Like dominoes falling in a predestined line, the world around me reacted in the same fashion. Everything in my vicinity collapsed, first originating from behind the creature that was, unfortunately, within my grasp as blurry swirls of squared images before then flipping on their axes, twisting around me until I was engulfed whole.
It all happened in a matter of seconds. Before I could react and get away, the scream from the man below was the last thing I had any comprehension of before everything was replaced anew.
Replaced and replicated into a new image.
A new, yet all too familiar, world.
Oh no . . .
And in that new image of a different world, I found myself falling. Before I knew what was happening, I was already landing on my feet, bracing myself upon impact and shaking off the slight startlement of the unexpected descent down.
Is this the same place?
Now standing at my full height and no longer crouched in a weird position, I was able to look around without any restrictions, and the first thing I noticed while my own thoughts and feelings were put on a momentary hiatus, was the fact the graying man from before was no longer around.
The same place that destroyed everything.
However, the second and more startling thing I noticed was the noise. The foremost being the amount of chatter that permeated the area like I was in the midst of a gym class with four classes playing a game of dodgeball.
Which, by itself, was utterly strange. We didn't have a lot of people living in my town. Everyone usually migrated East towards bigger cities like Ann Arbor or Detroit leaving behind our farm lands to the Amish or retirees.
We didn't even have a Walmart. All we had was a dollar store and a little convenience store the kids in my grade like to call The Bell. Mr Jefferson did make the best sandwiches there.
The very place that made me see things that shouldn't be there? That were never there before?
The third being the colors. Everything looked cloudier, grayer. Washed out. Like there was some sort of filtered lens covering my eyes, and it wasn't due to it being so dark outside in general, either; the old brick building that was an aged red color now sported a gray color and no longer hand the old fire escape attached to the side. The alleyway that had slabs of cream colored cement now looked cracked and decrepit like it hadn't seen a day of maintenance since it was first laid down a million years ago. And then the sky, now dark and cloudy like it was nighttime.
Maybe it was nighttime . . .
And then the fourth and final thing I noticed before the panic ensued, was the smell. And, no, it wasn't a bad smell. It was quite the opposite, in fact. Something smelled good. Mouthwatering.
If I wasn't experiencing a panic attack right about then, and also coming to the realization that I no longer had the black, fluffy turd creature in my grasp any longer, I would have been actively searching for that wondrous smell.
But, that wasn't the case.
I was there again. In that world. In that place that started it all.
A different reality. A different dimension.
The very same place that ruined my life . . .
That gave me . . .
My heart palpated in my chest, my breath came out in rapid, irregular puffs of air. It felt like I was breathing in fire; my chest burned with every breath I took as panic overtook all my senses.
Blindly, I backed up until my back hit the other brick building in the alleyway; a building that use to home a resale shop. Now, I didn't want to know what lied inside.
All I wanted was to go home.
I didn't belong here.
My fingers pulled at the ends of my hair near my collar before moving to my red jacket to grip the top zipper in a nervous, habitual gesture. Pulling the collar up, I tucked my chin inside the collar of my jacket, letting my hot, rapid breath warm over my chin and neck. Reminding me that I was still conscious. Still lucid.
Were they going to come for me like the last time I stumbled into this world and ruin my life all over again? Would more things that shouldn't be there start appearing all over again? Freaking me out to the point of hospitalization?
I couldn't go through that again.
The confused looks morphing into hate and disgust. The stares, the laughter, the taunting. It was all coming back to me. Eyes that I could never escape following my every move. Judging, waiting for that final string to be pulled where everything unravels so they can watch and do nothing to help. To stop it. Even when that help was within their power and all they had to do was reach out.
Just reach for me. Please. I would have taken your hand.
Hands were a powerful tool, too bad everyone I knew kept them warm in their own pant pockets as mine had grown cold.
My pockets had been torn off.
Being too caught up in my own world, I did not hear the door that hadn't been there in my own world, suddenly open, and out stepped a humanoid dark blue frog in an apron and green, baggy pants.
Right next to where I was standing.
The frog cupped its hands near its mouth, not yet noticing my wide eyed stare, and when the hand nearest me fell from its face, a cigarette was in its place between its froggy lips where it took a long drag off it then blew it in my general direction.
Our eyes locked. We both froze. The smoke sizzled out around me, watering my wide eyes as they stayed locked onto the frog creatures. My heart felt like it was going to leap from my chest with how hard it was pounding into my ribcage. But before one of us could react, something caught my attention off to the side of my vision.
