I wade through pale pink mush, not sure how I got here and ready to leave.
The stuff I’m waist deep in is thick sticky, smelling like strawberries.
I scoop some up and bring it to my mouth, smiling at the sweetness. I eat some more, then bend down to lap it up, finding that it makes no impression once I swallow it, as though it never was.
Eventually I find that the taste fills me and eating it or not eating it feels no different.
Either way, I am satisfied, fluffy and light, sticky and sweet.
I keep walking, no longer unhappy to be here, just curious what comes after this.
Eventually I come upon thick, pearly structures arranged in wild swirls like semitransluscent porcelain.
On one of them sits an old person with an immense beard who doesn’t stand out from the structures with their pale colors and sweet, semitransluscent eyes.
“Your soul is pink,” they observe.
I have no idea what they mean.
“That’s very sweet of you,” I say, deciding to take it as a compliment.
“You can choose what to eat here. As they say, you are what you eat. You can choose to join me or continue on and find something else you want to be. It makes no difference to me.”
Have I taken on the personality of the pale pink icing? Was this the kind of person I wanted to be?
“If you want to be the kind of person who wonders how taste and texture translate into personality, there’s a snowcone mountain that way that will grant you that curiousity. And if you want to be filled with enough anger that you realize the wrongness of being trapped here against your will, you’ll encounter spicy jellybeans in the opposite direction.”
It would be nice to bring in different flavors.
I continue on until the pale pink icing has floating red jellybeans which slowly become more dense until I’ll be wading through jellybeans.
I just take a few, to taste them.
They feel good to eat, bringing me life and a desire for change, the burning on my tongue bleeding into my whole body.
I don’t want the sweetness to be replaced with spice, so I leave it there.
The combination of sticky sweetness and sticky burning doesn’t mesh well inside my skin.
The tastes make it hard to appreciate each other, so I turn around and pass the old person in the white dress again, feeling the icing get uncomfortably cold until I’m face to face with a steep white incline.
I wonder what’s at the top?
I try to climb, slipping and landing on my face, sliding all the way down.
I pause and ingest some of the snow, slowly realizing as I get a good bit of it in me that everything I’ve eaten so far has been tinged with sweetness.
I am filled with sugar.
Why did I choose to eat the icing to begin with? Was there something urging me, or was it just my instinct as someone who lived in a world of limited sugar in a body with an urge to consume it?
The cold, slick snow manges the burning and dulls the edge of the sweetness.
I’d better go ask that person I passed some questions. How did they end up here? How did I end up here? Who am I?
How far does this place reach, and what are the rules of this world?
How can a soul be so easily changed?
Can I leave?
…Do I want to leave?
“I was a human. Beyond that, my memories are mere shadows. A trace of busy streets and hunger. Some kind of attachment or love. But I don’t feel the need to wonder about it anymore.
I don’t know who I am, or who you are. Whether it matters… well, that’s up to you. It’s up to each of us for ourselves.”
And this bearded person has decided to sit and watch the mists, apparently. I wonder, if the mist was boiled down, would the residue be as sweet as the smell?
“How did we come to be here?” I ask.
They don’t know.
“You seem to know a lot about how this place works,” I say.
“Only what I’ve observed. I’ve watched many people pass through this place. Of course, this world is big enough that even if there are countless people, there are areas with nobody as far as the eye can see, areas that take a very long time to move through. I’ve heard there are places where people gather and befriend and fight and have drama, as people do. I have no desire to seek them out.”
“Questioning them is fruitless,” another voice says, belonging to a colorful individual with tentacle hair, patchy robes, and a lot of purple and less pink and yellow on them, “fortunately, you’ll get all the fruit you need from the flavoring in the air.”
The strawberry flavoring?
They put a tentacle on my shoulder right as I realize their hands are also tentacles.
“Come with me, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen anybody with a sense of humor. Things get real fizzy over thataways.”
As they lead me forward, they advise me,
“Just don’t drink too much of it, or too much of anything really. It’s unsatisfying, but if you get more than a little taste there will be no room for other flavors to stay in you. Then you’ll end up super boring like that old hard candy.”
