3. The Obstacle Course

You became the broken bird your mother held, cupped between two palms on that unbearably hot summer afternoon. It was hallucinogens in the waking world that reminded you of the damage done from a lost parent that you pretend to ignore. You laid upon a luxurious hotel bed, arms heavy, hot and cold rushing through you, wondering how many hours would go by in this state of confusion. It was your first real drug experience, and your mind cleaned itself of its many perils and disturbances through the grating of the steel brush that was mushrooms.

Your arms were stretched out but bent at the elbow like a sacrilegious crucifix. You had not moved from this awkward position for at least an hour. Your body sank deeper into the bed, and the white puffy blankets that covered you looked like little snow-covered hills. You thought of the way your arms laid beside you, and it made you feel as though you were the skeleton of a bird, picked dry by maggots. You felt broken, helpless, and it was at that visual of seeing yourself as a dying bird that you were reminded of your mother’s kindness.

This is not a dream, this is a memory, your mind interrupts. We are not here for remembrances, we are here to solve problems.

Yes, you agree as you flip yourself away from thoughts of your mother and the bird. As your body turns, so does the scenery. The light is gone, the pink hue has wilted, and the “knowing” part of your senses inflicts dread upon you. You are scared, immediately, without reason but… you are beginning to recall what this place is.

You are at the obstacle course. There is a grey ramp and a tunnel before you. There is light, but it is not natural and it is not man-made. Thick, impossible vines cling to every visible surface, reminding you of your discernible veins in your hands. Inside the tunnel is a blank darkness that your mind has not yet filled with horrors. Your brain wants you to run the course, to explore every crevice, but you are tired of it. Nothing has ever been gained from this run. You are certain nothing ever will.

No, I do not want to go, your voice trembles as you speak to yourself. Your mind does not care. Instead of giving you the choice, your feet start running without your command. You enter the blackened tunnel and the mysterious disembodied light follows you.

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