It is curious that the night it started, I had awakened in the middle of the darkest hours for no reason I can readily discern. A sheen of sweat was on my forehead, my sheets damp, although the night was cool and the window open. My dog chose that moment to howl forlornly in the yard. It was a new moon, giving no dim light through the window, and I got out of bed and wandered to the kitchen in search of a soporific cookie and a glass of milk.
Refreshed and not yet ready to return to my bed, I wandered into my office and saw the red light on my answering machine blinking. I activated my computer by nudging the mouse and as the screen lit enough to give me some light, I noticed the time was 4:14 as I punched my answering machine. It was Luther.
For some reason his voice was hushed on the thin tape, unlike him. "You've got to know about this, man," he murmured. "I've found it... the Grail." I distinctly heard a hiccup. "The wassabe margarita, man... it works." I heard a weird whine in the background, something odd and out of place. An eldrich, keening wind. I felt a coldness in my room, and a shiver passed through me as I sat in the dark room. "I'm going to drink the whole thing," his voice on the machine whispered, "right now."
I heard him breathing, an uneven gasping for air not like him, and I heard him unmistakably drinking something in audible gulps. Now Luther himself had begun making a noise into my answering machine I cannot describe. A whimpering vocal whine of something like pain, yet in it was also an exaltation, a strangely triumphant squeal of... completion.
And then a dial tone, and the tape stopped, and then began to rewind.
. . .We chopped a hole in his front door at almost 6:00 a.m., his swarthy, untrustworthy landlord and I, who had roused the man with several telephone calls, imploring and relentlessly browbeating him until the man had shown up in front of Luther's apartment down in the chemical zone, angry, but fearing the worst, like me.
Inside we found no one. There was a strange smell in the apartment, like coffee kept hot far too long, or ozone, or a feverish sickroom for cats. A wrong smell. Luther was gone. On his kitchen counter was the recipe, written on a scrap of notebook paper, next to the now-empty blender containing mere drops of the potion which had led to his uncanny transmogrification and preternatural removal from our universe.
I include it here merely as a precaution. Do not do this, I implore you. The unholy recipe included a large amount of wassabi, and horseradish as well as strong Chinese mustard, in combination with a quite large amount of simple citrus ice, and he had blended the icy, frozen concoction such that he experienced brain-freeze at the exact moment the wassabe / horseradish had put Chinese fire into his sinuses!
It's no wonder he is gone. He has left this world, and I am convinced he succeeded in his Faustian quest, and that his atoms dissolved and joined the Microsphere and the Macrosphere in the same fearsome instant. And sometimes I wonder what might I experience if I were to pursue the dangerous course he did: The instant of brain-freeze, as from a margarita or slushee, at the exact moment the Chinese nasal-fire commenced, sent him to his doom, from our view, yet what about from his?????