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Showcase Sunday: A Journey of Incarnations (Short Story)


8 months agoBusy17 min read

Image by Santiago Estela from Pixabay edited by me using GIMP

A surreal tale of amnesia, murder and psychedelic excesses...

Is how I would describe this short story. I first started this series - which ended up stretching to just shy of 3000 words in length - as an experiment to see if I could create an ongoing fiction using the prompts from the 5 minute freewriting initiative.

As the weeks stretched on I ended up writing ten parts describing the strange and wonderful psychedelic adventures of Ash. But who was this character based on? Does it have any basis in real life? Truth is stranger than fiction they say and I couldn't possibly comment on any elements of this story being based on real life experience 😉

But lets get Full-on 'book jacket' as this is showcase Sunday - great idea btw @nonameslefttouse.

'A Journey of Incarnations' is a surreal miasma of stream-of-consciousness writing. Follow Ash's inner journeying as he struggles to remember who he is and where the last few days have gone. Flash backs, flash forwards and cosmic wanderings slowly paint a picture of drug excesses, lost time and lost innocence.

So, without further to-do, lets get into the story. I hope you enjoy.


Incarnation - Prompt: Tiger (part 1)

The low scrub of the forest opened out a little as I sniffed the air in the afternoon swelter. The soft hoots of sleepy Macaque settled my mind as the crickets song waned to an occasional chirrup. The musk from the rutting Neelgai inflamed my nostrils as my mind raced with the thought of blood, the quiet stalk and then the wrestle of muscle and sinew. I sniffed the scratch and smear of fur, mingling with the sensual bark of the sandalwood tree. She was close, the woods hummed with her scent as I dropped my belly to the earth and the trees gave way to the sedge meadow. Flies buzzed around my eyes and jowls as I yawned the afternoon heat.

Sudden loud, braying sounds of human voices invaded my focus. Right in the path of the prey scent. The meadow shimmered in heat waves, as the two humans grazed the grass like monkeys foraging. One was bent over, back offered up in supplication. I stalked, belly tickled by the blades of sedge, raising a sweet scent all around while the pump of blood focused my mind like an arrow.

Orange-black streaking muscle hit me hard in the throat as Aasa shrieked a high pitch wail and the soft hoots of the Macaque broke into hullabaloo, marking the tiger's attack. I wrestled to grab hold of the tiger's forelegs but the maw clamped down on me. Agony shot burning pulses as my head bent unnaturally and, half upside down, I saw Aasa tearing away through the grass to reach the path at the edge of the clearing. Oblivion beckoned now, as the tiger crunched through bone, embracing me tightly, closing me down at the throat. The world flashed on and off.

I saw my face, flop limply to the ground as the prey was dropped. Smelled the copper blood as I licked my jowls and bent my head to pick up the meat by the broken neck. Fierce thumping heartbeat struck a rhythm in my head as the predator's victory song wound its way through every fiber of my being and I watched a crimson stream trickle between bulging eyes. Life infused me, I would eat tonight.

© Rowan Joyce 28/03/2018

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Awakening - Prompt: Yellow (part 2)

Yellow light spattered the inside of my eyelids as consciousness dawned in my drained body. I opened my eyes slowly. The sun settled on the horizon like an orange hanging from the sky, ripe with the excesses of the day. An eye of fire winking in the hazy daze of the day's end. I peeked to the side through my sunglasses and memory seeped back as I stared at Isabella. She looked amazing in that bikini, she eclipsed the sun with her dazzle and I felt the previous nights excesses as a dull ache in my swim shorts.

That predator's hunger, an aching delight in my belly, lingered as the ghost of the memory of the blood coursed its way through me. An image flashed before my mind's eye - ripping my own face to pieces with powerful jaws, saliva mingling with blood in pink foam. What a fucking mental dream. I looked at the foam-flecked waves, I blame last nights mojitos and the myriad of recreational chemicals consumed. Only two hours of sleep, my head felt fuzzy and everything ached. I sat up. The beach stretched away, a crystal white ribbon calling me to full wakefulness.

