It's unsettling, really, how the night is still alive with sound.
The birds are not birds. The insects are not insects. And if there are other animals in the cacophony, they, too, are unrecognizable. It all merges into one din of constant punctuation and interjection, a rhythm without tempo. Just as you are without something... but nevermind.
"There will always be a place for those who wish to stay in the past," says one of the four men sitting around a table on the porch. They are playing cards by candlelight, tiny flames arrayed on the porch banister, each in its own snug, stable holder.
On closer inspection, each of the candles has an inscription on the base. Each label is familiar, but the text cannot stay in memory and seems to shift as each is examined. Am I dreaming? This question-awareness fails to destructively resound upon the mental landscape; inconclusive. Sure feels like a dream though.
"But in this particular case, you may have to make an exception," says the same man. He rises from the table and moves to an unlit candle, which he picks up.
"You will need this to continue," he says, and then returns to the card game. There are two characters at the candle's base.
The noise seems to grow a little louder, and then falls to a level near silence but for a few that continue to carry on. A sense of expectation falls over the scene.
Play proceeds apace. The night continues on.
The round ends. Points are tabulated, the deal shifts, and a new hand is initialized.
It'll last longer than you think. It always lasts longer than you think.
There is tension in the air that prevents my rest.
Cloud cover and rain can mask the approach of sunrise.
Do you think you volunteer to march? No, you are pulled there.
Mental acceleration and preparation.
"Do you know what you're looking for?" the man asks. "Or are you still unguided?"
Distant thunder rumbles. A brief surge in rainfall.
"You'll find your place. One way or another."
You ain't dead, not yet at least.