Citation: Oblivious 44. "A First Trip Yields a Corpse and Empathy: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp60825)". Erowid.org. Jun 23, 2007. erowid.org/exp/60825
My girlfriend and I had decided to take a weeklong camping trip to the New Jersey shore over the summer. We had been together for a year and I had become closer to her in that time than I had ever become with anyone, and because I felt so comfortable with her I figured that she would make the perfect tripping partner. Accordingly, we brought an eighth of mushrooms along for a daylong beach excursion. Neither of us had tried any sort of hallucinogens before (our experience with drugs having been limited to marijuana at that point), so our jaunt promised to be quite an adventure.
When the day came for our trip to the beach, the sun was shining and fluffy white clouds floated gently in the bright blue sky overhead. The temperature was warm, but not uncomfortably so. I was pleased that the day was so nice and considered myself lucky to be tripping during it, as I had read extensively about mushroom use prior to this event and understood the benefits of tripping in a good environment.
I drove us to the beach and parked in a very wealthy residential neighborhood that bordered the beach. We split the eighth in the car, eating them with chocolate on the advice of a friend to mask the taste. When finished, we grabbed our beach towels and sauntered down to the shore. It was still early (a bit before noon) and I was happy to see that there weren’t too many people on the beach. I had read about trippers becoming overwhelmed by being in the presence of too many people, and was quite wary of having a bad trip despite the excellent setting, company and relatively low dosage.
We laid our towels down, applied sunscreen, and awaited the come-on with trepidation.
About 20 minutes later I was feeling a bit strange and lightheaded but completely coherent. My field of vision was taking on a ‘different’ quality, but the change was too subtle and intangible to lay a finger on.
Then I realized I had to go to the bathroom.
I cursed at the bad timing, told my girlfriend I’d be back, and headed off towards the boardwalk. As I walked along the beach I looked into the distance and it slowly dawned on me just how far I had parked from where the bathrooms would be. I could see some rides and shops a significant distance from myself that didn’t seem to come any closer no matter how much I walked.
As I continued, my anxiety began to grow. My feet were sinking uncomfortably into the sand as the hot sun sapped my strength, and the strong coastal winds seemed to pick up strength and reverberate loudly in my ears. As the wind (seemingly) picked up, I felt as though my walk was building towards something monumental – as if I were trudging towards something explosive that was bound to go off any second.
I smiled and tried to shrug the feeling off, though with only limited success.
Finally I stopped walking, realizing my goal was too far in the distance to reach without leaving my girlfriend behind for a significant period of time. Considering this was her first tripping experience too and I thought she might become frightened if I disappeared, I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to turn around and just go to the bathroom later.
As I turned I noticed a large cloud of tiny black birds floating on the strong breeze. They didn’t seem to be flocking exactly, but rather drifting on the wind. This swarm of silent minuscule birds glided overhead, over the sand dunes and soon wafted away to land on nearby houses. To this day I’m not sure if this cloud of birds was real or in some way hallucinatory, but I was certainly impressed by the unusual nature of the flock.
Though I had momentarily abandoned the anxiety I had been feeling earlier when I observed the birds, when I turned around I was astounded by how the beach had filled with people. I must have been walking for some time, I decided, and was now worried I wouldn’t be able to find my way through the throng back to my girlfriend. I had nothing on me – no cell phone, no wallet, no keys, nothing except my swimsuit – so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to find her and had no way to contact her.
I suddenly realized the extent to which the mushrooms had set it. The crowd of beachgoers walked around disjointedly and looked as though they had arms for legs, though I couldn’t seem to focus on this effect to completely confirm it. I found this physical deformation of the people who surrounded me as somewhat unnerving. To add to the confusion, the sounds of their shouts, squeals and laughter merged with the ocean breeze to form a peculiar and somehow alien wave of noise that assaulted my ears.
I began to walk again, but my mind started to play tricks on me, momentarily making me believe that I hadn’t turned around at all and that I was traveling opposite the direction I wanted to go. I immediately dismissed the idea as crazy because I had access to an enormous land marker that made sure I was going the right way – the ocean, which was now sparkling in the sunlight. The waves took on a brilliant glow, as if studded with diamonds, but my eyes couldn’t seem to focus on any particular quality of the water that would make it illuminate in such a fashion.
Despite the ocean’s interesting and nonthreatening features, the disorderly crowds of people and screaming children, as well as the anxiety of not being able to locate my girlfriend, was really getting to me.
That’s when I saw it. At first it was just out of the corner of my eye, but despite my better judgment I completely turned my head to get full view of a corpse sitting in a beach chair staring back at me.
The human cadaver was incredibly detailed and chilling, it was shriveled and brown, as if it had been in the sun for several days, with its arms curled up at its chest and desiccated legs drooping lifelessly onto the sand below. Its left eye was gray, dulled and unmoving, but its right looked as if it had popped from some intense heat, and internal liquids had dribbled down from the open socket. Its face was withered and wrinkled, drawing its jaw into a tight sneer, above which an empty dried up hole served as a nose.
My heart leaped in my chest. I quickly averted my gaze and rapidly walked passed.
“I’m not getting freaked out by that,” I muttered silently to myself over and over again as I began to search for my girlfriend with much greater apprehension.
I was completely aware that what I had seen was a hallucination brought on by the mushroom trip and not a real corpse, and I think it was that understanding that kept me stable as I hurried on – very intentionally not looking behind me for a second glance.
When I caught sight of my girlfriend lying comfortably on her towel, a profound wave of relief swept over me. I smiled and happily plopped down next to her, giving her a very sincere kiss on the cheek as greeting.
I told her that I hadn’t made it to the bathroom because of the distance, but held off on telling her about my negative experiences until after the trip had expired because I feared I might freak her out and cause her to have a similar experience.
We lay there for a while and watched the clouds float about peacefully and the dune grass blow in the wind with no strong hallucinations but with a definite alteration in reality.
I felt completely at peace again and in time we picked up our stuff, put it in the car and began the long walk towards the boardwalk. During this walk we had a great time, grabbing some ice cream from a local vendor we joked about this and that (the mushrooms having made us rather giddy) until the conversation slowly turned to more serious matters. Though we differed on certain issues, I found that the mushrooms had brought out an incredible empathy in me and I completely understood and respected her points of view.
I felt very connected to the world around me and was able to reflect on its goings-on in a far more objective way than I think would have been possible without the mushrooms. I thought about the state of the world we live in, and how ultimately everyone is just trying to get by as best they know how. I thought about how we should all place a greater emphasis on communication with our fellow man and renounce much of the finger pointing and violence that separates peoples, countries, and cultures.
During this reverie I felt a unity with things around me and with my companion, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying her experience too with her giggles and similar introspective reflections.
By the time we got to the boardwalk the trip had all but expired. When I finally got to the bathroom, the last vestiges of the mushrooms’ effects were tapering off, the final visual stimulation I experienced for the rest of the day were the patterns on the stall walls slowly shifting and moving around – which I found somewhat interesting.
Even with such a (relatively) low dosage (having consumed half an eighth) I found the trip to be a fascinating experience, despite the extremely unnerving encounter with the corpse.
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