I am running. Trapped in a valley, in the barren winter of my limbo.The disfigured boughs of blackened trees suppress the constellations above, suffocating all light. Beasts chase me and I flee blind. There is no chance of escape. This hunt is familiar and I know how it will end.
I stumble and feel them inch closer, their fiery breath burning hot on my neck.
A star breaks through the branches and hurtles towards me. As it approaches, its shape becomes defined against the darkness. I realise it isn’t a star but a bird. A snow white raven heading straight for me. I have no time to alter course, I know what fate awaits me if I slow my pace for a second. I brace for impact with the bird, but as we collide she alights on my shoulder and croaks directions into my ear. My legs respond of their own accord, her power over me is absolute.
In the distance, I see a patch of milky twilight.
“There,” she caws. “Run. There. Fast”.
My exhausted muscles scream but I dig deep and arrive at a wall of holly. The branches part at my arrival. I step though into a dense fog; the ground feels solid but supple. Pulsing with energy as though alive.
The jagged hedge closes behind me and the beasts cannot follow but still they chase my scent. Their noses sniff the ground, growling and yapping as they track my escape.
I turn to look into the raven’s emerald eyes for the first time. “Who are you?” I ask.
“A friend,” comes the reply.