I awake in total darkness. I cannot move. My body is pressed hard against this structure. I feel as if I’m going to suffocate. As I struggle, the structure I’m entombed in sways back and forth. I can hear the sound of water as it slowly drips, and I can smell the scent of lilacs.
Every muscle in my body starts to ache. I’m trying to move, trying to break free. My body is gripped with pain. Claustrophobia is setting in, and I start to hyperventilate. I’m losing consciousness…
I awake again and notice the tightness of the structure is even more binding than before. It is crushing me. Is it shrinking? Or am I growing? I feel my body begin to morph as my skin begins to leak secretions. The walls of my cell become damp with this sweet yet sour, smelling pus as it pours out of my skin. The structure begins to give way as the pus eats its way through the walls. Streaks of daylight invade my eyes, drilling in like lightning bolts. How long have I been here? The darkness is no more.
As my eyes adjust to the daylight, the cool morning breeze flows through the openings in my cell. The walls start to flake and descend. I find myself hanging upside down as I finally gain physical control over the rest of my body. As I shake and stretch, the structure separates from me and falls to the ground. I release my grip and start to free-fall. As the wind blows, I catch onto it and I frantically ascend back into the air in a fluttering, uncontrollable motion.
The wind whips me into many different directions. One moment it is pushing me towards the earth, and the next, it is whipping me back into the sky. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a blur of a hand reaching out to snatch me out of the air. The force of the breeze from a child’s hand throws me into a whirlwind of flight as the pursuit rages on. As the earth below changes from a soft, grassy green surface to a concrete grey, I feel a force alter my flight, pulling me into a horizontal slipstream in the opposite direction.
The small bones in my captivatingly beautiful wings start to shatter as I fight against the current of air that spins me in a vortex. At the center of the vortex, I collide with the front grill of the gigantic mustard colored dump truck. My wings and my body instantly turn into nothing more than dust, leaving only a blur of my colors on the grill.
Steve looks up from the radio, and at the last moment, he sees the toddler bounding into the street in pursuit of the butterfly. He slams on the brakes, but with no hope of missing the little girl. The toddler keeps her focus on the butterfly, when the passenger front side of the truck hits her. The truck devours her the moment it makes contact. Her spine is shattered as she is thrown forward from the force of the impact. The studded tires catch up to her and rip her open as they screech across the pavement in a desperate attempt to stop.
I strain to see through my dirty windshield covered with bug carcasses. I see the mayhem of the toddler disappearing under the wheels of the truck. I quickly pull my car off to the side of the road in disbelief of this tragedy. The dump truck driver jumps out of his cab, looks at the front of his truck, then at the mangled body lying underneath the center of the chassis.
I frantically jump out of my car, leave it running, and rush over to see if I can help. The driver looks up at me and dashes in full stride towards his cab. With lightning speed, he hoists himself back up into the cab. I slip on the bloody road as I hear him throw his truck back into gear. The truck flies past me, knocking me back into the ditch as he speeds towards my car. The crash sounds like thunder and twisting metal as his truck bends my car into a pile of rubble. Grinding gears, he throws it in reverse to back up then slams it back into gear in a forward dash to flee the scene.
Blood is running down my face and oozing from my wounds as I climb out of the roadside ditch. I see cars approaching from the distance as I run toward the toddler’s mangled body. As the cars near me, they veer into the center of the road so as to avoid running over the tiny, mangled body.
Why won’t anyone stop to help? They just swerve past us and act like their only concern is getting remains of the young girl splattered on their freshly cleaned cars and SUVs. I run over and scoop the little girl up into my arms. Her body is moist in my arms. Her brilliant sky blue eyes flicker with life as she tries to speak, but only gurgles emit from her throat. I search my surroundings and start to run across the field towards the hospital just beyond a group of condos. The morning air is quickly becoming hot and sticky as I struggle to reach my destination.
As I enter the hospital, the crisp air conditioning washes over my body as I realize how strangely deserted the lower level is. I run across the white linoleum floor, still feeling the little girl gasping for life in my arms. I slam the buttons on the elevator, and watch impatiently as each little light blinks to life as the elevator approaches to open and let me in. The lobby becomes black as the light dims to nothing.
