressure I felt in my “normal” life, the more I turned to smack to help me through it. I would never even associate with these other folks before I started using, but they were slowly becoming my only friends. There was this one dude whose house we went to that we only knew as “Moses”. He had a two-bedroom apartment but somehow we fit almost fifteen of us in there to chill at “parties” that he threw.
I hardly ever spoke to Moses but he took a liking to me for some reason. He’d share some of his extra-potent shit with me, at times buy me pizza and beer, and generally just acted cool. He must’ve been forty-something but never had a stick up his ass or anything. Very laid back.
One day I hit up Moses after failing a final and asked him if he was having a get-together that night. He texted back “No”, so I started making plans with other people. Like ten minutes later, he texts me again:
“Actually, yeah. But can u just come? dont bring anyone else”
Naturally, I head over to his place because I want to get fucked-up, regardless of who else is there. I knocked on his apartment door and he let me in. The place was empty.
“Woah, man. Where is everyone?” I asked.
Moses looked at me seriously, a look I had hardly seen on his face before. “Hey, [my name], listen. You’ve been pretty chill and level-headed at my parties, and I want to offer you something. I’m going to this dude Ted’s house tonight, he’s got some of this new shit that he’s super-exclusive with. He’s down for you to tag along, but you have to really keep it on the down-low. You in?”
“What is it that he’s got, exactly?”
“I…it’s just…you’ll see. But trust me, it’s out of this world. You in?”
Bitch, you serious? You might as well have just described a Thanksgiving feast to a starving man. Ten minutes later we had arrived at Ted’s apartment complex.
It was the dingiest shithole I had ever seen. Trash was lying around the front of the building, broken glass was scattered about, and the place just had a certain stink to it. Although I wanted to leave, my itch to get high was stronger. We went up to the third floor, where Ted’s apartment was. Moses had a brief conversation with whoever opened the door before we were let in, assuring him I was cool.
Ted’s apartment was even more disgusting than the rest of the building. Almost no furniture, just dirty blankets and towels thrown on the floor with like ten people laying around on them, still as corpses. In the corner, someone was having sex with another person who looked barely conscious. All of them were moaning in such a bizarre way, almost like a death rattle from The Grudge but a lot louder. It was freaking the fuck out of me, but I figured I wouldn’t care about it at all soon enough.
The doorman came to me and Moses.
“You guys ready? You know the deal, it’s a hundred-fifty for a hit.”
“I’ve got it covered,” Moses said, pulling out a small wad of cash. He gestured to me. “It’s this kid’s first time doing Dead Arm. Get him first.”
He handed the cash over and the doorman grunted in approval. He took a belt from off the only table in the place and from its drawer he conjured a syringe. It looked to be full of a brown substance that looked to me like liquid dirt. He wrapped the belt tight around my arm. Moses made conversation as the doorman got the needle ready.
“Where’s Ted at?” he asked.
The doorman replied, “In his room. Don’t fuckin’ bug him.”
“Fair enough. No Ben tonight?”
“Nope. Remember what happened to his arm last week? He’s too embarrassed to be seen like that, I guess.”
“Shoulda just cut it off.”
“No doubt, brother.”
The doorman approached me with the needle. I nodded at him and he stuck it into one of the protruding veins in my arm. I watched the brown liquid leave the syringe and make its way into the bloodstream.
As soon as the needle was out, I immediately and unwillingly dropped to the floor. My knees just stopped working. Everything stopped working. I couldn’t move my head, arms, legs, even my mouth was hanging open. Completely numb, completely paralyzed. My head started ringing terribly. It was terrifying. I started to try and call out, but all I could do was moan, and I realized with a jolt that the noise I was making was not at all unlike the noises everyone else in this room was making.
Then, suddenly, the ringing in my head stopped and was replaced with such a deep relaxation that I cannot even describe to you through words. It was unlike anything I had ever felt, almost otherworldly carelessness. My paralysis suddenly did not matter, my finals did not matter, nothing mattered. My muscles felt like they were being lightly tugged in every direction. It felt like my body was dissolving into a puddle onto the floor, and it was incredible.
Not long after, I saw Moses fall to the floor by my side. The doorman stepped over us both and put the syringes he had used on us away. Then he went back to standing by the door, playing on his cell phone.
An hour passed. Nothing but pure bliss and silence, apart from the moaning and the humping in the back. Soon, though, that latter noise stopped and suddenly, this bare-naked dude was standing above me, the guy who was doing the banging. He crouched down to me, this hungry look in his eyes. I didn’t care – I couldn’t care. All that mattered was that I was lying down, with my muscles being deliciously pulled by whatever this shit in my veins was. Unable to move. Unable to think. Only existing at bare minimum.
The naked stranger started whispering something to himself and licking his lips. He got closer to me, his face mere centimeters from mine.
“Hey!” the doorman yelled. The naked stranger was yanked off of me and thrown into the apartment wall. The doorman raised a fist to him threateningly. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You paid for that one in the back, not this one.”
“Come on, man! Let me have this!” the naked man screamed.
“Is this going to be a fucking problem? Do I have to bring Ted in here?”
I heard the naked man whimper in fear. He shook his head, hustled to grab his clothes, and then ran out of the apartment with them.
And still I was on the floor without a care in the world. Almost raped by a stranger, and couldn’t be bothered to give the slightest shit.