Where am I?

Who am I?

© Rowan Joyce 29/03/2018


Robbed Time - Prompt: Ash (part 3)

"What do you mean baby? You don't know who you are, that's fucked up."
Her eyebrows arched as she looked at me, those umber eyes drank my soul away. I couldn't handle how much I wanted her right now.

"Just what I say, I don't even know where we are right now."

"What did you take?" Her hand came to rest on my arm, burning like fire, like sunburn in a cool sea or a pill hitting the back of the throat.

"We're in Acapulco hunny. You know what my name is right?" Brown eyes flashed, as she pulled away.

"Yeah, of course, Isabella." I lent into her and kissed her. Breasts cushioned the beat of our hearts, muffling the rib-cage speakers, a bass line running a synchronous Rubato.

I disentangled myself from her and pleaded with her, the blue of my eyes reflecting in her pupils. Where had this robbed time gone?

"And my name?" She looked at me incredulously.

"Your name is Ash." She hunched up regarding me sidelong. "You're the DJ at Mojito discotheque, you honestly don't remember?"

© Rowan Joyce 30/03/2018

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Time Lapse - Prompt: Record (part 4)

Memory sluiced against the walls of my consciousness, eroding my synapses and seeping through the cracks.

A record span around the turntable as the music thumped the pumping beat of the funky house that I always used to bring the crowd to a peak. The music built to a crescendo as I twisted my lips in that grimace of pure unleashed endorphins, my eyes raging at the sky as the lasers split the night into two halves.

Time slowed as my hands automatically pulled the record back while twitching the crossfader. One half of the crowd seemed to be dancing hyper-speed as the beat slowed up. The other half stuttering as I pulled the music back up to breakneck, finally catching up to the other half of the room.

Red smoke spat from the smoke machines below my booth and I watched tendril fingers reach out into the crowd and caress dancers to the rhythm of the music. Each finger of smoke an extension of my consciousness as I shuddered in pleasure and the acid worked its way through this time-lapse. Everything halted in a perfect moment of stillness, empty of intention, timeless. My perception looped in endless beats of swelling light then the music washed into my mind like gentle waves over sand at the tide-line.

© Rowan Joyce 02/04/2018


Echoes of the Cosmos - Prompt: Coconut (part 5)

I stared at the water washing up towards my toes. Fingers of white foam-speckled sea formed an endless pattern along the line of the tide. Like a soundwave repeating a beat, wiped away in the wash, only to thrum back into the canvas of sand, changed but endless in its cycle.

“Here baby, drink this.”

Isabella handed me a coconut, top sliced off. I stared at it. It felt like my head was that coconut, the thoughts sliding out of me, sucked up into the sky in a vacuum, emptying me out. I put the coconut to my lips and drank. It tasted like sunlight on palm leaves, my body ached for the vitamins in this vessel of nectar.

"Better?" Isabella eyed me from over her sunglasses. "We gotta go hunny, the sun is almost down."

“Ok, let's get gone then.”

I stood and felt an energy building inside me, like the sky was pulling me up from the string of my spine. Lifting me like the puppeteer, a concertina of muscles all lithe motion of movement as we set off down the beach. The sun cast a smear of blood across the silver pulsing sand. A lone hermit crab serenaded the sea.

Fly me to the moon, fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars. Weather wise it's such a lovely day Just say the words, and we'll beat the birds Down to Acapulco bay

The Hermit’s song echoed across the cosmos as the tide gathered silver and ate up the beach, slinking towards the Sinatra crab.

Down to Acapulco bay

“I think I’m still tripping.”

My words slurred outwards to merge with the music and I felt a liquid shiver of pleasure down my back. I looked at Isabella, her hand resting tenderly on my neck.

“You do remember.”

© Rowan Joyce 04/04/2018


Taking Flight - Prompt: Describe a Bird (part 6)
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The breath of slipstream dreams cushioned wings as the horizon dipped with the dive. The darkening ocean rushing in a pattern of glittering red pin-pricks, a still expression of motion. A dappled carpet of endless sea.

