Ok.... this is really late. I can't even remember when I wrote it... but there's another three things or MORE to upload. Sorry, all!
She really, really didn't want to be here. This was scary, this was weird, this was insane. But… it was a dare. A rite of passage. She had to, or be cast out. Her footsteps echoed on the metal of the corridor, and she imagined she could hear noises and animals through the soundproof door, even though that was a crazy thought. She opened the portal with a touch, and stepped into a different world.
The comforting gleam of the metal soon disappeared beneath the dirt and loam of the tropical rainforest, taken and preserved in entirety from its home on Earth, transported and displayed on the colony ship. It was an enigma to everyone – supposedly, there were half-wild savages living in the forest's expanses, caring for it and warning off everyone who didn't belong. If a person went in for a certain amount of time and returned alive, they were hailed as a hero and never bothered again. The hierarchy aboard the ship was strange even to its inhabitants, and she did not want to go into it.
Vines brushed her arms, and she cringed. She tripped over an exposed root, and nearly yelped. An hour and a half to go… torture. Animals screamed in the background – were they really animals? She thought she heard wild laughter. Birds cawed, bushes scraped against tree trunks, and her clean shoes were soon covered in mud and dirt. Deeper into the trees she went, catching flashes of movement out the corner of her eye, nerves fraying and fear growing. She glanced up trying to see the ceiling, but couldn't see anything through the tree cover.
Finally, she caught sight of a light through the gloom, and made her way toward it, regardless of what it signified. As she got closer, she thought… she heard drums? And rattles… suddenly she didn't think this was such a good idea…but she was already there, at a break in the trees, witnessing something she had never dreamed possible.
An open flame – so very dangerous! – was in the center of the clearing, with half-dressed men dancing around it. In the flickering shadows at the edge of the light, people crouched or sat, holding drums or other mysterious paraphernalia. She shivered at the sight, morbidly fascinated. The dancers – or at least she assumed they were dancing – jumped around, skin glistening in the red light, arms and rattles blurring into the dark air, tassels spinning and falling in waves. They danced and spun in a circle around the fire, moving slowly, sometimes, other times weaving along the ground or into the air at odd moments.
At some point, she wasn't really sure when, a woman entered the current. Dressed in streamers and vines, hair loose and long and glimmering darkly in the crimson-tinged half-light, wove amongst the softly stomping men, leaping gracefully into the air and seeming to float there. Her hands wove their own patterns, seemingly independent of the rest of her body, serpentine. The fire sent sparks and ribbons of flame and smoke into the air, refracted into different shads, impossible shades of color, blues greens and whites… the streamers hung in the space above the dancers and below the trees, entwining into a net and somehow staying there long after it should have. The beat continued under it all, making her heart pound.
Suddenly she didn't want to be there. Something about the scene made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, and she shivered involuntarily. This was not for her eyes, not for human eyes! She backed away, for some reason reluctant to look aside, then turned around and hastily made her way back to the door, mindless of the branches and vines. The haunting music followed her, clinging to her mind and echoing there long past the point it should have passed beyond hearing range. The drums seemed to beat in her heartbeat, in her footstep, in the sounds of the forest…
The door came into sight – redemption, and peace.