by Chris Nelson
The sky is dark, lit only by the smoldering brush that spreads out as far as the eye can see. A young girl makes her way across the burning field. She finds a path of obsidian gravel, the crackle of fire ringing in her ears.
She follows the path for hours. It winds back and forth across the seared land. The fear of remaining lost here forever begins to tug at her stomach. There hasn’t been a single soul in the time she’s been walking. A few blurs of motion appear in the distance. But as she approaches, she is met with clouds of smoke.
Longer and longer she walks, her head down. An unfamiliar rasp meets her ears. She looks up to see a scorched bush, dark shapes shifting along charred branches, partially hidden behind the glowing leaves.
She moves nearer, her steps drawing her closer. A frail voice limps across her mind. Help…
Peering through the bush, she speaks hesitantly. “Hello?” Her voice rings out over the endless field. Eyes reflect the embers when the first bat hobbles along the branch.
Help us. The voice is stronger in her mind as she meets the gaze of the bat. He raises a claw slowly. Behind him other eyes peek out. We are dying. Help.
“How?” Her fingers clench at the fabric of her shirt.
Let us inside of you. Carry us out. We can no longer fly.
She hesitates, trembling, before she reaches forward to allow him to crawl up to her mouth. He slides in, tucking in his claws and slips down her throat. The others follow one by one. The last bat follows down into her stomach, and she starts along the path once more. The crackling of the field is cut by the voices inside her.
She feels them moving around inside of her, claws pinching, scrapping. In the distance the glowing burn of the field drops into blackness. She rounds a corner of the winding path and notices a flickering light that stands out from the other fires at the beginning of the darkness.
She walks she watches. This light disappears for brief periods as she moves closer, always reappearing when she turns another curve.
The bats distract her from it as they move, pushing and clawing from within. She can feel their talons slicing into her stomach, the sting of the acid before her body can compensate. She forces herself on though while whimpers escape her lips. In the pain she loses track of time.
Rounding the corner, she looks up. The expansive blackness stands before her. In the center of the path lies an onyx door; its polished surface reflecting the flickering embers.
The girl peers behind the door. She can sense more than see the drop below.
She walks towards the gleaming door. At a slight touch the door swings open and she is blinded momentarily by the harsh fluorescent lights reflecting off the white tiles around the porcelain bowl in the center.
Her eyes adjust and she moves as fast as she is able to the basin. She stumbles into it, her hands hitting the rim. Reaching up, she shoves a finger between her lips, gagging. Blood spatters across the white porcelain and she sputters, gagging as the tears come. She forces her fingers down in desperation, the blood hitting the surface with a sickening sound. She feels claws in her throat and the first bat falls into the basin motionless.
She feels the other bats struggling while she forces more out.
Black bodies fall against the thick red coating the bowl.
Chris Nelson is an eclectic amalgamation of interests ranging from passion in knowledge to fascination with the strange. Her works draw on the horrors and wonders found in her life and the stories of those around her. She is majoring in English and Psychology at Santa Barbara City College.