There initially was much clamoring over the distribution of Muze, the substance that many called a “miracle drug” for its ostensibly salubrious effect upon lonely and desperate men, particularly men faced with that series of circumstances called “shyboy syndrome” in some circles, better (and more controversially) known as “inceldom,” that is, the condition associated with the “involuntary celibate,” the sort of young man who is convinced, either due to his lack of good looks, or his absence of social graces, or some other real or perceived deficiency, that he will never receive positive attention from the opposite sex.

Once Muze received FDA approval, its targeted marketing campaign, helped along immensely by the sort of data mining that has become ubiquitous in our social media age, seemed to find its way into the feed, text, or email box of any man who had, for one reason or another, whether jokingly, semi-jokingly, or non-jokingly, referred to himself as an “incel,” or had demonstrated interest, whether hostile, friendly, or neutral, in this very “incel” phenomenon.

Advertisements that ran on television, however, did not directly mention anything pertaining to inceldom; instead, they featured a woman’s voice asking, “Have you ever felt a bit shy? Left out? Are you tired of being forever alone? Do you commonly experience despair, believing that you might never find that special someone with whom to share your life?” During this initial phase of the spot, one sad-faced young man after another was displayed, one moping on a couch behind a laptop, another lying in bed, pensively staring at the ceiling, another wandering down an utterly empty street with his hands desultorily thrust in his pockets. Then, after the Muze product was introduced as a suggestible solution to the abovementioned problems, these same young men were shown behaving with rugged confidence: one was pictured catching a woman’s eye and winking back suavely after she smiled at him, another was depicted engaging a different woman in conversation and getting her to laugh, etc. During this portion of the spot, the sexy-voiced female voiceover continued, “You’ve got it in you! If you can dream it, you can achieve it…let Muze help you find your mojo!”

The obligatory list of side-effects, often hilariously lengthy for such pharmaceutical advertisements, was here surprisingly short. “For men only. Not to be taken with alcohol. Occasional disturbance in sleep patterns may occur. Discontinue usage if headaches or vomiting become habitual. See your doctor today about obtaining a prescription for Muze, and start living the life of your dreams!”


Originally, skepticism towards this product reigned supreme amongst most of the targeted demographic, at least judging from the posts left at online forums of men who were invested in the subject of involuntary celibacy. But then, after an initial indulgence in “blackpilled” derision (“They’re trying to exploit us! They’re probably just feeding men sugar pills…”), there followed a spate of posts from various commentators, declaring some variation of, “Well, it may not work, but I may as well try it anyhow…what have I got to lose?”

Intrigued, I decided to investigate the affair myself, to figure out if the hype being generated by this product in any way matched the results it produced. I began to ask around in various places to see if anyone had opted to start taking the drug so I could follow up concerning their experiences with it. As luck would have it, a friend of mine, a guy I actually knew (though not terribly well), informed me out of the blue one day that he had begun with his Muze prescription and was quite astonished at the effect it was having upon him…

It had been only a week, he said, and already he had begun to feel better about himself. Another week passed, and he emailed me again, this time barely seeming able to contain his giddiness. He had “found someone” (meaning of course, a girl), he informed me. I wrote back congratulating him, and inquiring if we could speak personally, as I had begun a sort of “citizen journalist” investigation into the Muze phenomenon.

My friend called me later that night, and from the instant I heard his voice, I could scarcely believe it was him. I had been acquainted with him for about three years, ever since we worked together at the same company as cubicle-mates, and during that span of time, he had always possessed an exceedingly somber disposition. Once he told me that he had always had trouble making friends, and even more trouble meeting women, since he was withdrawn and shy, not terribly attractive, slightly paunchy, and—perhaps worst of all—short of stature. When he deigned to talk, it was with a resigned air, like one who feels himself destined for an eventual trip to the gallows.

