The Stoned Ape (Fiction Winner, Lee County Aspiring Authors Contest)


Mushroom by Julie Oliviera Cook

Julie Oliveira Cook

The Stoned Ape
Note:  This is based on the anthropological Stoned Ape Theory by Terence McKenna.

It was a quiet day except for the singing of the male cicadas. A shuffling heard emerged from the dried-out bushwillow. As Hava went to investigate it, her mother called for her in an incomprehensible screech. So, she left it alone.

This family of three upright primates continued journeying north on the grassland plains of Africa. This was 1.9 million years ago. Hava’s mother knew it was midday, as the Earth’s sun was perfectly centered in the almost blinding bright blue skies, beaming bright rays of sunshine onto the vast ocherous plains.

Hava’s parents were the first generation of bipedalism after the great ape migration out of the deforesting tropical jungles, once full of resources for survival, now scarce. Hava’s exceptional kinesthesia has acclimated her incessant prowl through the land, scavenging for food under the boiling hot sun.

Her fur was thinner in this sparse savanna, unlike the thicker fur of her ancestors who cohabitated in the luscious dark green biome. As her eyeballs attempted to scrutinize the surrounding terrain for food, dark figures in the distant north caught her attention. She squeaked in a low-pitch and gestured for her family to move along that way.

Approaching the moving figures, they encountered a new species they’ve never been in contact with before: bos primigenius, the Aurochs cattle. The father extended his burly right arm, motioning for Hava and the mother to stay put as he investigated this novel creature.

Stubborn and impulsive, Hava quickly scurried under the bovine, as she had noticed a stench coming from underneath it: dung. Some edible insects were crawling in and around it, but most curiously, unfamiliar fungi were growing in it. It was a mushroom called psilocybe cubensis.

All three figures’ eyes gazed upon each other, wondering just what to do. Well, they all ate it.

About an hour after ingestion, Hava felt a sudden tsunami of anxiety wash over her. Her vision was more acute than ever, and her hearing capabilities had surpassed to levels of extremity; it’s as if she could hear the tiny ants rambling through the dirt. But that may just have been the auditory enhancements that this magical mushroom induces, little did Hava know.

Her parents began to look unrecognizable, morphing into novel people. There were colorful feather tiaras on their heads, beads, and eccentric fabrics wrapped around their bodies, only covering them partly. It appeared that she was amidst a rowdy congregation of sorts. All were chanting monosyllabic hums while others aggressively, yet passionately, in a trance, beat on wooden sticks and hand-made drums. Hava caught herself vocalizing with the people, an evolutionarily developed ability she had never fathomed before, chanting and humming along, out of her own control; she was one of them, one with them, one with the experience.

Lost in the crowd, she became aware that she had not seen her parents in what seemed like to be hours, or days, or weeks, or who knows. But the thought quickly vaporized out of her conscious mind field, and her ocular perception was being blissfully guided by the vocalizations and entrancing beats from this indigenous custom.

The location changed, that’s for sure, concluded Hava. She was now a human in the 6th century B.C. Middle East, in an area roughly amidst Amu Darya and Syr Darya, where a small tribal civilization named Sogdiana resided—the gatherers in the entheogenic ritual.

Distant constellations scintillated in the evening Mediterranean skies, yet dimmed by the surrounding torches that illuminated the soon-to-befall eerie night darkness.

One of the Sogdians in the outer circle began rubbing two pieces of bark wood together to spark a fire in the middle of the ceremony. The Shaman arose from his seat, made out of hemp, wood, and feathers, uttered a couple of incomprehensible syllables to the person next to him, beginning to call one by one to take a chug of this thick, twiggy, musky, transparent-sage colored drink, locally known as soma, containing an ancient, clandestine mystical ingredient. Now, it was Hava’s turn. Anxiously and hesitantly, with her eyes closed, she downed it.

Imminently, her mind flooded with awe-inspiring novelty, muddled by the incoming stimuli; her brain’s perceptual speed had increased and her cognitive functions advanced, in this life. Foggy flashbacks of her youth sprung into mind. She saw apparitions of her father meeting with her mother among the first bipedals in the not-yet-completely-deserted continent; they still had vague non-semantic memories of the once idyllic Garden of Eden, the African Paradise. They flowed out of memory, like a river down a stream, and past familiar faces expressing a spectrum of emotions surfaced her fluid thoughts. She dimly envisioned her conception, aboard the embryonic journey.

To her mind this previously unknown clarity of the past, was just a retrospective falsification; a hope for understanding all of life in a solution of events.

Yet, it was all transient, as when she opened her eyes she physically emanated in another era again. The year was 1973 of the Common Era. It was clearer each time, opening the gates of her eyes, her mind’s eye, materializing in a new stage of evolution, a new reincarnation with a distinguished understanding of consciousness.

Except… this vision of nature’s gracefulness she first beheld quickly zoomed out of a picture-frame—a fraction of time frozen in solid form; how could this be? There was a square opening in the walls of what appeared to be a cube-shaped enclosure, a barrier from the outside world.  She walked over and gazed with childlike wonder at the scenery outside: what she once knew Earth to be, this paradisiacal garden filled with multifarious symbiotic life forms, was slowly turning into a concrete jungle.

She felt the arcane ways of living and interacting with the Earth, the cosmos, and the subconscious, had been buried under the physical constructs of the domineering ego culture.

Having felt the pain of all living beings’ torment within her, she had awakened, longing to reclaim her mind and return to the garden.