I've smoked a pipe in just about every environment a being can smoke a pipe. I've smoked on five continents, in rainforests and deserts, on crowded streets and serene beaches, in caves, on mountains, and at sea. My mother claimed that I smoked in the womb, because for days after my birth she erupted in clouds of tobacco flatulence that drove our blinded and gasping cat out a window, I'm told, never again to be seen. My mother must have missed that cat, because we never had another, despite my begging. I've evidently loved cats since birth.
Despite having smoked in the womb, the most unusual place I ever found myself smoking was at the bottom of a fresh grave, at midnight, in the town's spookiest cemetery. Everyone has been in a womb, but few have experienced the fresh earthen walls of an open grave and told the story.
It was named Wrathmire Cemetery, but the locals called it Banshee's Breath because of multiple unsolved disappearances and hideous wailing drifting from the property. None in town would risk a nighttime visit, but I enjoyed smoking there on evening strolls; it was silent except for the wind churring through the trees and accelerating across the open ground, whistling the cold, dispassionate forest air across the graves, interrupted only by tombstones, each emblematic of a life beyond reach.
Despite having smoked in the womb, the most unusual place I ever found myself smoking was at the bottom of a fresh grave, at midnight, in the town's spookiest cemetery.
I felt rather than heard thunder migrating through the earth, and a flash in the distance revealed roiling clouds building. Lightning strobed the perimeter of the cemetery, where two security guards were converging. I slipped closer to listen from the shadows.
"You saw it too?" said the larger of the two.
"Yeah, yer damn right," said the other. "It's gotta be the banshee! I'm outta here!"
"You leave me here alone and I'll tase you in your face, Ed! My wife will disembowel me if I walk off another job. Oh my god, what is wrong with you? You've pissed yourself!"
Ed appeared to be staring past me. He pointed shakily and I turned.
My stomach backflipped as the banshee, reeking of despair and rotten entrails, hovered six feet away. Disfigured and hideous, her eyes reflected the infinite torments of perdition, rimmed in fiery crimson and bulging from her skull, enveloping me in distilled, supernatural hatred. Wisps of ashy hair sprang from moldy tufts on her scalp, and her broken and rotten teeth protruded like shards of obsidian as she erupted in a shriek of marrow-curdling malevolence harbinging the dissolution of all creation.
It was a scream of primordial malignity, bestowing utter hopelessness and irrevocable insanity. I involuntarily jumped straight into the air.
My stomach backflipped as the banshee, reeking of despair and rotten entrails, hovered six feet away. Disfigured and hideous, her eyes reflected the infinite torments of perdition, rimmed in fiery crimson and bulging from her skull, enveloping me in distilled, supernatural hatred.
I landed at the bottom of a fresh grave, the banshee already reaching for me with earth-caked talons, opening wide the tear in dimensional fabric disguised as her maw as she prepared to render a shriek that would usher my soul into the darkest inescapable depths of the lowest circle of Hell.
She was powerful and would certainly have destroyed me, if she'd been my first beast, or if I had a soul. I raised my palm in a stop gesture, freezing the banshee while I lit my pipe. I built some thick smoke and blew it toward her, weaving an incantation of my own invention into the tendrils of Virginia and Perique, which now constricted around her in tightening cables dragging her toward me. She was startled and terrified. For my listening pleasure, I permitted her to scream as I devoured her.
The guards had collapsed in terrified immobility. I ate their souls and tastiest organs, and resumed my walk, soon happening upon a cat travelling across the graveyard. It stopped and growled, and zipped away. Accepting the opportunity for my favorite dessert, I relit my pipe and followed.