But on this night, hearing him speak over the phone, I could have sworn that an entirely different man now inhabited my friend’s body. Though he possessed the same familiar drawl as ever, his tone now seemed positively electrified, as if he were constantly being pricked with light charges, causing his intonations to regularly reach curious little crescendos of cadence. It was all mildly disconcerting to me, but on the other hand, he did seem happier than I had ever seen him before, which caused me to smile (though, as previously stated, I was also a bit unsure as to how to feel concerning this abrupt change of demeanor on his part).

My friend informed me that, for the first few days on Muze, he could scarcely tell any difference from before. But then, on the sixth night, he began to sense a strange, new kind of awareness washing over him.

“At first, it was only a trickle of this novel sensation, but then it grew in abundance until I finally felt it coursing through me, down to my very core…I remember gazing at myself in the mirror and whispering, ‘I am a man! I occupy space in this world…I have a right to go and get what I want…I will myself to succeed…’ I know it sounds corny, but you must understand that I wasn’t trying to convince myself of these things. Instead, I simply found that I was aware of them as inexorable truths and I was speaking them aloud not to give myself any kind of ‘pep talk,’ but simply to share, with my own visage, that which I already had grown to know, with all of my heart, soul, and mind, to be undeniable facts. It was the most incredible rush, something I had never before felt in my life!”

A mere two days after gaining this awareness, my friend said, was when he met his new (that is to say, his first) girlfriend. She caught his eye abruptly, he explained, while he was going for a jog on the walking trails of the local state park. She was turning a steep corner, coming the opposite way, speedwalking with her earbuds in, listening to music. She didn’t see him until the very last moment, and they very nearly ran headlong into one another.

“I came really close to knocking her down!” my friend laughed. “That would’ve made a helluva first impression, eh?”

I felt startled for a moment, then realized that I had never before heard him laugh, or otherwise express mirth or lightheartedness, “doomer” that he was, or always had been, up to now. “She apologized,” he continued. “She said she had been lost in thought and wasn’t looking where she was going. I told her, ‘Well, that happens to me a lot, too!’ and we started talking…we found that we liked the same music, the same movies, that our politics were nearly identical, that she hated modern feminism, thought that modern men were getting a raw deal in many ways…she even told me, without being prompted, how grotesque she thought the ‘Tinder trap’ was! And I know exactly what all of my ‘blackpilled’ friends would have said: that she was just a chameleon, a tradthot…I get it, because I myself would have dismissed Helena (that’s her name) with exactly the same epithets, just a short time ago, but I mean, we really really really clicked, Helena and I, we truly did!”

I told my friend how happy I was for him and inquired about when I might be able to meet the lovely Helena. He enthusiastically replied that we should all get together soon. “Make it a double date?” he asked, insouciantly. Now it was my turn to laugh. I admitted that at this point I was “between lovers,” and he chuckled at that. “You sly dog! Playing the field, are ya?”

Again, I was taken aback. Such good-natured joshing had never been a staple of his personality when we had interacted before. In fact, if he had ever shown any signs of possessing a sense of humor, it was always of the exceedingly dry, even morose, variety. I told him that I felt like I was talking to a whole different person, and my friend responded, “Oh yes, indeed! I feel as good as new, like an entirely new man…” Yet again, he laughed, and yet again I found myself blanching at his unaccustomed cheerfulness. We said our goodbyes.


My friend called me several more times over the following days and excitedly reported that his relationship “had progressed to the physical level.” I told him that I didn’t need all the sexy details, and once more he laughed before assuming a tone of reverential awe. “She’s just wonderful,” he exclaimed. ”She’s a beautiful person, inside and out! We have so much to talk about, so much to share with one another. It’s like we were made to be together!”

I asked my friend, who heretofore had always professed atheism, if this experience had changed his mind, noting that his language here (“made to be together”) indeed implied the machination of a “Maker.” Instead of registering annoyance at me “trying to bring God into everything,” as he had frequently accused me of doing when we had engaged in friendly philosophical debates in the past, he now solemnly stated that he “might just be open to such notions at this point.”

