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We were sitting on the stairs in the football ground. It was a cold night and during this time of the year there was no one else nearby. Alex was busy making the next batch of joints while I was busy finishing the one that I had. I remembered my last experience and felt my heart rate increase, but I willed myself not to think about it. Instead I thought about death. I had thought that I was dying the last time but obviously it wasn’t death. I tried to imagine what it would be like to actually die. The cold wind started blowing harder at that thought and I wrapped myself tighter in my thin jacket and looked at Alex.
“Have you ever thought about death.” I asked.
He was busy filling up the last cigarette and didn’t speak till he was done.
“What’s there to think about?” he asked as he lit the joint he had just prepared.
“You know. What it would be like to die, life after death and all that stuff.”
He looked straight into my eyes and smiled his evil smile. The faint light of the full moon made his face look a colourless grey like a corpse. The smoke rising from his joint added to the effect. I knew he would take his time before answering. I tried to be patient but I also knew that I would get irritated much before he spoke.
“There is no life after death. When you die you die. You decompose and become worm food.”
I waited for more. I knew there would be more. He took another drag and then looked back at me.
“There is no mystery in death. Don’t worry about how it would feel to die because you won’t feel anything after you’re dead. You will feel a lot of pain before you die. Everybody does. Everybody is scared of dying.”
I thought about it for a moment. I mean I tried to think about it. It was hard to concentrate out in the open with the cold wind blowing and mosquitoes buzzing over my head. The night was not dark and there was a lot of light coming on the stairs from the swimming pool behind the wall but still I felt scared. The cold and the white light of the full moon had made things eerie. I wrapped my thin jacket tighter around myself and took another drag. ‘Everybody is scared of dying’, he had said. I wondered if it was true.
Alex was sitting with his back resting against the wall now. I realised he had been watching me for a long time. He had been watching me think about what he had said and he was smiling. He always enjoyed when he confused me with his pseudointellectual bullshit like this.
“How do you know what really happens after death?” I said. “How can you be so sure that you are right? Maybe there is a life after death. How can anyone be sure about it either way?”
As his face was in the shadow of the wall now so I can’t be sure about this but I think I saw his smile get even wider now. He took a drag from his joint and the burning embers gave a demonic red glow to his face. He took a puff and held the smoke in. He said “I’m glad you asked Rob” and let the smoke out through his nose.
He really looked like a demon tonight with the white light of the full moon. I was wondering what he was going to say next. I knew he would take his time before saying anything. I was sure he was going to say that he was one of the undead or something frightening like that. He finished the last joint and got up, grabbed my arm and said “come on.”
He dragged me across the ground to the boundary wall of the college. We walked along the wall towards the faculty quarters for a while. I wanted to ask him what he was up to now but couldn’t for some reason. We came to a tree near the wall. He climbed on the tree and jumped to the other side near the train tracks. I thought I knew all the secret ways to get out of our campus but as it turned out I had never known about this one. It took me a long time to climb over the tree. Alex was waiting on the other side.
“Come on jump.” He said.
“First you tell me where are we going?”
“We are going to experience death. That is the only way to know for sure whether you are right or me.” He said and walked over to the track and sat between the rails and smiled at me while gesturing me to come over.
I knew he was crazy but I didn’t think he was suicidal. I jumped from the tree still not sure about what was happening. I tried to remember at what time the last train went over the tracks. Then I realised there was no use remembering as I had no idea what time it is anyway. I got down and made my way towards him.
“Come on man this is not funny.”
“What? You wanted to find out who was right. This is the only way.” He grabbed my hand and said “come sit.”
“Alex I don’t want to find anything out. Come on let’s go.”
That’s when I heard the train coming. Suddenly I was completely sober. I looked at Alex and it looked like he was serious. He was still holding on to my arm. I tried to pull him off the track but I couldn’t move him. The train was visible now and it was heading straight for us.
“Alex!!” I screamed. “You were right okay. I accept it. Now get up!!” I was screaming very loudly now. Alex got up but didn’t get off the track and didn’t let go off my hand either. He was laughing out loud now. I tried to pull him off but he was too strong. He was totally white under the full moon. I realised my fear had been right. He was not just a demon he was the devil himself and he wanted to take me to hell with him. Then suddenly the train blew its horn and it broke the spell. I saw him in the light of the train and realised he was just a human. I pulled with all my might and he came off the track seconds before the train crossed us. We fell in the mud next to the track. He was still laughing. I wanted to scream like hell at him. I wanted to beat him to death. But instead I started laughing as well. The rhythmic noise of the train died in the background as our laughter got louder. And just like that we were flying higher than marijuana had ever taken us.