I was walking along a mountain path in some mythical realm. I came to a place where the path turned just at the edge of a high rocky point that looked out over an expansive view of faintly whispered mountains far in the distance illuminated by those few shafts of eastern light that managed to penetrate the smoky atmosphere. Just past the edge, I could see the sheer drop into a fathomless, terrifying pit below. The tip of my shoe knocked a pebble loose and I watched it tumble away, bouncing here and there against the faces of the rock in its descent, and even when it was gone from sight, I could hear the reverberations of it echoing throughout the entire valley.
As I took the turn in the path and continued on my way, I came across a strange little creature, a long yellow caterpillar covered in big red dots. Smooth wet eyelids flickered over its blinking eyes. Its body was flat and shiny, like it had a hard shell. It was a good three feet long, and at least a foot wide. It scurried around in front of me, making playful loops and flips. It seemed to be entreating me with those big eyes, perhaps begging me for food or a novelty of some sort, but I had nothing in my empty pockets to give it. I tried to step around it, but it just scurried back in front of me. Finally, I tried to sweep it away with the side of my shoe.
That was a mistake. The whole countenance and demeanor of the thing changed immediately. The dots on its body brightened and spread until its whole body was pulsing a solid, angry red. Its eyes narrowed in anger, and sharp fangs spread from the corners of its mouth. It began aggressively nipping at my ankles. I backed away, while jabbing at it with my foot, but the thing kept at me. Then it dawned on me that I was inside of a game zone and that there was a specific set of moves or rules by which I had to defeat this enemy. I pleaded with the turbulent sky above for guidance, but no one answered. The caterpillar creature just kept nipping its fangs at me, and driving me back, and before I’d even realized what had happened, the loose ground at the edge gave way and I grasped in vain for a hold in the rock as I fell into the pit below.
Luckily, the game immediately dispatched a full military unit to rescue me. Several troops repelled down the side of the mountain with ropes. Generals and commanders rode up to the edge in jeeps and coordinated the teams with radios from the mountain top above. But none of them could match the speed of my free falling descent. I could see them up there, and I reached out my hands, but I just fell further and further away from them. But then a helicopter came along, and it dove straight down and flew past me to get up underneath me. The pilot turned the helicopter on its side so that they could catch me as I fell into the open door. I fell into the arms of two soldiers. They wrapped me in a brown blanket and sat me on a bench in the back of the helicopter as the pilot righted the craft and began to fly back up to the top of the mountain.
But just then, something smashed hard through the windshield of the helicopter. We began to spin out of control. The pilots lay slumped over, unconscious. The two soldiers in the back with me tried to scramble up front to get to the controls before we crashed. They had forgotten about me for the moment, and when they weren’t looking, I opened another door which had somehow appeared in the wall next to me. This was a simple wooden door, and it had a screen door beyond it, and I stepped out through this back door into the backyard of my childhood home.
It was a starry Friday night. I was a kid again, and I could see my mother in the light of the kitchen window, washing dishes. I snuck across the yard to go visit the girl next door. We were friends. She was waiting for me and she had this board game already set up on the table for us to play. The board consisted of a comb of hexagons laid out in a grid against a background of stars, and the game pieces were little spaceships on pedestals. We took turns rolling the red and white die to see who would go first.