Cellophane crinkles my face and hands as I push myself forward into this secret entrance, the tension building until I hear a tear and the sensation of empty air again– my feet catching me before my balance betrays my stance– I look ahead and I am in a tunnel. It stretches on with a light at the end, a deep funnel of darkness that welcomes the tiniest trickle of vision for me to go ahead. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I think, and my footsteps ricochet blue soundwaves that frame the darkness.

Up ahead, three more steps. Now, turn to the left.

The voice in my head is clearer now than it’s ever been, not so much a sound but a thought that comes to the front of my mind. I obey and my hand reaches for a knob on a door that I did not see was there. The inconsistency makes me irritated, my senses playing some tricky game that makes me feel less sure of whether to trust them. The knob feels sweet and sharp in my hand, a raw potential that makes my guts a little uncomfortable. A door before the light at the end of the tunnel?

For maintenance.


You’re coming back, you know.

Oh, you mean I don’t get to die yet?


Just as well, I think, and I cross through the threshold and step on a street. No, a walkway. My view is cluttered by stars up ahead, whether or not they’re my own doing or real I can’t tell and I don’t pretend to care. My head plays enough tricks on me I don’t pay much heed; but they float and bob and dance and the lights are so mesmerizing I hope that they are real; if not, I admire my imagination.

There’s a prodding in the back of my neck to follow a path along monumental water fountains. I meander somewhat to take in the view. The stars rain their light down gently on the water, which throws it back up again to dance some more. Different colored specks comprise a depth I can see but not fathom.

Press on.

A small gate glows into my vision, a feeling of urgency overcoming my great discovery. I swing myself through and pull the gate shut; and I pause, petrified, because there’s something in the air that shouldn’t be and there aren’t any more stars dancing.

Stay put.

Silhouette flying against darkness, a blot even darker. I stand in plain sight, blood pumping getting me ready to run, animal instincts kicking in against my better insights. The figure lands all wings and legs and raven heads, drawing itself standing, walking straight my way.

Took you a while to find your way this time, dontcha think?

When you’re in the in-between, things can get a little convoluted…

I’m sorry, I don’t…

Just took a wrong gate.

I’ve waited for a while.

Well don’t make me wait now,

Took a wrong gate?

Don’t ask, crow boy.

I just–

It’s fucking Raven. Just go that way.

Pointing a wing to one gate in a row of many and now I can see another figure– tall, thin, and steady– saunter away.

Feathers fly and grab me by the arm and I jump, the alarm stark on my face and the human bird laughs, says, just had to scare you to make sure.


That you’re real. Real puny, too. What are you doing eavesdropping in the middle like that?

Stretching to my fullest height he still looms over me and I am not about to betray my frightened state. I’m just going through.

You’re a fresh face, don’t reckon the Lady’s hired you too?

Quick to catch my only chance to figure out what my new plan is, I agree and say I got to keep up with him otherwise I’m screwed. Sixth sense always comes to my rescue; the flavor of these two are unmistakably readable but context is a bit obscure. I don’t wait for permission and instead make my way to the same gate the other crossed, and to cover my tracks, yell, the Lady thanks you!

I slam the door shut behind me, and on the other side it’s very, very bright. I look around. No tall figure. I turn 360 and he’s nowhere to be found; no gate behind me either. My chest wiggles uncomfortably; my emotions have caught up with my chase and I am a jam of ecstatic, nervous bewilderment. Half an hour ago I was in plains in Colorado, now I’m in a desert.


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