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Pisces' Dream: The Land of the Dead II

February 2, 2009 [Nightmares Flaw]

You wash up on shore, your scarves and wrappings clinging fast to your clammy skin. You are alone.

The black water you cough out of your lungs tastes of something fermented and has a thick phlegmy feel to it. The shore you crawl onto is composed of bleach-white sand. As you push yourself upright and brush it off of your body, you are horrified to find that it seems to be composed of bone meal and fractured teeth. The sky above you looks like a sepia photograph coated in the same hazy film that makes gasoline rainbows appear in parking lots. The sun shines unrelentingly overhead as you start to walk.

At first there is nothing to see aside from the black sea behind you and the white wasteland ahead. You keep moving, hoping to find something or someone. Eventually, you can see a clutch of figures ahead, all stooped under a dead, gnarled tree. You run toward them, hoping they'll know where you are.

There are seven of them: TJ Phillips, Mona Ramsey, Bojan Petrov, Lucas Brighton, Auberon Xerices, Sam McCoy, Ash Gently. All of them sit huddled in the scarce shade, looking even paler than they did in unlife - the exception being Petrov, whose body been charred a crackled ugly black.

Mona has had her left eye slit open. It sags outwards from it's socket and yellowing humors have crusted over her face. TJ's visage is riddled with puckered bullet holes, as is McCoy's. Lucas has a small red line around his neck, but otherwise grins unendingly with a permanent rictus, where his cheeks have split open from smiling. Auberon merely lies crumpled with his face buried in his hands. It takes you a few moments to realize that they are playing some sort of card game. You don't understand the rules, but it takes you very little time to realize that everyone is cheating save Auberon, who merely intones the word "fold" in a polite monotone each round.

None of them seem to notice you, in spite of any noise or gestures you make. You ask them over and over where you are and what they're doing here. Somewhere in the back of your head, you know this is a foolish question.

Eventually it is Ash - now gaunt, shaven and jaundiced - who looks up at you. His eyes dart from side to side as he points toward the horizon, where you can see three figures running in the distance across the dunes. You catch the glint of a gold flecked scarf and a breeze blows a heady scent of cinnamon across your face.

You know who they are.

You dash toward them, suddenly realizing your feet are bare as they catch at lumps and edges lying beneath the cool sand. You have a hard time keeping your balance as you dart toward the three travelers, the ground seems to shift and jostle under your feet, until you look down and see to your horror that you are treading on a sea of transfixed human faces. Old men, young women, children even... all staring up from the sand at you. You push yourself harder and look away. You shudder as you think you can feel one of them snap at your ankles.

You lunge forward and your sides burn as you try to stay balanced, but the outlines of your lost family fade mirage-like as you tumble downward. Hurt and enraged, you are surprised to find yourself caught up in the tangle of someone else's strong, unyielding arms.

Gene turns you round to face him. You have but an instant to realize that in this place he is the only colorful thing you have seen, as you begin to lash out at him, frenzied and despairing. His face is one of shock as you bury your teeth animalistically into his throat and the blush begins to fade from his cheeks.

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