Tower of Shrimp: The Ketamine Chronicles (Part 13)

This ketamine infusion features a crime scene, a tower of shrimp, and a painting of a carnivorous giraffe. Folks, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

I remember feeling it almost immediately, and I closed my eyes as I lost track of my limbs. The music I was listening to was a lively classical piece, and my mind created intersecting lines to the notes that formed long evolutionary trees. There were noises around me that distracted me at first; something that sounded like hammering from the floor above us, then quiet conversation in the room, and a door opening and closing. Soon, though, the ketamine pulled me away, and I wasn’t concerned with anything outside my mind.

Silhouettes of a human face and a bull in profile, carefully stretched-out tape measures arranged in rows, and thousands of old family photos being sent on a conveyor belt to be turned into decorative pebbles were just some of the odd things I saw this time.

The crime scene was set in an arid landscape; there were shrubby bushes and reddish-brown caked dirt as far as the eye could see. Two or three people stood around a small body of water- what seemed like the only one for miles and miles. I got the sense that they were pondering something, as a detective would do when a puzzling scene presents itself. As I tried to read more of the scenario, my perspective began to shift. I zoomed out smoothly but quickly, like I had scrolled down on Google Maps with intention. Perhaps I’ve been watching too many police procedurals and true crime shows lately.

The shrimp tower stretched higher and higher, eventually reaching the edge of the atmosphere. The singular shrimp at the very top swayed back and forth, pondering the shrimps holding it aloft and balancing in the wind. Each shrimp interlocked with the shrimp around it, like that barrel of monkeys in Toy Story. I don’t know if you know this, but the sensation of perching on top of a stack of shrimps that stretches all the way to the edge of the atmosphere produces some stomach-dropping vertigo. If you’ve ever read the Dr. Seuss Book, Yertle the Turtle, the shrimp tower may remind you of that. Instead of an incredibly arrogant shrimp forcing the others to form the tower so that it could sit at the top, this was the reverse. The top shrimp wasn’t entirely sure how it got there and was not very comfortable with it.

There are some interesting parts of my infusions that seem to blend my identity with strange scenarios and characters. For instance, how did I know that the shrimp at the top of the tower didn’t know how it got there? Was I the shrimp? Similarly, the funeral scene in my seventh ketamine infusion also evoked a sudden understanding. I was watching the scene, but when the coffin was set down, I felt like I was being pressed into the ground. Was I watching, or was I in the coffin?

The day before this ketamine infusion, my aunt and I did one of those paint-n-sip classes. The painting to emulate was a cute, cartoonish giraffe with multi-colored spots. We noticed that there were two kids in the back who had really taken their paintings to the next level. Their giraffes had blood-red eyes, thick, metal earrings, and gaping smiles filled with pointed teeth. One also had thick blue stripes rather than spots, but that’s neither here nor there. We got a big kick out of these kids’ creativity and confidence to go off-book. They seemed proud of their paintings, and we thought they were awesome.

Imagine that painting in the style of a ten year old’s artistic skills, and then imagine how taken aback I was when a dark silhouette in my ketamine dream revealed itself to have that giraffe face. It was both unsettling and hilarious at the same time.

After the carnivorous giraffe, my brain may have opened the door to where the creepy images are held because I remember seeing dark forms standing over me, laughing. Thankfully, something in the room beeped, and I reoriented myself to my surroundings. That was probably the most disturbing thing I’ve experienced during a ketamine infusion, and even that was not bad. I knew that it was creepy but didn’t feel especially scared.

Most of the time, I just see bizarre scenes like the tower of shrimp, marvel at how much my teeth feel like stale marshmallows, and wonder if I’m slowly tilting in one direction or another.


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