“You win, Flying Spaghetti Monster worshipper. Checkmate, God!” he chuckled.

Still, we found that our schedules proved tricky to coordinate when we attempted again to arrange a time to get together. “Helena’s job takes her out of town a lot,” my friend told me apologetically.


It seemed that I would finally have a chance to meet up with my friend and his renowned woman late one afternoon for coffee following work. But at the very last moment, my friend texted to say that he and his lady wouldn’t be able to make it after all, since she apparently had suddenly fallen ill. I will confess that my patience, long tested, had by this point been worn to a nub. It had been two whole months and still Helena had not been actually rendered present to my eyes and ears. So did she truly exist? Had my friend been playing an elaborate deception this whole time? Was the joke on me?

Miffed though I was, I somehow couldn’t bring myself to pose this pointed question to my friend. I had, after all, witnessed such an enduring change in his personality, a change clearly for the better, indicating an underlying state of newfound happiness on his part, a state of mind that was clearly sincere and genuine. For these reasons, I felt inclined simply to leave things alone. If my friend were playing an elaborate ruse, then he scarcely could have been enabled to transform himself so totally, both in demeanor and overall outlook.

But might he in fact have become delusional, inventing a woman out of whole cloth, ex nihilo? Might he have then invested his chimera with such human-like qualities as to seem actual to his degraded mind? And how, moreover, did any of these circumstances relate to his usage of Muze?


Rather than confront my friend concerning these issues, as I sensed that the result might be in the interest of neither charity or truth, I instead opted to turn my attention elsewhere; that is to say, I returned to scrutinizing reported occurrences on online forum sites. I now found, to my abundant fascination, that the miraculous Muze now seemed to be paying major dividends amongst many formerly bitterly “blackpilled” men.

While the drug wasn’t “working” for everyone—a small number of users reported no change in outlook or demeanor, while a slightly larger number said they felt Muze gave them a “minor” boost in confidence and caused them to feel a “touch” more hopeful—by far the largest number of users (Muzers?), from an admittedly random sampling, spoke with enthusiastic fervor about how their lives had been transformed in a small amount of time, with many boasting of having landed a girlfriend for the very first time, and others of having recovered from a “long dry spell” or bouncing back after an inglorious divorce which had previously them swearing off romance forevermore. They collectively raved about “just how easy it had proved to be” to meet someone desirable, someone whom they were sure would have been “out of their league” in days past, but who today seemed “ripe for the plucking” (as well as “for the fucking,” as one wag rather shamelessly announced).

I contacted many of these men personally and asked them to tell me their story. The vast majority happily responded. To my astonishment, it seemed that their accounts largely paralleled the one told to me by my friend, which is to say the parallels between every man’s stated sequence of events were stunningly similar. In my random sampling, 66 men reported that the Muze had had an incredibly potent effect upon their mindset and psyche. They all told me that, in the span of but a few days, they were feeling themselves engulfed with a sudden surge of a heretofore unknown sense of “empowerment,” followed soon after by a chance meeting with a beautiful woman. Most of these men reported meeting their “dream girl” in a public location: a park, a shopping mall, a library, a grocery store, a city street. In each case, the men in question, hopped up on Muze-infused confidence, chose to engage this fair maiden in conversation, upon which they found that the two of them in fact had a great deal in common. Afterwards, their relationship developed rapidly, with the former “incel” soon finding himself in a full-blown, passion-fueled romance.

Case after case of miracle after miracle was presented before my eyes. At first, the easily observable similarities in the cases had me feeling suspicious, wondering if I might be the target of some elaborate con job. Yet after speaking directly with nearly all of the men (they seemed not just willing but eager to talk), whether by Zoom or by Skype or by phone, I found that they all hailed from different regions of the country, and in some cases lived abroad. None of them had had contact with any of the others. There were no underlying commonalities in the lives of any of these men, save for their professed “incel” status and for their all having taken the same medication. Each one sounded ecstatically happy, echoing the changed demeanor of my once laconically morose, now giddily love-struck friend.


