A recent study conducted by the University of Escapism indicates that, yes, it is indeed possible to ascend through smoking. I went to interview the university’s own Professor Downearth for more details.
Walking through the halls of the university, I feel the urge to question the tall gentleman once more:
– Is it true what you claim? Can you really ascend through smoking?
He simply smiles. He walks, I follow. As we walk, the walls start to cave in around us. Space crumbles, I follow. The professor saunters along the now non-existent floor nonchalantly. Dancing along to his own heartbeat in the thin air seems to be second nature to him. As soon as I manage to pry my eyes away from his feet long enough to start worrying about my own safety, he pulls me along with him by my wrist, saving me from falling into the lifeless abyss below. He walks, I follow. For a moment, or perhaps a million, I seem to lose my grip on the concept of time. When it finally, or perhaps immediately, returns to me, we are standing in front of a metallic door labelled “Air”. Professor Downearth’s calm expression remains even as he opens the door and says:
– Meet the Airheads.
The room inside is dark and foggy but I can see them clearly. Twenty-seven or so grotesque beings sitting huddled up on the floor. About half of them each hold a lit cigarette in their hand. These beings look human enough for me to not feel frightened, yet strange enough for me to become concerned. The shapes of their bodies I immediately recognize as my own. Their feet, however, are enormous and birdlike, sharp claws sticking out of coarse yellowish toes. It’s quite amazing. But the truly most amazing part is what I notice next: their heads. Or, the thick, swirling clouds of smoke that take up the space where a head should be. I’m not sure where their bodies end and the clouds begin. I’m not even sure if they really have heads, though I would guess they do. The lighting is a smidge too dim and the smoke a smidge too thick for me to confirm it, but in the center of the clouds above their torsos I can almost make out a dark, round shape that appears to be the core. It seems to hold some of the smoke together to form the shape of a head, while the rest of the smoke ascends and spreads throughout the room like a fleeting dream.
Whether or not the Airheads still remember who they are, I don’t know. Neither do I know if they are better or worse off now than they were before they were brought into the laboratory. All I know is that they seem to have peace of mind. They seem to be part of a community, their heads evaporating and connecting in the ceiling like a smoky hivemind.