A space fell between me and my love. A space so black at first I thought it was midnight, but I saw in my heart behind the ashes a fire growling up like a bull from the pits of hell. She extended her pale, white arms towards me, her sockets void of eyes and running with blood, her lips spread apart in a anguished silent cry. I tried to reach her, my very bones trying to shove their way out of my skin to reach her, but something held me back.
I didn't want to, but I had no choice but to turn and see what it was. A snake, round and massive and coiled around my body, squeezing out the air so there was nothing left for me to breathe.
I struggled but in vain and for a moment my eyes met those of the snake's and I immediately fell forward and down into those eyes, sinking and into them and swirling inside like a leaf down a waterfall.
I screamed but when my mouth opened my lungs filled with fluid. I kicked and punched but felt nothing connect, blind in the darkness. I continued to fall and began to grow dizzy, not knowing whether I was right-side up or wrong-side down.
But then to my left I saw a speck. At first just a tiny thing, yellow and unassuming like a bit of glitter on the floor, but then as I watched it exploded into a thousand hands, opening up like a flower and spreading out wildly like the roots of a tree. Golden, sparkling, the hands all closed into fists before extending their index fingers, pointing upwards.
I became aware that I was standing on the blackness, and I looked down and saw under my feet were coals, silent and cold, as if waiting in vain for a flame to kiss them.
I went to the tree of hands, shrinking as I approached until I was no bigger than a rabbit. My small feet began slipping on the coals, sliding in-between them and becoming jammed until I paused to jerk them out.
A single hand reached down from the tree towards me, opening its palm and gesturing for me to come.
I stepped forward and shrunk even more, to the size of a mouse. I stood still, staring up at the tree and squinting at its brilliance. The hand waited for me, but I was afraid to move, lest I shrink even more. It beckoned me with a finger, but I shook my head.
I took a step back and to my bliss I instantly grew three feet. Hesitantly, the hand withdrew and lifted back to the rest of the hands, closing its fist. I waited curiously, but it did not extend its index finger to the air. I wondered why that was so, but my wondering was short-lived, for the coals began to rumble.
I looked down, walking backwards and growing to my normal height as I did so, watching the coals. But then the light began to fade, and I looked up and saw the tree of hands was shrinking as I had done, but it did not stop shrinking even after I stopped moving.
I was afraid to be in the darkness, and I reached out to the tree, but all the hands were closed into fists and did not acknowledge me. They shrank and shrank, taking with them the golden light, until they had vanished.
And then I was alone.
Again I noticed the rumbling ground, and I reached my arms out to the side to steady myself, and my hands touched walls. I strained my eyes but I could not see. I could only feel, and between the shifting coals and the cold stone walls on either side of me, I was feeling quite afraid.
A roar sounded from the earth, and I looked down and saw a faint red glow from far beneath the coals. The glow seemed to be right under me, so I tried to run, but I ran into another wall. I felt around and panic rose up inside of me as I discovered I was trapped in a box.
The coals began to feel warm, and despite the cold, the warmth did not comfort me. I tried to scream for help, but there was no one that could save me.
It roared again, so close I could almost feel the rush of wind from its jaws. Weeping and trembling, I backed into a corner and stood staring down at the coals with utter terror.
Suddenly, the coals burst into flames but I was not engulfed. Instead, the coals fell away and in their place stood a man not unlike myself. He was naked, yet his body was covered in burns, blisters and ashes and he wore those as if they were his clothing. He smiled at me with teeth so white I had to look away. He touched my cheek and his touch was incredibly gentle and soft.
I looked at him and suddenly he was a monster. A hideous beast with the eyes of a tiger, the wide lips of an alegator, the nose of a bat, and the ears of an elephant, with horns from all sorts of creatures jutting up out of its skull. A black, forked tongue fell from its mouth and wiggled at me from between vampire fangs. It reeked of sulfur and rot, and gray steam hissed from its ears and nostrils.
I fell to my knees and held out my hands in surrenderance. I tried to ask for mercy, but I could not speak and when I put my hands to my mouth I found that I did not have a mouth. I jerked backwards in fear and crashed through the stone wall, bursting out into sudden daylight.
I was falling from a bridge down to a rocky gorge. I flapped my arms like mad and floated up easily, back up into the clear blue sky. I looked at my arms and saw wings instead, and saw also that I was a butterfly.
Happily I flew down to a garden behind a house, where sweet, golden flowers were blooming. I landed on one and was about to drink its nectur when a shadow passed over me. I turned and saw her, my love, standing there with a rusty watering can. She stared at me in silence for what felt like forever, until she raised the watering can and it became a fly-swatter. I shook my head at her, wanting to explain, but having no voice.
I quickly dodged the first strike, flying away from the flowers and circling over-head. I heard an odd noise and realized it was from my wings. I looked and saw my wings were thin and papery, and webbed like netting. With misery, I had become a wasp.
I looked down at my love as she swatted the air, hearing my buzzing but not seeing me. There were so many things I wished to tell her, but I knew I never would be able to. Not when I was this.
I flew away and eventually came to rest on a fallen tree that had longed to be closer to the water, its base damming up a small stream. I sat on the tree feeling quite sad, for what is the purpose of a wasp without purpose? As if in response to my sorrows, a toad from the bank struck out its tongue and swallowed me up.