I am in a canoe, navigating a cool, milky-green river alone. The sun is sparkling on the surface, not enough to be bothersome to my eyes, more like a steady reflection of a sunbeam faded into sepia tones. I breathe in and it fills me up far more than seems possible, and I’m so perfectly contented to paddle along full of the sky.
I come to an inlet, one of those that seem so unnatural along a river bank, made of fine white sand. Pointing my canoe to shore I feel the soft impact as I land, and I hop out into the shallows to bring my canoe up the beach. I rustle around for my pack and step out onto the grass, which is impossibly green, headed for a cabin on stilts. It is massive, built of hewn logs as big around as Brontosaurus legs, and it’s an intense climb to the small outlook at the top.
Exhausted I finally pull myself onto the cabin’s wraparound porch and just lie there breathing for a few moments. The air around me has developed a thickened quality as I’ve climbed, and I find it difficult to stand even now. I have to dig through the air, more solid than humid, until I finally make it the three remaining feet to the cabin door and swing it open. Falling inside the door slams behind me, and the inside of the cabin ceases to feel heavy and the air here is in fact a bit sweet tasting.
I throw my pack into a chair in the front room and pant over to the window to gain a view of things. It’s like being inside Baba Yaga’s House on Chicken Legs extended into the sky, and I can see for miles.
A horrifying purple eye as large as the window itself appears blocking out everything else, and moves quickly, the pupil narrowing upon seeing me inside. The expression carries no malice or softness, rather it is curious. After it disappears, I slide over to the sill and peer out. A giant bobcat Is prowling around the cabin, it’s purr is so deafening that it is slowing the air, making it denser, the closer it is to the cabin. I am fully aware that by accident or otherwise, should it catch me and play with my little body, I’d surely end up dead.
This knowledge, alongside the fact that staying in the cabin I am guaranteed safety, makes me feel trapped and eager to leave more than contented to remain sheltered. Somehow it seemed he could read my thoughts, “If you wish to reach your boat be wise, I am leaving now, but soon my brother will come, and he is far larger than I.” He seemed to speak entirely inside my mind, then with a massive leap headed off clearing miles in a single bound and disappearing into the trees.
I left my belongings and ran outside. The air was clear and I seemed to slice through it as I clambered down the ladder-like legs of the structure. I could feel as I hit the grass that the air was becoming denser, and understanding it as a harbinger of the terrible cat, I ran in desperation, slowly moving slower and slower. I gained the canoe at a crawl, shoving it gracelessly into the water then dumping myself over the side.
When I felt brave enough, I looked over the side and at first saw only fur. The beast was so enormous as it sat on the shore that it appeared that I was next to some island made entirely of fur. His eyes were as big as houses, like the dogs from the tinder box fable. He watched me make my way downstream, but made no attempt to follow me, and I knew that I was safe, But that it would watch me along the rest of my journey.