I once had a dream. I was a seagull, on a first class tour of the clouds and mountaintops of a set of lush, coastal islets.
This land, remote, was pimpled green, and the tips of the great hills and mounts oft charred and exhaled steam, the air smelling of seawater and steam and fog. The isles curved around like a lowercase j, with the largest of the mountains dotting like the top, looking down on the rest of the chain.
At the bottom of the ‘j’ were many smaller ones, and atop each one sat a different person. On my tour, I flew past the first of the pimply hills, surveying the inhumanly large men and women sitting on the various tips of these mountains. Savages, they might have been. As I flew by, they hopped up from their roosts, muttering and puffing up clouds of smoke and curses into the air, and the hills ‘rupted to ‘canos. Lava sputtered into the air, gushing Earthblood. It sputtered and stuttered out. The lava missing me well enough. Anytime I closed in to see these men, they took back to their feet, hopping around, fists pumping, cursing with lava and plume.
Unsociable, they seemed, so I continued on down to the larger ones.
The middle section of the isle, I reached a modest sized volcano. On it sat a giant warrior, clad in iron, honor, and fearsomeness. Circling the spout of the mount was a large buzzard, unseemly with a large white circle around one eye and displaced feathers balding his head. His shouts reverberated, a long whistle, bouncing between the rolling hills, and some of the shrill being scooped up into the valley between. He cried out repeatedly to the warrior.
“FREEE– FREEE!” sounded his whistle. His words piercing into my thoughts.
The warrior stood still, sentry atop the slit of the slope. His eyes showed he heard, but he kept silent.
The sounds of the buzzard calling seemed to change to a more shrill tone.
The buzzard saw me approaching and glanced my way. We made eye contact, and in that instant he was whispering inanities to the mind.
“Seagull, Seagull, we can save them from themselves. We can incubate them with the fumes of the earth, and rule this island as our own. We can save them.”
I hadn’t yet noticed the crooked grin of his beak. I gave no verbal response, but it seemed he read my mind. The buzzard’s shrill changed shape again.
“FREAK! FREAK!” His piercing whistle darted at me like missiles in the sky. What an insufferable creature. I pressed on. A few minutes later, the sky behind seared with an eruption that made the volcano’s of the savages seem but a child’s sneeze. Moments after that half of the island had been swallowed by pillars of ash unfurling like a giant rising to his feet.
I was not far from the end of the chain, and the mountain at the end, a massive, intimidating spectacle of mass that even at distance appeared to dwarf the size of the earlier hills up close. As I approached, I spotted the very average sized man, seated on the lip of the great mouth, large enough to swallow the earlier hills. He was naked, peering down into the mass of black and hole, his tan skin littered with burns and scars upon burns and more scars and black.
He looked up and called to me. “Bird. Come closer. Talk with me. Company is scarce on my piece of the world.”
I hovered a good 20 feet above him and circled.
“What brings a creature out here other than his own foolishness? Do you not fear me, bird, as the rest of the world does?”
I looked at him innocent and pure as my white feathers covering my body.
“You’ve seen what lies beneath, pus, fury, hate, have you not? I have to sit here bird. I alone. It is up to me to hold what destructive power in this giant cauldron I sit. It is my power that you see below. Can you believe it?”
Everything about him deceived the eyes. A forgettable face, a mismatch in stature and demeanor, even his voice was calm, quieted, hard to catch its waves amongst the deafening rumble of the great mount. He looked at me and smiled, barely, but smiled.
“You’re no fool, bird,” as we accepted mutual understanding of who we are to each other, “this volcano was not meant for the witlessness of the savages, or feigned dignity of the red-blooded warrior. I sit atop this fearsome gash in the earth because I can and only I can.”
He quieted for a spell, as did the volcano beneath him. Arms crossed, he sat in silence, once again looking down into the void.
“You’re like me bird. Quiet and calm and..”
“HEEE! HEEE!” I heard the shrill cry grow behind me. The buzzard must have found the courage to approach after following me out to the end of the range.
The buzzard looked past me, bearing that wily grin upon his crooked beak.
The man, perking up, called back to the buzzard.
“Wild one, join us.”
“HEHE! HEHE!” The buzzard’s long cries now a snicker.
White splattered his face as the man’s reflexes rubberbanded his expression to a shut face. He sighed and looked back down to the void. The entire island rocked, but he patted the volcano lip and mumbled some words in too dim a voice to be heard from above.
The buzzard, again, whispered thoughts to me I’ve since forgotten.
Then, he intercepted me, batting me down, proclaiming, “FREE! FREE!”
Disoriented, I sunk into the dark. The buzzard’s dishonor had not been unknown to the man, as the last image I saw was the now visibly upset naked man springing to his feet as the Buzzard began to fly away, and then all I saw was black.
I saw it.
I felt it.
From pitchest of blacks, to a yellow filling my face, it tingled of warmth, but instantly continued down the color spectrum.
Orange, to red, to white. From heat, to inferno, to nothing.
I barely felt it, but heard no eruptions.
I woke up instead.