13. Dream... or Nightmare? (part 3)

          In the split second it took the princess to blink, the boy had once again been transformed into a man with his same features, and she herself had returned to her present self of eighteen years. He walked over to her, his strides long and silent, the crown on his head reflecting an unseen light source, a polite grin spread across his face. Kneeling down before her, he grabbed her hand and pressed it against his warm lips. Looking back up at her, he shot her a killer, knock-'em-dead smile, but then he too began to crumble away into the dust. Wait! Don’t go! What’s your name? she wanted to shout, but it seemed that her voice would not work, and he was already gone. She wanted to cry out and call the man back into existence, yet still her words were only spoken in silence. All she could do was wait for the next memory to come.

          Only this time, it wasn’t a memory. Images she’d never seen before flashed by, quick and short. One scene was there and then it wasn’t, immediately replaced by another, with no way for her mind to take everything in. Screams, growls, panting breaths, unrecognizable words rang in her ears. Hataru wanted to shut her eyes and roll up in a little ball and wait till it all disappeared, but she couldn’t. Her heart was racing. She could feel her dress cling to her back due to her clammy, sweaty skin. One image caught her attention. A spark, floating down from above, landed in front of her. From that spark burst forth a small, gentle fire. Crouching down, Hataru yearned to feel it’s warmth on her palms, but as soon as she stepped close, the fire reared up like a horse startled by a snake, towering over her.

Scrambling to get away, the princess’ feet tangled themselves in her own skirts as the fire swooped down towards her. A second before contact, when she could feel the tongues of flame on the nape her neck, Hataru jumped up and flew from the spot. Sprinting from the horror, she dared peer over her shoulder only to have fear strike her heart even more fiercely than before. The fire was chasing her, storming through the air like an angry cloud with the intent to kill. The screeching call of a bird echoed through the darkness that surrounded the girl and the flaring force of nature. Finally, her path came to an end. Before her lay a huge drop off; behind her burned the storm of flames. The fire encircled her, giving her two choices: jump or be consumed. With only the fear of the blazing heat on her back, Hataru leaped from the edge and began her plummet into the unknown.

          The fire was gone now, again she was surrounded by darkness, but this was not the nothingness. She could still hear the soft echoes of a screeching bird and the wind that whistled past her ear, and she could still feel her hair and dress blown upward as she fell through what seemed to be a bottomless pit. She did not enjoy the sense of weightlessness, however. Just as she was yearning for the sensation to stop, with a sudden jerk, a pair of invisible hands reached out and grabbed the princess under her arms, and her wish was granted. Another hand grabbed her ankle, and another her wrist, and yet another her hair. From every angle, the unseen hands darted out and grabbed a part of her, tugging her in all directions. The helping hands had turned out to be not so helpful at all. Screaming in pain as she was being pulled apart Hataru wiggled, kicked, slapped, and bit at the hands, anything to get them off of her. Her struggles only made them hold tighter and yank harder. Deep voices pealed out in laughter, and she knew that she could not escape. Her body went slack, giving in to the hands, only drawing back when one hand pulled too hard. But then her eyes opened wide and her body went stiff when one yanked so hard that her skirts began to tear. NOOOOOOOOO! LET GO OF ME! she shouted in a desperately vicious voice. At once, the hands let go and disappeared, allowing her to crash onto a cold, dusty floor below. Coughing and wheezing, she could not sit up. All she could do is lay where she had fallen, her lips parting and a scream racing up her throat.

The End

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