Becoming a complicated person… it sounds interesting. Will it lead me to getting out of here?
Well, it seems like answers aren’t at my fingertips. Perhaps this purple person can help me find one of those places with a lot of people.
It will be good to not be alone.
The thought echoes with the ghost of intensity.
I try to remember where it came from because I think that’s important, I think that’s really important, but all I get is the feeling of isolation. Hugging my knees in the darkness at the foot of a flight of stairs.
And that’s it.
There’s nothing else in the memory.
I don’t want to share it, but I wonder if sharing these things from out of this place might help us figure out how to get out of here.
“I remember feeling lonely at the foot of a flight of stairs,” I say, without context.
The purple person stops, picks up one of the jellybeans we’re wading through, gives it the barest lick, and puts it back down.
“I think I remember what stairs are. Or I’d know them if I saw them. I think there are stairs somewhere in this world. Lonely is what I feel when there aren’t people for a long time and I want to see more people. Or perhaps not, emotions were different.
I remember wind in my hair and moving a machine with my feet. That’s my main memory, though it used to be more specific,” they tell me.
“But you don’t have hair anymore,” I observe, not sure what to make of the machine part.
Wind brings something to mind. It’s hard to forget wind entirely, though I don’t remember what it feels like.
“I think I liked having hair, too. But with all the things I’ve eaten, I’m no longer even human.”
“Should I stop eating, then?”
“It’s too late. The moment you come here, you’re not human like you used to be. Else I’d remember what stairs are. No, I don’t think it matters what we look like.”
But they don’t know more than me. Eating more, changing more, it could cut me off from escaping this place, if I’m truly losing something I used to have.
“Here we are, it’s the fizz,” they say, as the jellybeans begin dissolving into purple fizz.
I’m too curious for my own good. The drive to learn more, to have more feelings and unique emotions inside me, is too strong.
I bend down and carefully poke my tongue into the startlingly fizzy liquid, swallowing just enough to send a small thrill through my body.
“Tastes like grapes,” I say.
“Have you had grapes before?” they ask.
The barest flash of a memory and flavor flutters through my mind.
“I have, though I don’t remember it.”
“I’m sure if we keep exercising it, those memories will come back,” they say, “I think I really enjoyed grapes before coming here.”
“I wonder if everything will taste bitter when we get out,” I say, trailing my hand through the fizz and resisting the desire to drink more.
“I don’t remember what bitter tastes like.”
I don’t either.
“Maybe there will be something bittersweet we can try. Though, I don’t imagine there will be anything purely bitter.”
“No, everything has to be sweet here. Like it’s trying to be so nice that it’s just forcing you at this point.”
I laugh, the desire to drink more of the fizzy liquid hovering at the edge of my head like a shadow.
“Will we ever be somewhere without candy, where I won’t be tempted to consume it?” I ask them.
“Nowhere without food, but you can sleep on the cake. The cake is steadiness. Just being on it feels grounding and there’s almost no urge to stuff your face. Well, for me. Mileage may very. If the cake doesn’t do it for you I’m sure something will,” they say.
“You’re so nice,” I say.
“It’s partly some peanut butter balls I had. Very motivating stuff,” they say.
“I was allergic,” I say warily, realizing there may be some parts of the world I shouldn’t go.
“Don’t worry about that. We’re not really fully here. Or maybe none of us but the faint memories are. I don’t really know if we were humans or we just have these memories,” they wonder.
That’s a thought. I don’t want to be just a… thing. A sugary filled with far too few little bits of this sweet world.
“I guess… we’re immortal here, then?” I ask.
“We don’t even have to sleep. It’s just to not be for a bit. Like skipping time. I have a theory that it helps us remember.”
To remember… there must have been a lot more out there, as well. Things that we didn’t want to forget, but did.
So reasonably, I should want to remember.
For my sake, for the sake of anybody I left behind, and for the sake of knowledge.
Next: blood red