Rain pelted the soil just outside the mouth of the cave, so close in distance but worlds away. The cave was cool and damp with beads of water running like sweat down an arched back. The rock was smooth and hard beneath my shaking hands -- hands that migrate with a mind of their own up the spine and back around the shoulder.

The cave burst suddenly, a barely audible gasp, and the walls were illuminated with millions of speckled lights, shining like stars in the blackest of nights. I returned to reality and saw myself, or my body at least, scraped and bloodied and clumped with mud, slithers of fabric hanging from what used to be a beautiful dress. The higher you are, the farther you fall, they say. So, I laughed. 

My hand continued to search, hiding the glittering walls with a dark slinking outline. The cave turned and wound endlessly, and the stone tickled my fingers and toes. The air was still and sacred, and smelled old old old, as if no one was supposed to be there, I least of all. When I reached the last corner, I knew the end was there before I rounded it. Finalization rang out soundlessly and the gods became excited around me. The air began to shift and unsettle and the stars danced and sang and prayed.

Around the corner was a small room that seemed to grow in brightness with each passing second. The stars on the walls were rushing into the circle, as if sentient and ready to attend some great play. In the center of the room, as if this were all a joke, was a small glass ball resting on a jagged uprising of rock. Such a simple thing, it seemed, to travel so far for. I walked up to the rock and the air became electric. The entire universe paused to urge me to touch the small sphere, and for a moment I rested upon the Earth with the greatest power I would ever have: the power over my own destiny. But the gods are not stupid, and they let humans do their most important bidding because our curiosity can never be satiated.

I picked up the sphere and everything disappeared. The world did not spin around me and there was no rush of air. It was as if I had been standing there, my entire life, on those sunny plains that stretched wider than life itself. The sky was as clear and delicate as tempered glass and the breeze made bright green waves in the grass. It was so beautiful, but my stomach began to sink as I placed the perversion of this paradise. The living did not come here, and a greater sickness descended upon me as I realized that the gods did not come here, either. I doubled up and expelled onto the ground.

The End

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