Kai’s Dream

Kai dragged her feet down the dusty road to the five and dime. The cicadas where taking a siesta  in the wilted trees, whose shade provided no comfort for the little panda girl fanning herself lazily with one hand. A sundress hung from her waist, and she desperately hoped for a stronger breeze to ruffle them but only hot gusts of air came and brush by her flushed face. It was like someone opened the door to the oven and all the air was gushing out.

She’d moved down here with her foster parent for the summer, and there was absolutely nothing to do here. There was no kids around. It was a pit stop, there was a gas station that sold little souvenirs, and a little mom and pop restaurant that was dolled up to catch the eye of a weary traveler. That’s where Kai was heading, but at this point she doubted if she’d make it without collapsing.

There was a dead deer on the side of the road in a ditch. It was bloated with maggots. The panda wrinkled her nose and picked up a stick to probe it with. A cloud of flies surfaced in her investigation and she dropped the stick and fled down the road from their infuriating buzzing.

A gust of conditioned air fluffed her short hair. Her eyes adjusted to the quiet, albeit greasy inside of the restaurant. There was a long stretch of counter with sweetie pie red stools nailed to the floor. Posters of hamburgers and Norman Rockwell replicas hung all over the walls. There was an old jukebox in the corner that didn’t look like it had been touched in years. Other than the two old men that where playing checkers in the corner of the room (she suspected that they lived here since they where always in the same position), and the woman watching some stupid soap opera on a little boxy TV, Kai was the only one here.

The counter lady snapped her bubble gum and smiled as Kai took a seat at the counter, her hot legs stuck to the cold leather like duct tape. She felt as if her butt cheeks had become one anatomical feature. Kai plucked at her stubby panda tail.

“A root beer float please.” she said.

When did her life get so boring? Didn’t she used to muck up the plans for the bad guys in Chicago? Wasn’t she the one who put glue in the geaser’s hairgel? She can almost hear a familiar voice admonishing her: Trust me- the upkeep of  being an anti-hero gets expensive.

The lady set down a mug of rootbeer with icecream sloshed over the sides. She tried to mop up with a couple of napkins which turned them into brown goop. She took a few sticky sips and stuffed the remaining napkins in her pits, and used the rest as coasters for her elbows to keep them from sticking on the counter. Eventually, her eyes closed and thought about nothing but the AC hum.

The dirt road was still hot out when she finally left the store. Dust rose as she trudged along; the shadows and shapes had lengthened. The cicadas had stopped their fiesta and she imagined their beady little eyes watching her from the trees. The smell of decay creeped up into nose, and she pinched it shut… but it didn’t block the dead dear. Her eyes watered as she swatted away flies, noseeums and mosquitoes. She moved to the opposite side of the road, putting as much space as she could between herself and where the body was.

Where are you going child?

The deep thrumming voice slithered through the ground. She spun around wildly. In the ditch on the opposite side of her came the voice, right where the deer would be if she took a few more steps to peer at it. She wasn’t sure what exactly had come over her but she was rooted to the spot and trembling.

Don’t you remember me?

The voice was impossibly deep. Was the deer talking to her? There was a strange, wet sucking sound, something demonic, something dead moving, shifting.

We were once very well acquainted yes, in my dreams I do believe. 

Suddenly life was screaming for her to move, and electricity is was charging through her legs. She ran so fast color blurred into greys. She’s got to get away from that… thing… that voice…
Lighting ripped through the once calm sky, and suddenly it was raining. Sharp rocks bit into Kai’s feet, and she slipped and fell like a log. The road had become a river, a river of black oil, slimy and dangerous. As she continued to toil along it became deeper and deeper until suddenly she couldn’t run any further, she gasped, struggling to find purchase and her fingernails clawed at anything to hold unto, but there are nothing but sharp slippery rocks, like jagged pointed teeth. She was going to be swept away into the big unknown, and when they found her again she’d just be a big bloated body of decaying white flesh, swarmed with parasites. Her body itched and she squirmed, but the oil held her body fast.

Something was coming for her- like a bobbing green lantern leaping from rock to rock. She was transfixed as it drew closer and closer, before it suddenly landed right before her. It was not a lantern… it towered over her in a wreathe of great billowing flames. Great antlers burst from a skull from a deer or elk, wreathed in a totem of flickering green. It’s fangs where the size of her arm. The oil before it shimmered, a resplendent, upside down visage of its presence.

Kai screamed. She could tear her eyes away from it, the oil was sucking her slowly down… down down…

Don’t run away.

As it stepped on the oil, those gigantic bony claws floated on the rippling surface, causing sparks and igniting it. A wring of fire grew around the beast. Lightning hungrily licked at its flesh as its long neck craned towards her. Warmth radiated from its empty eyes, distorting the skull face like dripping wax, observing Kai’s demise. The oil has almost claimed its prize, sucking her in- past her waist, her arms, until only her head remained.

I am so lonely here, won’t you stay…? Be my fire. My shining star. She read once that small animals could die of fear, mice, small birds… voles. Right now she felt very very small. The surface of the oil was creeping up to her eyeballs… her world is shimmering darkness of heat.

Someone was yelling, she can’t tell where it was coming from. Muffled voices are coming in like a bad radio station

“Git her some water.”

“I think she’s waking up.”

“You here me? Git’er some water! Shove it down in there!”

The little panda clutched her chest, opening her eyes very slowly. It still felt like the oil was sucking her down, and her fur itched from bugs warming her body. The room was spinning around like a carousel. After a moment Kai realized that was soaked to the bone with, not rapid waters as she’d previously thought, but with soda pop and ice cream. Kai sighed, and her head thunked on the floor of the Mom and Pop store. Two old men and counter lady fussed over her.

“You toppled right off the back of the stool.” the lady, dabbed her forehead and made her sit up to drink water out of a plastic cup. “Lawds you scared us. You sure where having a fit on the floor. Wheres your momma or dad?”

Kai couldn’t hear her. She slowly became aware of something crumpled in her hand. It was a napkin. She unfolded it absentmindedly, unceasing it, about to discard it when her eyes caught the sight of the stain in its middle….

They where words. It looked like ink, but it smelled like oil.

I want you back in my dreams.

“Nox.” she said, and felt an old fear poison her veins.

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~ by komicks on August 7, 2011.

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