Mark and I Became Robots, 1975

In or around the third grade, perhaps sooner, my friend Mark had come to my house. This would have been around 1975. We played at something in the basement, I have no idea what, but my mother at some point had come downstairs with a plate of apple slices for us to have as snacks. This seems to have been the catalyst for what happened. I and Mark took a slice of apple each and bit into them. A moment later, we found ourselves standing at opposite corners of the basement recreation room, and between us there had formed a tunnel of swirling gray vapors. As if enacting the movements of a pre-determined ritual, the two of us walked toward each other. I remember Mark’s face, very clearly, as being utterly neutral – he had no expression whatever. I felt my own face to be as blank as his. Our movements were automatic, almost robotic. That is not to say that we acted or moved machine-like, but that our movements seemed necessary and precise, executed without consideration, neither with hesitation nor hurriedly. As we approached each other, there was nothing visible to me except for Mark’s blank face. Everything else was enfolded in the gray mist. As we got to within some few yards of each other, we both simultaneously rose up by an inch or two – we weren’t floating; it seemed rather that we had stepped onto adjoining ramps, leading to a slightly raised platform. There had been no such platform on the carpeted cement floor a moment earlier, and I couldn’t actually see that there was one now, but neither could I look down, nor could I see anything beyond the perimeter of the fog-tunnel and Mark’s face approaching mine through it. Yet we had both been lifted up slightly, and I now walked on something solid. We passed each other – Mark to my right side as I was to his – both staring straight ahead, and once past, we returned to the floor, descending that same “ramp” the other had stepped previously up. The fog disappeared. We returned to whatever it was that we’d been doing. My mother, who’d taken a seat at one corner of the room, had sat there throughout this whole exchange and was still there. She had no reaction whatever, in fact no expression on her face at all – much the same as both Mark and myself. I don’t remember anything that happened immediately after that. By the fourth grade Mark and I weren’t friends any longer, though, and I have no recollection of what actually came between us to cause a rift.