The dream was always the same.
It started off simple enough; green grass, yellow flowers, and a cool breeze filtering across a wide open plain. With the tinkling of a pleasant stream behind her, Jaqueline closed her eyes and soaked in the moment, letting the gentle rays of the sun warm her face.
Her porcelain skin felt amazing. She pulled her fingers through her long black hair and rubbed her arms and shoulders. Birds and bugs chattered all around her. She could hear the fluttering of butterflies in the grass. She opened her eyes.
A small doe stood picking at the grass by its feet, biting and chewing in a continuous motion. Jaqueline smiled and approached the animal. It did not look up; it only continued to bite and chew, oblivious to her presence. She touched its thick fur just behind its shoulder blades. The coarseness of it surprised her. It was very thick and stubby. She rubbed its flank, feeling the warmth attach itself to her hand, felt the muscles pump underneath the skin and its heart and organs churning inside the animal's torso.
The doe made a munching sound, enjoying the bountiful feast of the thick grass. The chirping of the birds, the chattering of the insects and the sound of the doe made a harmonious noise around the young woman and she enjoyed every moment of it.
Jaqueline laughed. She grabbed the hem of her dress and stepped away from the animal to spin around in circles on the grass. After several turns, she fell down, giddy and giggling. She felt dizzy as she rolled on the lush carpet. It felt warm and pure on the soft grass. She closed her eyes.
She wished her life could be so simple and pleasant. It felt so real, so vivid, lying in the soft, prickling grass; she did not realize or even feel like she was dreaming. She wanted it to be real, for this to be the way it was for all time. She wished that there was some way to make it a reality, to be free and able to do whatever she wanted.
A gurgling sound startled her. Jaqueline blinked and sat up. She looked over at the doe and saw it choking. Alarmed, she stood and went over to the animal. It cried, a pitiful sound that grated her nerves. It shook its head and tried to dislodge whatever it was that was choking it. It started backing away.
Jaqueline did her best to comfort it by rubbing its back again but it bucked and shuddered, almost knocking her over. She stumbled back and covered her mouth, startled by the animal's behavior.
The doe started convulsing. Blood spewed from it mouth and nostrils. Jaqueline screamed. The animal dropped to the ground and started rolling on the grass, kicking its legs in the air. Blood covered the entirety of its face and began pumping out of its backside; stool and blood mixed together in a gushing stream.
Jaqueline backed away, shaking her head. Tears ran down her face. She glanced at the ground, almost as if seeing it for the first time. The grass was wilted and black. Fungi, thick and rotten, covered the surface of the meadow in an endless blanket of filth. The doe had eaten it. The trees were also affected, scorched and blackened by some unnamed force. The vegetation everywhere was rotten to the core. The insides of the trees held maggots and other disgusting insects that writhed around and crawled over the surface.
She glanced back at the doe and stifled another scream. The animal was eviscerated, its guts splayed over white bone and red pulpy flesh. Two small creatures, black as pitch, chewed and fought over the foul remains like rabid dogs, snarling and hissing. Jaqueline backed away further, afraid to scream out lest the creatures become alerted to her presence and come after her. They frightened her like nothing she had ever seen before.
Taking one step at a time, the young woman backed away from the horrible scene, putting as much distance between herself and the ghoulish display as possible. The two creatures ignored her for the time being, but she did not feel secure in her ability to run fast enough should they focus their attention on her.
On her next step, there was nothing but air underneath her foot. She stumbled down and scrambled with her arms to try to arrest her fall down a steep slope. She managed to grab hold of the rocky ledge but the rocks there were searing hot. Crying out in pain, she let go and slipped down. Her hand found another rock and even with the burning pain, she managed to hold on.
Down below was madness.
Glancing behind her, Jaqueline saw the steep slope slip down into smoke. Horrendous sounds of agony wafted upwards. There were voices, voices full of sorrow and pain. They were bestial and brutal and promised to rend and tear whatever came their way into the smoke. The voices cursed and belted out such a vile litany of curses Jaqueline blanched at their vulgarity.
The stone under her hand was too hot. She tried to switch hands but lacked the strength to pull herself up any further. Jaqueline gasped and let go and snatched at other stones lodged in the edge of the slope, but found no purchase. The rocks were not sturdy enough to hold her and she tumbled into the pit, screaming.