I lay there for another hour. Slowly, I felt myself coming back down to Earth a bit. Although I still couldn’t move or think straight, I started becoming a bit more aware. I wondered how long I would be like this. I wasn’t worried about it, it was just genuine curiosity. I also started to ponder about where this Dead Arm stuff could’ve possibly come from and what was in it.
Call it my inner conscience, call it God, or call it voices in my head, but something answered my bemusement:
Don’t worry about where I’m from. Just keep yourself still. You belong to me right now.
I could live with that.
Another hour gone by.
Discomfort started coming into my lower back. I still couldn’t move, but it was a bit of a relief knowing that my body was starting to respond to the things around it. Shit, even the relief itself was a relief.
Some of the other people around me who were on Dead Arm started to come out of it and stumble out of the apartment, thanking the doorman as they passed. By then it was like 2 AM.
At probably around 2:30, the doorman got off his phone and went out of my sight. I heard him knock on a door – most likely to one of the bedrooms – and call out, “Yo, Ted! I’m out, man. You still got six or seven out there so just a heads up.”
Although I could hear noises in response, I couldn’t exactly tell what was being said.
The doorman spoke again: “Yeah, alright, man. Have a good night.”
The doorman came back into my view, stepped over me, and walked out of the apartment.
Another hour passed when I heard one of the doors in the back open. At the same time someone came walking out. One of the people who had been high on the floor started coming to – a woman.
I heard her say to someone softly, “Oh! Hey, Ted. Thanks for the hit. Do you think you could help me to the door? My legs are still a little numb.”
The noise that replied almost completely killed my high. It was a mix between a scream and wet gurgle. If I had heard it a couple hours ago, I wouldn’t have cared, but I could feel myself coming down and I was suddenly absolutely terrified…but still couldn’t move.
Two pairs of feet started making their way towards the door. One after another, two people came into my line of sight: the first was a thirty-something blonde woman. She was stumbling a bit, using the wall as support before making her way out the door. Couldn’t recall exactly what she looked like.
But the second person I will remember until the day I die. He was a man, but unlike any person I have ever seen, before or since. His body looked like it had been stretched, pulled every which way like elastic. His arms were so long that his fingertips were touching the floor. His jaw was so wide open that the entirety of his mouth had to be at least a foot long, and it was full of jagged, broken and yellow teeth. The skin under his beady eyes was black and sunken. The hair on his head was grown in uneven patches. Brown patches were all over his face, arms, and legs, and they were disgustingly leaking a similar-colored liquid onto the floor – it looked quite a lot like Dead Arm.
This man was practically inhuman. Nobody in the human race, regardless of our breakthroughs in cosmetics, looked like that or was ever supposed to look like that. It was a fucking monster standing over me.
And even still I could not move.
All I could do was scream, and even then not very loudly. When I did, the wet, beady eyes of the monster-person looked down at me. The thing’s head cocked slightly and a look of confusion came over its face – as if it couldn’t understand why the fuck I was screaming at the sight of it.
It shook its head and walked out of my view, which terrified me more. I didn’t want to look at it, but I also didn’t want to be unaware of what it was. My mind was racing furiously, wondering what I should do, if maybe somehow I could roll myself to the door…
No. No. Just relax. You belong to me for now, remember? It’s not so bad. Just look at Ted.
That fucking thing was Ted?
I tried to fight the overwhelming urge to just lay there, but found myself just as helpless as before. The straining to move at least one of my muscles was fruitless and started paining me greatly. Suddenly my muscles weren’t relaxed, they were flaring up. It hurt so badly I didn’t even scream – I just passed out.
When I woke up, I was myself again. And I immediately started screaming as the memory of what went down last night came rushing back to me.
Moses, who looked like he had just woken up himself, was crouching next to me instantly.
“Dude! Get a hold of yourself!” he yelled. “Relax!”
I told him everything that had happened – from the naked stranger to the voices I had heard after taking the Dead Arm and the oozing monster that had come out of the back room. Throughout my explanation, Moses’ face fell.
He said, in a low voice, “You need to leave right now. Ted’s insecure enough as it is, and you’re not gonna help by calling him a fuckin’ monster. Thankfully for you he’s asleep right now.”
“What the fuck? Dude, he was stretched out, he didn’t even look like a person!”
“Side-effect of the Dead Arm, man. Ted knows how to party.”
“Are you fucking telling me that we could end up like that if we keep using that shit?”
“Dude, don’t you remember how good it felt? Are you telling me it’s not worth it?”
By the time he finished his sentence, I was already out the door. I got out of the apartment complex and turned my head. From one of the windows on the third-floor, I saw a glimpse of Ted, the monster-person, staring down at me with those tiny eyes, the impossibly-wide jaw still agape in a permanent state of relaxation.
I screamed and sprinted away. I couldn’t help it.
Ever since that night, I refused to touch another substance. I never spoke with Moses or the old crew again. And I never even once walked near Ted’s house. Not long after my night there, he was gone and I never got the invite to come back, and part of me was glad. He’s what I was afraid of the most.
Because I know someday I’m going to end up just like him.
I’m off drugs now because nothing can compare to Dead Arm. Nothing at all. I’ll find it again and will use it. This is one addiction that no amount of rehab can help. The relaxing helplessness, the stillness of the mind…
Oh, and that soothing voice, too. I hear it even today, all the time, whispering to me.
You’re still mine and I know you’ll come back.