I caught a flash of strawberry hair, a frock of pale pink. Plants grew in her wake, sprouting behind her dirt-caked heels. I was chasing my mother, but she was not my mother. She looked younger, livelier. I called out to her, but she did not turn back to me. She only kept running. Towards what, I knew not. I knew only that is was more important than me, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I sped up and in a moment, I began to feel the ground around me in a way I did not understand. I willed my legs to go faster, screaming my mother’s name until my throat went hoarse. I was gaining distance on her until I could see her plainly.
I was walking through the dark woods. Branches crunched under my feet as I heard crows cawing in the distance. They were telling me to run away, or maybe they were laughing at me, certain that in moments some terrible monster would pounce at me and swallow me whole. The hairs on my body stood on end as I listened to every noise around me, afraid that a painful and terrible death was only footsteps away.
The boy gaped, eyes wide, at the hall ten times as big as his father’s farm. The ceilings, a shade like the sky at midnight, arched above the boy, stretching on and on into an expanding infinity. The walls were painted with script in languages that bent the boys brain, languages humans should not understand. The air smelled of the comfortable cold, crisp and clean and sharp. The boy took a great inhale, basking in the chill after the sweltering heat of the ancient town. Then, there were the dancers. All around the boy, specters swirled in glittering ballgowns and elaborate, blooming suits.
She is begging to me. She is not the first to beg— tears in her eyes, desperation clawing at her throat— and she is most certainly not the last.