Arya woke up to see some earthworms crawling over her. In a flash, she hurled them off her body through one swing of her hand. Their faces turned red as they let their frustration known and then slowly disappeared beneath the ground. “You always do this to us,” she thought she heard them say.
She dusted her dress with trembling hands and got up on her feet and began to look around in a peculiar dread and amazement. One way she could see little children holding hands and sliding down a giant rainbow together; another way she could see tiny fishes resting in the shade of trees as tall as mountains. One way she saw an aurora of dazzling colours chasing after a wooden clock, another way she was thrilled to see two mirrors conversing. She looked up and she found darkness to be her roof; she looked down and it was the same darkness as her floor. The ground on which she stood, though dark and uncomprehensible, was soft. It felt like she was standing, or rather floating, on a cloud. She rubbed her eyes but nothing changed. This was an unusually dark nighttime in an unusual world.
“Sameer!” she wanted to scream but she couldn’t; something held her back. The events of the day were still circling around her head and she didn’t want to go through them again in her head. All she wished for was Sameer. She wished to see him, hold him, talk to him; she wished to see him alive again.
As she gently marched forward trying to make sense of this unworldly place, her feet hit a block and she stopped. Unable to see it clearly, she bent down and touched the object. Immediately, the object began to glow and revealed itself to be a giant tortoise. The tortoise looked at her and smiled, “I knew you’d come. Let me take you.”
Something inside her urged her to climb it and she did. “Where will you take me?” she asked.
The tortoise smiled again, “Where I have always taken you — the place you have come to visit.”
The tortoise rose from the ground and slowly began to carry Arya skywards. “Don’t you want to spend more time here with us?”
Arya pretended not to hear him as she continued to gaze all around her. She saw the fantastical creatures down below getting more and more blurry as the distance between them grew. Around her, several other tortoises ascended to the skies with people resting on them. She couldn’t hold back her curiosity, “Who are they and where are they going?” This time it was the tortoise’s turn to ignore her.
“We have reached,” the tortoise told her after a while. “You may descend now.”
As she leaped off the tortoise, her eyes began to feast on the fulgurous display of lights forming a door. She stepped closer to the door and it opened itself up. She took a deep breath and entered the other side to find herself in another realm. This realm wasn’t much different to the previous realm except that this was darker and empty. Arya, however, felt her nerves calming down. She felt the presence of someone or something around her. She didn’t understand what to do next. Everything about the place seemed vaguely familiar to her.
“Welcome home,” came a greeting from the blowing winds.
Arya looked all around trying to understand where the voice came from but all her eyes could see was sheer darkness.
“Shall we begin?” the voice spoke again from beyond the darkness.
“Yes,” replied Arya. “Let us begin.”