Underneath the Canopy
Blood runs cold and a sense of nauseating sickness settles in the core of my being. Everything stills to a motionless and neutral gray silence as the surrounding environment blurs and darkens. The weight of the ground beneath caves through and sends me plummeting downward into the endless pitch. Only a piece of my former self is left behind, a faint point in time growing dimmer beneath this suffocating darkness.
Reality was shown before me in the raging eye of Ra. Unrelenting rays cast off by a spiteful sun beat over my stinging skin with an almost rhythmic ferocity. The dry rust capped plateau extended along the horizon, punctuated by climbing spires frantically clawing at the fiery sky. The sweltering hot currents kicked the sand beneath up into unending wisps of bone meal sent flying continually outward. A looming silence prevailed over these Badlands. Only dry heat filled my dusty lungs, drawing what moisture was left from within my crumbling soul. It soon became apparent that the encompassing wasteland would prove unbearable. A quick glance to the left revealed the lush thickness of Jungle which extended parallel among the barren aridity of this unforgiving place. Conjoined almost mockingly by the infinitesimal border between the two worlds. Everything around me seemed too concrete.
Exasperated, I struggled to crawl and seek sanctuary within the wet, shady haze of the jungle. Water vapor encapsulated me as I entered, immediately cooling the memory of the Badlands. A low, aural hum could be heard emanating from within the Jungle. It felt alive in a sense, reverberating and panning between the walls of my mind in an inconsistent pattern that could only be lucidly heard through my paranoia. My eyes dart from stem to creeper, desperately trying to find something to identify with amongst the chaotic tangle. The humidity could be felt permeating through millions of porous openings, dilating and contracting to that same hell-beaten rhythm. I got to my feet and looked out over the Jungle - boundless and vast, the undergrowth parted on long, eternal, twisting lines originating from where I stood. The overwhelming possibility of choice consumed me.
Which path should be taken?
No matter, each seemed equally uncertain from that point in time. I made my choice and began walking toward the heart of the Jungle. The dense brush swept against my body. No, against my outline. Each path split apart into a complex labyrinth: infinite serpentine passages extending, wavering through unfathomable depths of vine and verdant nothing. A shallow opalescent Fog accumulated around my legs as I trudged deeper within. The further I progressed the more it engulfed me until I become lost in it. Walking a long a path barely seen but touched, a cold shadow of uneasiness brushed my empty mind.
Simply my imagination?
Dead in my tracks, I tuned in to the frequency of the swelling behemoth and just listened. The drone now branched into five new sounds, each more abrasive than the last. I can only describe it as a sharp twinge of steel piercing through the dark whispering electric undertones of the Jungle's moan. As each sound transformed and took on new character so did my thoughts. The smog shifted.
A dark figure rushed past the edge of my peripheral vision and just as quickly blurred from reality. Panic. Encircling mists transform into a swirling crimson. Blinding fear gripped me amidst the hissing vapor - thorn and briar tore at my leg as I bolted onward. The growth became alive with contempt, pulling and ensnaring me to keep me from the path. One image splintered into seven. Time slipped by in an instant, but seemed ageless and eternal. Trying to fasten my eyes shut against the rapid onslaught of spiraling fear, they held nothing but abysmal empty void. But wait, a clearing up ahead - salvation, light, an exit to break free from the mist and all its unseen terror. Run for your life, man, run.
Just when I thought I had escaped the rapid pulsation of the Jungle's terror I fell. Fell straight through and into quicksand, swallowed and swirling further and further downward as my entire world gave way to the fast rushing sound as if reality itself was being sucked through a wind tunnel. My mind's throbbing cadence screams and blares through the flight, correlating with the pulse of the drowning vibrations of the grove. It called to me, wanting to snare me within its grasp. I fought to keep myself. Escape seemed elusive; my exit had left. All had vanished and hysteria ebbed throughout. Gray matter from within my skull shattered and refabricated in another actuality.
Is this the end?
I opened my eyes. Jimi Hendrix wailed on his guitar over the radio singing something about sandcastles. I looked around for a moment trying to regain my equilibrium and make sense of where I was. My roommate walked in and asked, "Are you ok man? You don’t look so swell." I just stared at him for a moment and managed, "We're going to have to ask that guy down at the market what he's trying to pull." My friend just looked at me confused and said, "What do you mean?" I just shook my head and reminisced of those tasty stuffed portabella mushrooms I had for lunch.