The elevator doors finally open, spilling light across the room with a welcoming glow. I enter it, and the doors slide shut as I turn to the wall to push the button, but I only find one.
A heavy metal version of “The Sound of Silence” plays in reverse over the interior speakers I push the single button and the floor begins to vibrate as we start to ascend. I look down at her as she starts to cry. I raise her up and kiss her forehead.
As her eyes open wide, they burst and become pools of blue liquid. She reaches her tiny mangled hand up and caresses my cheek. As soon as I feel her hand upon my cheek, her skin turns to the liquid blue. Suddenly, her whole arm fills with the blue liquid, filling up like a water balloon, and then bursts.
The liquid fills the bottom of the elevator soaking my feet up to my ankles. The blue solution continues to take over the rest of her body. As each body part fills, it bursts, empties into the elevator to the point where I swim upwards to keep above it. The liquid takes over holding my breath, I scramble to reach the top, but it seems to move farther and farther away. I look back down and the elevator seems to be nothing but a glimmer of light at the bottom of this watery blue shaft.
I feel my lungs ready to explode, and they cry out for oxygen as I swim faster trying to find a surface to break through. At the last moment, I feel my hand reaching up and hitting the cool damp air as I pull myself to the surface. As the air fills my lungs and refreshes it with oxygen, my body tingles into almost an orgasm. Dawn breaks with the sun rising just over the mountain.
I find myself in the center of a round pool of liquid. I swim to the edge. There are seven nude bodies with each of their throats ripped apart. Their heads are floating in the pool, while the blood drains into the pool
I try to find an exit. I crawl out over a female body that still feels warm to the touch, but life has left its shell I get to my feet and look across the barren landscape, nothing in sight except for a three-story shack of a house off to the west.
I trudge across the land that is filled with protruding tree roots sticking up out of the ground, but there are no trees for them to belong to. As I get closer to a shack, I see a flash of light coming from the attic, as if a mirror is catching a stream of sunlight as it sways back and forth. In the thirty minutes it takes me to walk to the shack, the sun does not seem to have moved from its location behind the mountain range. I grasp the door handle, and it rattles in my hand as I try to turn it. As I enter the smell of oil-filled dirt fills my nostrils making it hard to catch my breath.
The entrance is small and narrow with only a hall leading towards a set of spiral stairs the flash of light I witnessed moves in no certain rhythm. It seems to be shining through some source of water, as the light streams quiver and run across the wall. As I climb the staircase, my fingers sink into the handrail, which is moist and course like a sponge. There is an atrocious smell as I get closer to the top, and I start to gag, but the light is beckoning me on. I cannot turn away. I must see what I’m being lead to.
I enter the top floor to see a figure sitting in a chair facing the opposite side of the room. Do I wait for the flash of light to survey the room, or do I just continue on? I creep towards the hulking figure in fear of what I may find, and I enter the figure’s field of view. He shudders and raises his arm, pointing toward the sky that is visible through a hole in the roof. Then, the flash of light fills the room revealing its face. No skin makes up the hideous face, only mud with crawling insects and worms. I look up to the hole in the roof and the sky is filled with a white glow. Everything blurs out in a white hot flash.
I awake in bed and sit up, coated in sweat. I reach for my glasses on the nightstand and squint to see the clock. 3:34 a.m. I lay back down with my arm behind my head and recollect my thoughts trying to piece together the night’s visions. The bed starts to shake, and then the whole house and sky become instant daylight spewing white light throughout my room.
I jump from my bed Fumbling through this blinding light, I run through the hallway finally reaching the front door. I see everyone running around like they have all gone mad, pointing up at the sky. Many are wearing only what they went to bed in, while others are wearing nothing, but that was the least of their concerns. I look up into the sky. The beauty I see brings tears to my eyes it is breathtaking. Our solar system fills the sky with planets and stars so numerous that it feels like we can touch them
Our universe is collapsing upon itself… it is our end. The end of everything we know, and yet, it is stunning. Then, once more, we all turn to dust.
Kipp Poe Speicher