The more of these men I interviewed, the more convinced I became that my initial suspicions concerning my friend’s possible loss of sanity were unfounded. It seemed, rather, that the drug appeared actually to be…working! Indeed, could all of these men have lost their grip on reality? Such a scenario struck me as quite unlikely. Still, while their reports seemed as credible (though from a certain point of view, of course, they sounded utterly incredible, given that most of them had had little if any romantic success before, making these tales of blissful amour seem nothing short of miraculous), still I wanted to meet the women in these men’s lives, just to apprehend their side of this story.

It was quite possible, after all, that the similarities in all of the stories I had heard were simply attributable to the men feeling self-assured enough to chat the woman up during the first fateful meeting, due to the effect that the Muze was having upon their behavior, demeanor, and outlook. Perhaps, then, there was nothing in particular odd or unusual about the men meeting the women in precisely this way in every single case under investigation. That is to say, perhaps the common denominator in each case was simply the salubrious effect of the drug itself.


Might it not indeed have been that simple? Could the ostensible “wonder drug” simply have been working its wonder, at least in these select number of cases?

For a time, I must say that I found myself so convinced of this drug’s potency and power that I even considered giving it a whirl. It had been a few months since I had been dumped by my last girlfriend, after a relationship which had lasted nearly two years. Having always imagined myself married with children by the time I turned 30, and now, finding myself single again with no prospects in sight as I approached my 33rd birthday, I felt sorely tempted to become a “Muzer” myself. Hearing all these tales of men younger than me enjoying so much success had me feeling, I will admit, a bit like a starving man locked out of a feast.


It was nearly six months since my friend had first reported his own successes. Half a year, and I still hadn’t met, nor heard from, nor even seen, Helena, his girlfriend, now apparently his fiancée. I had been unable to search for her online, because I had never heard my friend use her surname; thus, I was unable to enter her name into any search engine to see if she had a profile on any social media, for example. Still, as they were on the fast track to matrimony, I figured I would at long last meet her on the date when she became his blushing bride.

It was with a great deal of astonishment, then, that I received this email from my friend one fateful morning, part of a short general letter that was CC’ed to a large number of people. It read:

Hello, all!

“Helena and I are so excited. We have decided to ascend. We will take our journey together shortly. You will not see us again for a long while, but do not fear, friends; we are going where we will be happy forever, and we are confident that you will soon join us…onward and upward!


This mysterious and quite alarming message proved to be the last time I, or anyone else, heard from my friend. Many of those to whom this general email had been sent wrote my friend back, asking what was up, expressing concern, demanding that he explain himself, but all to no avail; he never replied to anyone.

After receiving my friend’s mysterious missive, I checked back in with the contacts I had made with the men of the online message boards. There, I found to my amazement that many had apparently put out general letters which ran along the same lines as the contents of my friend’s email. All spoke of an abrupt determination to “ascend.” All attributed their newfound conviction to the influence of their happy relationship with their girlfriends, many of whom had by that time become their fiancées, just as things had developed in the case of my friend and his own beloved. In each case, they had all simply disappeared, “dropped off the map,” together with their women, apparently.

Yet in none of these instances had I ever seen the men with the women they claimed to have met, and thereafter, with whom they had fallen in love, and in the company of whom they now opted to “ascend,” whatever that meant.


Was it all some kind of joke? Or a massive hoax?

But how could it all be a hoax when my friend, whom I knew to have legitimately vanished, was one of the “ascendant” ones? If his disappearance was authentic, then surely the other men’s disappearances were likewise legitimate. (And indeed, I found plenty of evidence to demonstrate this afterwards, including the bewildered and grieving testimony of friends and family following their seeming departures from the world into the “ascendant” realm.)

