Running through the jungle gasping for breath. Twilight the colour of bruised skin before black and blue sets in. Tripping over raised roots like dirt-streaked bones exposed by erosion. Sweat stung eyes blurring and red, raw eruptions on hands and arms where the mosquitoes have sucked with avid greed at his tasty flesh. There is no time for discomfort. Gunter knows he is being pursued.
All in a dream. He knows he is dreaming but the only reality is the one he inhabits like a close fitting second skin. Look at your hands he thinks. The dream can be controlled if you just look. You must look at your hands. He cannot see them. He stumbles along and imagines the beating of giant wings is getting closer. The nightmare continues.
The trail becomes impossible to make out as the light fades. Branches slap his face like cane strokes on a miscreant schoolboy. Sweat mingles with dust and pollen streaking his cheeks with war paint markings as he lets go of a guttural howl and feels anguish strangling the last of it with the icy bones of its fingers.
Still he runs. Blind, staggering strides that cover unseen distances but he is slowing down now. He cannot go on much longer. The loud whoosh of enormous wings beating the air into a maelstrom. It’s above him now. Gunter wipes the sweat from his eyes with a blood-streaked hand and looks up. The fading light illuminates the black eyes of the butterfly as it descends; it’s body splitting, a viscous white fluid enveloping him, drowning out his scream.
Gunter sits straight up in bed, his heart pounding. He wipes the sleep from his eyes and glances out the window at the Chocolate Tiger watching him intently from the white flower it clings to.