Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Key of Neverhence - Chapter 4: Paninae

A happy stew of song and spring stirred inside my soul. In the distance, I saw myself lying in an empty field, as if gazing at a picture far away. Nestled in the clouds sat a winding meadow where tiny froglings hopped through shades of gold and green, and a cheerful melody followed them through. Birds sang, and a breath of fresh air washed over me.

Stir the pot
Round and round
No telling
What you’ll find

Stir the pot
Raw and rough
The truth
Lies deep inside

Slowly I opened my eyes. Lurid hues and the smell of fresh roses nearly convinced me that I was still in Holloway Springs except for one notable difference: unlike the quaint little town, there wasn’t a faery for as far as the eye could see.

As I stood, the ground began to rumble. Creatures of the meadow hopped up and down, pointing to the sky.

Look look look
It must be for you
Look look look
It’s calling for you

A silver door materialized from the clouds, its markings pulsing with the swell of the lyrics.

Finally I’d had enough. “No more damned songs!” I screamed.

Abruptly the music stopped. Blue-tailed boggies, floppy-eared hoppers and winged piglets turned and stared. Now that was more like it.

A moment later the song began anew:

Call it over
That’s all there is
Call it over
See what it is

“I’m not calling over anything.” I turned and walked away.

The silver door slammed into the meadow. A wave of magic rushed over the land, painting the grass blue and sky pink.

I turned and considered the door, noticing it had only missed me by a few short feet. The etchings seemed vaguely familiar, a blend of Timaran and Elven scripts wrapped in intricate knots. I edged closer, eager to explore the grooves with my bare hands. Before my fingers could graze the surface, thousands of doors crashed into the meadow, lasting several moments until every eardrum had been completely shattered.

Cautiously I raised my head, hands and knees still shaking. Doors of every shape and size filled the meadow: some tall and slender with a light cream finish, others thick and wide and caked over with brash hues. One after another they stood, like an array of dominoes, culminating with the tall, cherry door before me.

“Quickly, quickly, choose one now,” said one of the floppy-eared hoppers.

“I don’t think that would be wise.” I scratched my mustache. Still I could not help but marvel at the zany assortment of wood and paint before me. In the distance a black door caught my eye, the largest in the meadow by far. “What is that?” I pointed.

“Oh, don’t let that one scare you.” A boggie with yellow peepers hopped on my shoulder. “It just represents all the faery kingdoms mixed into one.” Fire blasted from the door’s hinges. “At least that’s what my mommy told me.” He jumped down my robe.

I shook him off, and scanned over the doors. Each glowed with an inhuman energy, eager to regurgitate their grim secrets. “Perhaps some doors are better left unopened.”

“But you must pick one before it picks you,” the frogling croaked.

“The only thing I’m going to do is catch up on a little sleep.” I searched for a soft tuft of grass and plopped down. “Wake me up if it starts raining magic doors again.”

“But you can’t sleep—not here,” said floppy-ears.

“And why not?”

“Because you will only be dreaming about being asleep.”

“Huh?” The cottontail totally lost me.

“And what if you have a dream within that dream?” said the boggie.

“Or a dream within a dream within a dream?” said a flying piglet.

“Dreamlock,” they gasped.

“You will never find your way out again,” the piglet touched down next to me.

“For heaven’s sake!” I rose. “Now look-” But before I could say another word, the cherry door jumped forward and swallowed me.

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