At the edge of America, the world shook and shook, causing the gigantic trees which held up the sky to tremor and crash, to slide into the earth. I saw my sister standing in the shadow of a falling redwood and I grabbed her hair and hurled us both 20 feet to safe ground. From the forest floor we watched the dirt swallow the trees like vermicelli, and thus the roof of the world collapsed down upon us, until all was left was mere crawlspace around wooden corners and the suffocating black ceiling of the solid sky.
So we crawled east.
Sometimes when we turned a corner in the maze, we were greeted by a cellophane window close to the floor. At one such turning, I got on my back and pressed my head out against the cellophane, which vanished as my head passed through the line of the window. What I saw caused my hands and fingers to tremble. Before and above my eyes was a slippery dome, upon which myriad creatures of the natural world were climbing and falling down. Mammals and fish and amphibians and reptiles wearing flat-forward eyes and opposable thumbs as they got higher, wearing clothes and developing technologies alien to me on levels that scooped out my brain. Several frogs caught my gaze and returned it. From the throat of one emerged a tad-pole like thing which landed on my face and wiggled under my collar. I quickly pulled my head back inside. We continued to crawl, and I felt the thing under my clothes turning revolutions around my body, as if I were a Sun and it my only planet.
From dark spaces others joined us in these corridors smelling of deadwood. Soon we were a dozen. Upon turning a corner, an Asian man standing at the end of a corridor pointed a bottle- rocket at us and fired. The flaming rocket roared over us and blazed a hole in a wooden wall. My little frog-planet bit my chest and I screamed, rushing forward and grasping the bottle rocket from the man, flipping it and blasting away his head. In the hole that the rocket had gouged in the trunk behind his dissolved head, the tadpole ripped from my clothes. The thing had changed, not into a frog, but a dragonfly with an enormous mouth bristling with circling, needle teeth. It lighted upon my wrist and faced me. A flower bloomed from the crown of its head and it shrieked, flying into the hole and chewing it completely through. Yellow light and smoke drifted through the new tunnel and we scuttled through to find a large room with a ceiling high enough to stand.
Along every wall of the room sat scarecrow versions of thousands of our ancestors, stuffed and poorly made in wooden chairs. Beside each scarecrow ancestor was a small table with a radio that played a singular voice which told a singular dead story.
On the right side of the room, men were sitting at a table discussing unfinished business. I recognized the few that owned all the money in the world. They were red and furious that other men were even trying to negotiate a part of the money chunk.
At the left side of the room was a multitude of women and children smoking and coughing and dying and disappearing from the cubes of yellow smoke that rose from the floor. A bald man with a worried look on his face was prostrate at the right side of the room, his mouth and nose flush against a vent. He inhaled and inhaled, causing his considerable bulk to bulge until he stood and exhaled into a bag, which he carried over to the left side. He shook out the bag onto the cubes, which dissolved any visible, yet as soon as he left, the yellow cubes reappeared and killed more women and children. He returned to the vent.
Above the rising cubes was a cellophane window, the ledge upon which paced the dragonfly- tadpole. It whistled to me and I walked over, holding my breath to avoid the noxious smoke. Standing close to the tadpole, its teeth whirred and bore a hole in my forehead. I felt liquid and drip down my nose and over my lips.
It whistled again and fled out the window. I could no longer hold my breath.