Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm
bodies are not designed to have their fluids evenly distributed top to bottom. Astronauts don’t like to talk about that unglamorous part of weightlessness, but keep in mind this throbbing headache and bladder-ache and toe-numbness was going on in the background of all the other various unpleasant physical sensations I was suffering.
    Panic ebbed. Your body just cannot keep up the flood of adrenaline forever. Fear turned into a sort of bitter curiosity: I wondered about the texture and substance around me. It angered me that it made no sense.
    It did not seem to have any fixed character, any nature. At once it seemed to be one thing or the other, whatever was worst for me: It was just darkness and vacuum, a yawning gap through which I toppled, offering me nothing to hold to and nowhere to stand; but it seemed also to be a gluey, oily substance sticking to me greedily, so I could barely move my limbs; then it seemed also like nothing but a fog of gloom, a deadly smoke, which blocked nothing but my eyesight; and then also it seemed to be an anthill, and millions of little bugs were crawling over me, nipping and tickling; and then it seemed also like space itself had shattered like fine crystal shattering, and these were all the little sharp shards and grit, working their way into my flesh.
    Or it was none of these things. My sense impressions were evolved and meant to record information within the context of space and time. Was I still inside that context? I doubted it.
    I also was burning with a will to survive that blazed up inside of me as hot as anger, a rage that anyone or anything in this universe or outside it would take from me my precious mortal existence.
    And yet I did not die. I hung in vacuum or fell through darkness or sank in oily glue or spun dizzily or stood buried in ice or coated with swarms of bugs — and for a time, I did nothing. Maybe it was a long time. The curiosity was not enough to get me to move. The will to survive was not strong enough: it was not bigger than this infinity around me.
    The thought of my mother saved me. Go ahead and laugh, but that is all it was. I thought: my dad is not crazy. This unreality I am stuck in, it is real. Sort of. That means he could be right about Mom. Maybe she can see me.
    I imagined her using some machine they have in her world they don’t have on Earth, a magic mirror or a crystal ball, and seeing my brothers safe, and seeing me, dying in the darkness of utter night, and not being able to get a message to them and tell them what had become of me, and not being able to help me herself, even though she ached to help her little boy.
    I opened my mouth and shouted, “I am not a little boy anymore! I can take care of myself!” And got a mouthful of those little specks of whatever they were that swarmed like ants.
    I tried to spit, but there was neither air in my lungs or saliva in my mouth at that point. I felt terrible, and I had that nightmare sensation of something crawling inside me like a plastic bag of worms.
    “Okay, Mom!” I said, “Maybe I am still a little little. A little. If you can help me from wherever you are, or if you can see me, I could use a hand.”
    And I heard a huge noise in the abyss, a roar too deep to be heard, the kind of thing you only feel in your bones.

7. The Second Dragon
    It was cutting through the waters (or whatever I was in) and I felt it moving near, thrusting me aside with its bow shock.
    I was desperate to see what it was! I remember trying to claw the goop out of my eyes, and then suddenly realizing that I was merely in a dark void, and I could not remove the darkness by pushing it away with my fingers.
    So I pulled that big flashlight up from my belt and clicked the switch.
    I was not expecting it to work. I mean, the twilight prevents gunpowder from igniting, so why should batteries work? But they did.
    It was like I had set off a silent bomb. A cone of light appeared, and all the motes of darkness trembled, swarmed,

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