I met him in a dream.
The forest floor was cushioned in moss and little white blossoms. Soft morning light illuminated a path of dew before me, paving itself as I stepped. The birds sang their reverie, gently pulling me in. I walked barefoot, relishing in the feeling of fresh, cool soil between my toes. There was no sky, no stars, no sun; above me the canopy of leaves went endlessly upwards. Light came from within the white petals of flowers as if they held the secrets of the universe inside.
I thought it must have rained earlier; mud was seeping through the ground. With each footstep, I sank further and further into the ground, leaving a trail of muddied flowers in my wake. Soon, I was down to my knees, using my hands to grasp at the roots of the great old trees to pull myself along. It was no use; the mud was sucking me in, paralysing me as if bound in concrete. The birds started laughing at me. Panic began to roll over my body in waves. Quickened breathing. Trembling hands. Burning heart. The sound of blood. Head under. No. Air. Left.
It was almost too late for me. But something, someone, threw a sturdy vine into my hands. I grabbed it with all my remaining strength and pulled myself out, inch by inch, from the mud. The air filling my lungs was sweet, like honey. Caked in mud and clay, with no path before me, I followed the vine.
I found him there, his eyes burning like two embers in a pit. Coming out of the side of his head were two twisted horns of petrified wood. I walked closer. He was covered in small black feathers which were coated in something sticky and dark, maybe tar, or blood. I saw no legs, only roots, covered in slow-burning flames, quivering in the wind. He should’ve scared me away. I should’ve run in the other direction, past the mud, somewhere else. But is it possible to run anywhere when the forest is endless? There can be no destination in the infinite.
He reached out and touched my hand with his. I felt my heart catch fire. It was glowing and pulsing beneath my skin. I walked closer, until I was facing him directly, smelling his earthy, burnt smell.
“Who are you?” My voice trembled.
“Fear” He replied.
I leaned in slowly, and we kissed.
The fire started spreading around us in all directions, ensnaring trees, birds and all the forest creatures. Fire has no mercy. Black ash fell from the burning canopy like snow and settled on my shoulders.
And there I lay, at the foot of the great monster, as we went up in flames together.