"Cycling up" he said, "everything is beautiful. Colors are intense, lines are sharp, roses and rats and a turd at the feet of the Venus de Milo combine in patterns no human being ever saw before, and people -- no one can offend you or horrify you, everything they do or say is hilarious, exquisitely lovely, delightful, all at once.
"At the top, you are a God. You comprehend the meaning of All, but you cannot express it to any mere mortal. You feel infinite pity for them all.
"Over the edge the pity turns to contempt, irritation. No one moves fast enough or thinks fast enough to keep up with you and they all get in your way.
"The fall -- part of it is seductive, the feeling of standing on the roof of the Empire State Building and wanting to jump. The longing of gravity for anything high. The pull your bed has for your aching body when you are fully tired.
"The coccooning effect of pain, the rocking cradle of grief, the black hole at the center of being that shuts out everything from your attention, even yourself.
"The eternal human fascination with corruption, with horror. The temptation to dive to the bottom, to finally confront all of it.
"The helpless slide, knowing that all of this is your emotional excuse for falling, and the only reality is that you will fall."
She watched him intensely as he spoke, her dark eyes glowing and the tip of her tongue occasionally flicking drops of Lacroix's wine from her lips. Then she asked him to dance. Her body was thin, light, cool -- and stronger than any woman who had ever held him. It made him feel safe. This was a body that could meet any rage that he could launch and never break She clung to him as if she cherished every surge of adrenaline and knot of howling grief.
She murmured into his ear, "No disease survives death -- or the gift of the vampire, which cures even death."
So he went with her.
When he woke from the earthen bed all the colors were intense and lines were sharp. Scents danced for him in a throng, and he could identify the lines of every one; the wood of the walls and the wood of the oak by the window and the wood of the young saplings coming up by its feet each had a different taste, and was tied to its own source.
She met him as he rose. They made love. He felt an infinite tenderness for her.
Then he hungered. Even the time he'd gotten lost on the Olympic Peninsula for three days didn't match it. Coming out of a three-week depression when he had eaten nothing but flour because he wouldn't go to the store for groceries -- that was nothing. His bones no longer held marrow -- they held vacuum, starved and screaming
The storm of an entire life pouring into him along with the thrill of deep hunger being filled to overflowing -- he lost all of his senses and was swept away in the flood of it, until she pulled him back.
Then they reveled, the two of them and others, some others, they came and went -- dancing at Lacroix's, laughing at the mortals and at each other dancing in a forest under moonlight; shattering the hallowed silence of a museum, tangoing with statues, arranging exquisite paintings to make absurd rebuses, toasting each other with ancient cups; dancing across stars somewhere, somehow.
When he lay down again as the warning fingers of light crept over the edge of the sky, centuries of corruption opened below him; the Earth threw all its human dead in his face and as he felt the pull of the long cold dark he knew that this time there would be no bottom to it, only a rise for breath each night and a plunge into darkness each day.
And Lithium would never help again.