Around the corner of the building that used to be the Wine and Cheese brick and mortar store hoovered the black, fluffy bastard that was now the root cause of my most recent dilemma.
When we locked eyes, however, the static body frizzed out, then it took off around the corner and out of sight.
So, without further hesitation, I, too, took off after it. Again.
The frog creatures’ head moved with my sudden dash out of the alleyway but made no attempt to follow me. I had a feeling it was as bewildered as I was to see me as I was to see it, but I didn't want to stand around and find out.
For all I knew, it cooked up humans and served them on platters in the restaurant he walked out of. My stomach churned as the delicious smell from earlier wafted from the open door. Images of human body parts being dished out and arranged on a platter as other frog creatures devoured it raced through my mind.
The smell was no longer appealing to me anymore.
The chatter and noise from earlier grew louder as I rounded the corner, and when I took that sharp turn to chase after the fuzzball, knowing full well it could take me back in the same matter as it got me there, I hadn't been paying attention to where I was running.
And in taking that corner sharply, I ran into something, or someone, hard enough to make me fall back onto my jean-clad bottom.
"What the hell!" roared a vicious, nasal-filled voice from above me. Looking up from my perch on the ground, I was greeted to a large hand descending toward me and grabbing ahold of something on my head. Whatever he had grabbed, it pulled at a spot near my temples, hauling me up to my feet, and even further, so I was dangling high up into the air, above all the onlookers that were watching the spectacle I had unwittingly created. My hands reflexively clutched at the hands that grabbed me, circling my fingers around the course skin of the person's wrists.
I didn't know how my heart could take the amount of terror I was dealing it in the last ten minutes, but I was sure it was about to burst when I took in my surroundings at my new high angle for the second time since I’d arrived at this shithole of a place.
My small town that harbored only a couple hundred of equally dumb people was now buckling with moving bodies throughout the usually empty streets. Not even our underwhelming fall fest parade had these many bodies moving around. Rows upon rows of food littered the sidewalks with manlike bodies cluttering around it, hands shooting in the air while shouting out orders for their choice of--what I hoped was--food. Humanoid, and blatantly female, bodies paraded themselves in front of Thompson's bookstore, clad in very thin silk that barely covered their bodies, skin and silk colors ranging on the rainbow spectrum. Most of them had little spikes for eyebrows, but other than the spikes and skin tone, they looked relatively human.
But before my eyes could take in more of my surroundings from the high perch, I was soon dragged down and angled face-to-snout with a gigantic yellow boar.
“How dare ya run inter me yer lil’Sol-sucker.”
I couldn't see much of his body where he held me high in the air above him, but I had a clear view of his ugly porky mug. His--its?--face looked exactly like a pigs, but with bigger, rounder, and meaner looking brown eyes with a long smooth snout and yellowing tusks sticking out on either side of his mouth. He had rings punctured in his ears in different shapes and sizes with no consistency between his two pig ears. If he wasn't so big and didn't have actual human like arms and fingers, I'd think he was a normal pig that belonged to a tattoo parlor that used it for ear piercing practice.
Or belonged to a mob boss to help get rid of damning evidence . . .
Belatedly, I looked around for the little fuzzball I was chasing but couldn't find it within my now limited eyesight. My fear was palpable on my face knowing that I lost my ticket out of there. How was I going to get home now?
The humanoid boar started to laugh. I had to turn my head away because his breath was making me gag. If Pumbaa's breath was this bad, Timon was a really good friend. “Ya pickpocket me, Sol-sucker?” It snorted. An actual, pig sounding snort. “Ya run inta me and steal from me! Ya have no idea who'ur messin’ with, Sol-sucker.”
"I didn't do nothin'" I yelled in its face. Reaching back from my hold on his wrist, I grabbed at whatever he was holding on to near my temples and then froze.
It wasn't possible.
This wasn't right.
His fat, grubby, piggy, sausage fingers held tightly to something on my head that shouldn't be there. Something that had only appeared after my last visit to this godforsaken place as a semi-translucent, incorporeal form. A something only I could see.
No one else could see them, and they sure as hell weren't supposed to be real and touchable! My hands had always passed through them in the mirror!
Damn it. I wanted to cry again.
I had horns. Real horns. Not incorporeal horns that I had only just got used to seeing after my last visit to this shitfest of a world. Real, tangible horns attached to on either side of my head.
This place. . . This world was a literal Hell.