Chapter 32 – Addiction
Upon unearthing that fine piece of metal, I was inundated with a myriad of memories. The history of my people truly began with the discovery of metal, such that all eras before it were lumped together as something occurring before history. The Age of Stone would come to an end, and then the Age of Metal would begin. From protective outfittings to great structures that touched the sky, metal was the beginning of it all.
I looked towards the volcano and once again remembered the Eyes of the Hills. They had unsettled me and made me fearful, but perhaps with metal I could protect my lizards from whatever it was that frightened me. I could only hope so.
After a bit more scouting around the lava flow trails, they found a few more pieces of ‘shining rock’, as they had come to name it, though none so pristine as the first. They collected them out of the black rock, eager to take their spoils back to the colony for the others to wonder at. The lava had done what I had yet to teach my lizards, turning raw ore into metal. No doubt the extreme heat of the earth’s lifeblood had smelted many such beautiful pieces as it ravaged the land. But they could not simply rely on nature to refine the raw ore, they must learn how to create it for themselves.
Although the expedition hadn’t turned up any pockets of livable space, they were satisfied with the spoils they would bring home. Over the next few days it took for them to make their trek back to the river, I pondered how to give them the knowledge. I let my consciousness drift through the members of the expedition, feeling their connections to their Quick Springs and to each other, let the beating of their hearts lull me into a waking sleep.
For moments at a time, I experienced the world as they did, the sounds, the sights, the smells, even the taste of the wind as it blew by. I especially relished the sensation of smell and taste, and most importantly, touch. They were feelings I lacked but in my own memories, and those paled in comparison to the real thing.
Since I had merged with the Thrill Seeker during his time of taming the wild beast, it had been a common practice for me to flit through the hearts of my lizards, living vicariously through them. I did not realize just how much I had missed the senses I lacked. It left dull ache every time I detached myself after indulging. It was like a drug, and I was thoroughly addicted. I did have my connection to the earth itself, but the nostalgia invoked from connecting to my lizards was incomparable. It was like trying to compare a plant to an animal; though they shared the same fundamental ability to live, die, feed, and breed, little else was similar.
I wanted to drown myself in the sensations of my lizards. But if I let myself sink completely in, I was certain I would never resurface. It was an appealing end, one I now often contemplated pursuing. To let myself simply dissolve into them, leaving no trace of myself but for their family heart…
It was a very selfish feeling. I knew it was selfish, yet I couldn’t stop myself from staying just a little longer, wanting to have just a little more. I knew all the reasons I should stop, but those logical thoughts were often bypassed as I sought to let the feelings of reality wash over me. I told myself it would be fine as long as I didn’t let it get out of control.
But maybe it was already out of control.
The downward spiral had caught me once again, and it was entirely of my own making. The longer it perpetuated, the further down I went. Even so, I felt I could stop at any time, I just didn’t want to. Even if I knew it was a lie, I desperately wanted to believe it, because if I did not, I wouldn’t be able to let myself indulge anymore.
Just like an animal needs to eat, I felt a new need created within me that desired to experience all my lost sensations. It was a hunger that ate away at me. Every moment I did not indulge it, I thought about it, whether it was in the back of my mind or the forefront of my thoughts. And the longer I went without it, the louder the need became, the more I hungered for it.
…I had let my lizards become my addiction, and I used them to fulfill it. I felt guilty using them in such a way; they didn’t even have the ability to refuse as I escaped inside their skin. For every touch they felt and sound they heard, I felt ashamed of myself, yet at the same time I relished in it. It was at once both blissful and remorseful; it was as if the beautiful chorus of living life slowly became a saddening elegy. Still, I always wanted more, even if it hurt me, even if it was wrong, I needed it. I felt like I might break apart without it. I no longer knew if I could be content with just existing anymore without the feeling of living.
And then I suddenly realized my need had eclipsed my ability to overcome it. While deluding myself in physical sensation and lies, I had passed the event horizon; I could no longer escape.
And even worse, I didn’t want to.