I banked to the right, an itching knowing of the air through each gossamer feather's strand teased me as a strip of dull silver elongated from my periphery into plain sight. The towers of man hove into view in the night, shadows with tiny golden eyes, glaring mans tamed sunlight to blind me.

I plummeted; break-neck, pressure in sinuses as the ground reared at me in a spinning kaleidoscope of light. Tiny figures merged from the deepening twilight, wandering here and there among the dark scavengers field. Dimly perceived as the sunset slaked its thirst, and then satiated, returned to the earth.

I flinched instinctively as the seagull bombed over our heads, screeching as it alighted on the trash can. Its feathers fluttered in the warm breeze as Isabella nestled under my arm shivering slightly.

"What happened, baby?" She squeezed me tighter toward her side. "You lost your balance for a second then."

© Rowan Joyce 05/04/2018

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Spectator to Memory - Prompt: Document (part 7)

We wandered down the street in the deepening dark as the sun faded. Its final glow from the horizon kissing the night a farewell, like a lost lover remembered in thought. Isabella's warmth inflamed me in the sultry heat of the Mexican night, I pulled her close and kissed her as flashbacks trickled into my mind in teardrops buzzing memory. Like a kiss from god or a mini-orgasm in my frontal cortex, this shit was getting beyond a joke now, when will it stop?

A memory sluiced over me, pulling me away from the kiss.

Brief flashes of white lines on a mirrored surface. A mustachioed face with dark eyes and a grin a mile wide.

"So that is good shit Amigo, yes? You said you could take a kilo across to Cuba by you're friend in Cancun right?"

"No, Alberto, I didn't say anything like that. You're putting these words in my mouth - In my mind." I blinked my eyes, trying to regain myself from the numbing flow of the cocaine. A fierce heat rose in my head as I tasted blood and the face of a tiger flashed through my mind. "I don't remember agreeing to any of this and my friend in Cancun won't have anything moving through his business."

The man with the smile cut a hand across his throat to shut me up, the smile disappearing with the gesture. "We have your documents. What the fuck do you think you'll do without them gringo? Where are you going to go."

I watched myself talking. Like I was riding in my own mind. A spectator to a film without end. "I don't give a shit Alberto. You kill me now if you have to bro, I'm not going anywhere. I have my girl, my job, everything I need here. Why would I risk it? Throw my documents into the sea for all I care. Go on, do your worst."

Alberto narrowed his eyes as he leaned back in his chair. The clubs music rose loud around us, lasers tracking lines of light through the smoke as he stared at me and then shook his head, laughing. "Ok, ok... maybe we can arrange another way Ash."

© Rowan Joyce 17/04/2018


Tasteless Claret - Prompt: Red Wine (part 8)

I looked at him as I swiveled the glass in my hand by its stem. Alberto was all leather skin and bristle. His brow was lined with a multitude of hard wrinkles, tension taught skin between the ravaged scars born of past murders. His sleepless dark eyes twinkled above that perpetual grin and he reached out to grab his glass of red wine and swilled the contents, mimicking my movements.

"Another way, sure we can arrange something else Ash. Just let me think about it." He stroked that bog-brush mustache before taking a long swallow of the claret and topping up the glass from the bottle. "What about Adam, amigo? Do you think he would be interested in a run to Europe?"

"Now come on Alberto, he's as soft as putty." I started to rise but he motioned me with one hand to sit, the other hand emerging from his coat pocket and depositing a Ballester pistol in his lap.

An image flashed across my synapses. A tiger ripping my own face apart. Blood flowing between my bulging eyes as long fangs sunk into pallid cheeks. My head throbbed in time to the beat of the music and I massaged my temples as I sat back down carefully.

Alberto laughed as I stared at him. His smile stretched impossibly wide, teeth shining luminous in the reflected glare of the laser's light. Lizard eyes flashed at me from beneath his bushy brows and his skin folded in on itself to eat up the features on his face. I shook my head.

Everything snapped back to normality as I stared at the bottle on the table.

