Red Pill, Blue Pill, Purp

OJ Patterson, contributor

The cylinder’s milky smoke evaporated into a spike, jabbing, piercing, probing until Neo found himself in an all white room. Only two beat-up armchairs and an old timey television in “middle” of the “room” interrupted the emptiness.

“This is the Construct,” announced Morpheus, stepping from behind a cloud of smoke. “It’s our loading program. We can load anything from ideas to images to philosophies, arguments, hypotheticals, anything we can imagine.”

“Right now, we’re in an altered state?” Neo wavered.

“Is it really so hard to believe? Your clothes feel different. Your memory and sense of time are gone. Your appearance is different.”

Neo did appear different, looking in a mirror, don’t look in the mirror. Bad idea, bad idea, don’t freak out, is anyone noticing that I’m freaking out? Naw, yeah but naw. Eyes closed, Neo grazed the nearby chair with his finger.

“This isn’t real?” Neo caressed the cracked leather for dear life.

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. And those signals can be scrambled.”

Neo nodded sheepishly, pretending to get it while just trying to find solace by sitting in the armchair.

“Here is the world you remember,” Morpheus, now also lounging, declared as the 21st Century slideshow flickered on the television. “Back when humans collectively marveled at its highest achievement, synthetic marijuana, a singular entity the manifested an entire race of sentient plants. Now it only serves a facade, a haze we call ‘Weed’. Check this shit out.”

Instantly, Neo’s little white surroundings erupted with overflowing plant life rippling through urban decay, like those images of Detroit’s ruins with a few more centuries on top. “This is the world as it is now. Welcome to “The Grow.” Neo grinned with false chill to the out-of-control horror. Like when somebody smokes you out or buys you shits and is like, “Wanna see my guns?” and you play along in absolute terror. Morpheus’ power point presentation was more along the lines of showing an armada of nukes to someone on acid. Also, Morpheus had an actual gun that wasn’t real anyway, soooooo….

“We don’t remember who struck first, but it was us who blackened the sky.” Above bubbled the thickest, darkest, inhuman, inhumane and immobile in its persistent, paradoxical moving-yet-stagnant smoke cloud. The Eternal Rip.

“At the time they were dependent on photosynthesis and it was thought that weed couldn’t survive without an energy source as abundant as the Sun. Humans have always relied on agriculture to facilitate society, base their laws and hierarchies on land, control, energy. Fate, it seems, is not without its irony.”

Morpheus changed the channel to reveal endless rows and rows of green. Surrounded by that green was an equally abundant amount of grow lights. Connected to those grow lights were generators. Attached to those generators were leafy placentas. In those cradles: humans, intravenously tethered by vines to provide all the energy and carbon dioxide a plant could ever need.

“For the longest time I could believe it,” continued Morpheus, a joint burning in his fingers for effect, “until I saw the fields. Watched them cash out the bodies to fertilize the soil. Standing there, facing the pure, organic cycle, I came to realize the obvious truth.” Neo could only hide his face in his jacket, too high to even give the impression of being on the level.

“What is weed? A plant. Weed is a naturally occurring dreamworld to keep us lethargic, hungry, and eventually dead in order to change a human being into this.” Morpheus lifted, between his thumb and index finger, the frostiest nug.

“No!” yelled Neo. “No! I don’t believe it! I want out! I want out!” But he couldn’t get back to the clarity of his senses, the lucidity of sobriety. Weed doesn’t work like that. There’s no toggle for being miserably too gone. Neo just had to ride that shit out.

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