There they were, finally, with a small sense of security. Approaching happiness, even, they sometimes ventured in cautious introspection.
Incredible, after everything that happened.
They shook their head, not wishing to dwell on the past. They looked up and tracked a large bird sailing east above the trees. They skipped and whistled, eyes twinkling.
They fall into a deep hole.
The more they try to escape, the more precarious their situation. The walls keep collapsing, burying them within mud, rocks.
They dig out a small space above their head and manage to keep it stable. A jagged patch of sky peers in. They can’t move their body more than a few inches in most directions.
A spite of panic bubbles into their throat. They feel they might burst.
They focus past the roots, dirt, bugs and lock onto the grey light, back there, where they were, in the world. Not under it. They steady their breath.
Without realizing it, in moments too brief to count, their body tension deflates and unconsciousness rides in on vivid dream.
She was alone in a large gondola strung below a small blimp. The craft sailed a few hundred feet above a tumultuous seascape, buffeted by occasional side winds, driven forward by an immense storm front, which she could hear and feel as a gut-churning rumble. She sat cross-legged on the thatched wire floor, watching the waves below.
The gondola was open at the top except for some support beams, but she dared not stand to peer over the rails. The floor was tilted towards the front at a steep pitch, such was the fierce velocity, and the whole structure, including the dark cloth above, convulsed and trembled periodically.
The floor seemed sturdy enough and she kept it close. In the diamond-shaped openings between the steel grate, the swelling sea did not seem so reassuring. Soon enough, the swells bunched together, then crested and crashed in lines as a frothy spray shot up. The blimp continued apace, first over earthen berms of giant rocks and concrete, then land. Warehouses, parking lots, building rooftops and city streets passed beneath.
Still, she felt unprepared when a large glass office building slid beside, towering above. A jolt of recognition rang through her as the blimp decreased its speed and began to deftly navigate the city streets.
The gondola resumed a proper horizontal. She stood, put her hands on the rail, examined her office clothes beneath the translucent rain gear.
A rope uncoiled beneath the floor towards the skyways and streets below. It caught and the blimp spiraled into a three-story open bay carved out of the side of an old skyscraper. Amid an ornate panoply of statuary and colonnade, fountains and ferns, veranda and terraces, a patio spun out to receive them.
Two other blimps were waiting, empty, on similar patios tucked away to the side of the bay. The rope was pulled taught, the floor magnetically locked, the blimp partially deflated and the gondola’s side folded out. She stepped confidently onto the polished stone. Two revolving doors turned slowly against the wall. She approached the left. The door’s turning quickened to match her pace.
Once inside, she turned her jaw at the air pressure change, paused for her eyes to adjust. The elevator’s doors were just starting to close across the crowded foyer. She dodged past knots of fellow commuters and got a hand within in time to cease the shutting. Amid some murmured moans, she packed herself inside the flesh can. She grabbed a handstrap just as the floor fell, gravity dropped, and they ascended together.
They kick their knee, once, twice. No resistance. A short debate, then down they go, into the hole their body had found. After some rooty tendrils, the tunnel opens and… there they are.
Themselves. Breathing — and seeing, even. Yes!
The walls are luminescent, or so it seems. The whole shebang might crumble and suffocate them at any second, but… There they are!
A few beats later, their confidence subsides and the path seems uncertain. The tunnel twists to the side, and, buttressed by a large boulder, narrows to a dark squeeze. Who’s to say what’s on the other side? When and why? Not to mention, where and what? What.
What? What is the question, so they thought.
Fingers, caressing digits, acting with purpose and love… They are there. Then everywhere. They pull themself down, inside and, down. They fall. A cavern, and there they are! They float before the assembled moalstirps.
The moalstirps’ bodies are huge and, by contrast, they — they are nothing, a thin strip. They dangle, wobbling in place, prostate, amid a sphere of greater being. A moalstirp approaches, with some of the luminescent wall in its beak. The giant carefully places the glowing debris onto the strip. On me.
The process continues a hundred fold and I am created. I am not of the earth. I am. I am it. I am the earth.
When they deem me done, I swing my appendages back and forth, gleefully. New tissue and sinew — strong, honed, ready. I breaststroke through the hall, then dive into the dark earth, easily passing through the rocky soil.
I swim round and round, warmly welcomed into each alcove as I tour this small slice of the great moalstirp strata. Still, I’m drawn to surface. Hindered by greater resistance the higher I get, I claw my way forward. I choke, fear I will not make it.
Digits reach for me, grasp my head, pull me out. The world rings loudly as I crawl into the light. Masked giants lift me up, inspecting.
L. Fid is a member of a pseudonymous arts collective dedicated to world domination.