Alberto stopped laughing. "Wine hombre? Not only red wine my friend, have you ever tried mescaline? I love that shit but I'm guessing you haven't got the stomach for it Ash. I put a whole dropper of that stuff in there. Now we gonna trip together my friend, and we'll come to some arrangement by the end of the night. Count on it!"

The red wine swirled in my glass. I saw a barmaid approaching through the bloody swirls of claret.

© Rowan Joyce 19/04/2018


The Final Nail in the Coffin - Prompt: Nail (part 9)

Alberto draped his arm over my shoulder as he ushered me out on to the deserted VIP terrace overlooking the ocean. The tide was high, lapping the shoreline like a lizard tasting the air to keep cool. Those eyes flashed slits of black emptiness again, tight slats of reptilian ichor draining my soul with the ageless divinity of death.

"I have this problem mi hombre". He hissed mingling with the breeze as it faded out like the transition between dreams. "We need someone to move the shit and it has to be someone white, hombre. I can't do it!"

His laugh stretched into the night, long melodious deep barreling waves of sound. The chirrup of crickets kept time with the background of the music humming from the club. That laugh concertinaed through the warm evening, a baseline modulated by the light of the moon.


Alberto slammed his hand down on the edge of the balcony. Slam, slam, slam three times like nails being hammered into a coffin. "What's it to be then Ash?"

I stared down at the waves caressing the wall of the club, lights from the hotels in the bay cast modular crescents of color across the sea. El Nino had swollen the ocean with life, like a pregnant cat languishing in the heat. Poseidon taking a deep breath before the plunge. A tiger flashed across the sky, sleek stripped rivulet of stars leaping from sea and heaven to plunge down into me, filling me up with the heat of El Nino.

My elbow hit Alberto in the jaw as his hands flew up fast and practiced to my throat. Heat pumped through me like liquid mana, I was sleek death faster than this prey. My hand flew to his belt, automatic, as it grabbed the semi-automatic pistol and pushed it up under his chin. Those lizard eyes flashed mirth at me, mocking, unbelieving. The tiger responded, as the pain of a knee to my balls lit up the night in bright flashes of pain and the muzzle flash sprayed a bloody fountain of claret across the face of the moon.

He went up and over the balcony, landing in the lap of the oceans shallow waves. He lay under shimmering stars, haloed in bioluminescence from the tickle of the tide. Kissed by phytoplankton, silhouetted by the breath of El Nino.

© Rowan Joyce 24/04/2018


Transcendent Mingling - Prompt: 'Title Picture' (concluding part)
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A lone gull wheeled through the shimmering night, banking over the glow of the lapping waves to alight on the rail of the balcony. At that moment I faded into the dream of life that had taken hold of me. Felt the wind whistle through trailing feathers, ascending in flights of singing thermals of the night's warm eddies.

I felt the clamp of maw on yielding flesh, sweet blood thumping in my head, sexual in its immediacy. The crunch of bones, the power of sinew and fur enfolding me.

I felt the warmth of Isabella's hand in mine as we slipped off the road beneath a tree, her lithe limbs enticing me with their dance. The smell of tropical earth, moist and cloying, Gaia's sweat in lush fecundity.

Each moment painted on a canvas in waves of building pressure. I burst free of myself, tearing into the sky like a meteor returned to the heavens, living all these experiences in the same moment. Pure perception, in a multi-faceted mirror reflecting the stars. I stared down at Gaia's glowing face, haloed by her atmospheric skin and I wept at her beauty. Suspended outside of time memories mingled like paint on an easel, changing the composition of everything before transcending into something new.

© Rowan Joyce 25/04/2018

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All parts in this series were inspired by the prompt words in @mariannewest 5 minute freewrite writers prompts. The prompt in the concluding part was the title picture, created by the very talented @loliboofae, daughter of @byn. If you have enjoyed reading about Ash's psychedelic adventures please do check out my other work on my homepage @raj808 All pictures used in this post are creative commons and can be verified by following these links to the original posts.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

Thanks for reading.

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