What bothered me all along, however, and what continues to bother me deeply, is the utter absence of evidence for the existence of these women. I have seen no photographs, no videos, no audio recordings, nothing demonstrating their presence, save for the men mentioning them in their joyous and optimistic effusions.

So I began to wonder, yet again: could the Muze have induced in all of these men a state of psychosis (if the drug truly “took,” that is), in which their senses tricked them into believing they had encountered a desirable woman, one “real” to them, but unreal to the world? Had it likewise induced them into developing a “relationship” with this (literal) dream girl? Then, after spending a given amount of time with said “dream girl, had they for some reason become convinced that it was time to “ascend” to a place where they and their dream girl could be together forever?

Again, what could “ascend” mean in such a context, other than what one strongly suspects it to mean, that is, to shuffle off this mortal coil, to exist no longer on this earthly plane, to become spirit, i.e., “to die, to sleep, no more?”


It must be added that since his abrupt professed resolution to “ascend,” my friend has never been found, either dead or alive. Instead, he seems to have fairly well vanished, like one “taken up into the clouds.” But why would such be the result of the ingestion of this FDA-approved drug, for which hallucinations and suicidal ideation were not listed as possible side-effects? Might these results be purely accidental, or are they in fact, to speak sinisterly, the intended outcome for the user?

One cannot know for certain. Yet, witness to the address that billionaire and major Muze financier Nathan Grothko is reported to have delivered in a luncheon meeting with pharmaceutical stockholders several years ago:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is an unfortunate fact that our Earth has become gravely overpopulated. What we are plagued with today is a highly dysgenic excess demographic, in the form of folk who one might well label as ‘inessential,’ as they contribute nothing to society and are little but pests and nuisances, parasitically drawing on our precious resources whilst generally, by their very existences, only promoting alienation and despair…if there were a humane way to remove these unfortunates from the gene pool, in order to have a sleeker, more streamlined, and more genetically worthy version of humanity prevail, then I for one would certainly support taking such a step, provided, to repeat, that it be done in a humane manner, for never let it be said that I am an advocate for any form of cruelty or barbarism…”

Of course, the historicity of the speech has been largely dismissed by many “fact-checkers,” who claim that Grothko in truth never spoke these words. True, too, that even if the “fact-checkers” are wrong, and Grothko did in fact deliver this address, it was at a time several years before the development and manufacturing of Muze, the “miracle drug,” so it cannot be maintained that he was referring specifically to this particular prescription at that particular time as providing the means of “removing…unfortunates from the gene pool.”

Still and all, one cannot help but notice that, if one wished to purge from the gene pool a group said to be “inessential,” and frequently judged to be “pests and nuisances,” if not worse, a “highly dysgenic excess demographic” fairly well reeking of “alienation and despair,” then the so-called “incels” could hardly not come to mind…and if one wished to rid the world of this supposedly “parasitical” human refuse in an ostensibly “humane” manner, in a manner that in fact would give these “unfortunates” a sense of harmony and bliss, such as they had never before known in their sad, pitiful lives, then would not having them experience love, in the form of a chimeric hallucination of their “dream girl” (accurately named, for the “girl” in question would indeed be but a dream), and afterwards, having them be induced with an irresistible urge to effect a joyful exit from the physical world into purer spiritual climes, with their lovely and loving “dream girl” faithfully by their side all the while…would such not be an appropriately “humane” way to dispatch with these “dysgenic” men now so inconsiderately cluttering up the gene pool?


But, for all of these speculations, coupled with such dire facts, circumstances, and events, how can one truly know for certain what is going on with regard to the sinister mystery of Muze?

There is only one way to find out for sure, and that is…to ingest the drug oneself, sit back, and see what transpires.

I have decided to take this step, with both eyes wide open, well aware that I might be consigning myself to death by so doing. But perhaps, like the men who have been the object of my study, I am ready to meet such a fate.

“Death by dream girl” seems, after all, not at all a bad way to go…


This is an excerpt from Andy Nowicki’s new novella, Muze. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.