The faint pressure on my chest awoke me from my slumber. I opened my eyes, flinching at the sight of the small bird perched on my chest. It lazily fluttered away, vanishing somewhere in the canopy of the old growth trees hanging over me. I sat up, enraptured in the paradise I found myself in. Water lapped at pink shores; bubbles of light floated up from the surface of the pond.
Creatures stirred in the underbrush, but refused to come into the light, scared to approach me. I laid back. Wherever I had come from, my heart was racing and the creeping sense of unease I had originally laid claim to was gone.
A shuddering of the canopy caught my attention. The mossy leaves hanging down swung open. I got to my feet and staggered towards the blinding white light that poured through the leaves like a doorway.
Silence and birds.
I stood at the bank of the crystal clear water, transported to some other place in the forest. Almost appearing sentient, a log bumbling down the river stopped at the bank, beckoning me to get on. Even the knobs in its bark were conveniently placed footholds.
Trying not to think too much, I sidled onto the log and held on tight as it drifted away from the bank and back into the water.
The beauty of the forest became apparent once I was moving within it, but my peace didn’t last long. A bird overhead caught my attention. Its repetitive wingbeats stalled, and it hung motionless in the air, and then teleported backwards a few feet. It continued flying as if nothing was wrong, but glitching trails of light hovered over its feathers. I watched in awe, trying to fight off the creeping sense of dread once more. Something wasn’t right.
The water took on a green tint as the log bumped against the edge of a giant lily pad. The world was a green ocean marked with small lily pads as far as the eye could see. Without question I clambered off the log and onto the lily pad. The log sank beneath the waves, snapping out of existence as soon as it was fully submerged.
I climbed the curving path, winding up the mountain as the lotus pads growing out of the rock looked at me. Their stems shivered as they fought for an unobstructed view of my journey.
At the pinnacle was a house of bamboo. I stepped through the open doorway and approached the robed figure in red. It sat at a low table, hands busily involved in something. I extended my hand in greeting, but the sharp turn of their head caused me to falter. Their head was a lotus flower. It seemed to flex and open as its unseen eyes roved my form. Wordlessly it handed me a cup of tea and motioned for me to drink. Overwhelmed with thoughts, I didn’t turn it down.
I closed my eyes and allowed the warm liquid to run down my throat. I sighed, but quickly opened my eyes when a warm breeze tousled my hair. I recoiled at the darkness before me. I stood on a ceramic shore, with a dark abyss in front of me and tea rushing past my feet into the abyss below. I looked up and saw a giant pair of lips taking up the sky. It…was me.
I pulled the mug from my lips, and as I did so, I was tossed into the abyss, down the red throat, feeling something scratch my own throat as I fell.
I landed on a gray, sandy shore, with endless, placid, dull water stretching past the horizon. I was too confused to move.
Beneath the waves was a warm, pink, familiar glow. As it rose above the water and into the sky, the ocean churned and boiled. Pink bubbles rose as trees sprouted from the sand. I was back in the forest.
The chirping birds were replaced with frogs as I laid on my back, staring up at the shifting sky. The Eternal Sunset.
I shifted my head to look at my hands, and saw them glitching through the ground.
As the soothing, evening wind rippled through the leaves, I sighed. The feeling of unease began to evaporate as I watched a bird lag and glitch through a tree, and then gently land on my chest.