The damp sod squishes between bare toes, the mud cooling. A cigarette burns between yellow fingers. Slow deep inhales, slow exhales. The thick plumes hang in the humid air, shrouding the trees in smog.
A figure approaches. The sound of soft plops fall in-between the staccato chorus of crickets. They sing intermittently with each step. Chirp, plop, stop. Chirp, plop, stop.
With features indecipherable, and yet, instantly recognizable, the figure becomes clear through the haze.
“What are you doing here?”
A long, slow drag. The light embellishes the plumes of smoke against the twilight, mosquitoes dancing around the senses. Fireflies flash signs of acknowledgement. Flies whirl inside ear drums.
There are a lot of bugs out here tonight.
“They need you in there.”
A stroll out of the woods into more familiarity. Alone again, but with purpose. Beyond the trees and into the fray. Soft gravel and broken tar grate against hurried footsteps. Everything is intimate, but distorted. From fog to fire, perched upon the terrace of the haven of destination, the harridan sits alone.
Face stark white, a toothless grin silhouetted by blood red lips. No acknowledgement, only the ear to ear grin, her open mouth a black hole, her sickliness embodied by her mask.
Inside, must get inside, must get past her.
“I’m here now”
Away, finally, in sanctuary. There she is, solicitor of support, possessor of anima, kindred spirit. A natural attraction. Her presence is freeing.
Hands lock, soft olive skin warm and inviting. A radiant smile, rich hazel eyes illuminating an expression; any and all expression, emotions encompassed. An embrace, arm in arm, chest against chest. Soft innocent kisses. Lips landing softly and sweetly, reassuring. Safety.
“I need your help finding…”
Then the butterfly.
Vibrant florescent wings flutter slowly…too slowly. An unnatural delay. Slower and slower motions, until it is nary but hovering. Still it floats across the room, like a swift cloud against an angry sky. Neon greens and blues dance like Rorschach’s, outlined by yellow and pink. It flutters again, this time in jagged motions, oscillating like the beep of a heart monitor.
Melting, fuzzy, fading. Bodies being pulled apart, fingers straining to remain intertwined. This oasis of vivid memory delves into a wave of confusion. The butterfly flutters around us, beautiful and menacing. It latches, tearing away flesh. Pouty lacerations open, a violent hello, seeping thick, bright red. A fruitless attempt to kiss again. The embrace is forced apart.
An ensemble of chaos ensues, but determination remains. Refuge and the grail are below. Remain steadfast, meet the challenge head on. Unfaltering, unyielding.
Searching on, through piles of filth, to no avail. Nameless faces come with their distractions, running up and down the stairs, flinging their bile and animosity. Gnashing teeth. Hooting. Clucking. A chorus of insanity.
Empty boxes, more empty boxes.
“Where the fuck is it?”
The foundation quakes, vertigo suspends action, forced into grasping for balance.
Beetles. Large beetles. Beetles the size of cats. They’re here. They’re crawling up through the concrete. They’re here to end the search.
Fear seizes, a moment of petrification, but it fades as fast as it arrived. Remain unwavering, accomplish the task. No matter what. Don’t give up. Help her.
“I think I’ve found it!”
Thrashing at the beetles, crawling, fighting, crawling to the surface. Must get to her. Have to get there, back to the surface, back on the level. Fight.
Have to fight for it.
Have to find it.
Where is it?