By R.W. Van Sant
Jerry staggered upstairs, exhausted. The large warm bed welcomed him as he slid under the rumpled quilt. It had been a long day, and his body felt sore and cumbersome. He drifted off to sleep with thoughts of buried treasure and professional fame, floating on a cloud of possibilities.
At first, his dreams were chaotic and indistinct. Then he felt strong, cold winds. They buffeted his skin, blowing him randomly. He was at the mercy of the ever-shifting wind currents. A curiously shaped cloud drew his attention. The winds answering his desire blew him toward it. He looked to another more distant cloud, and the winds shifted and took him there. Gravity no longer oppressed him, and the winds themselves were his to command. Although he couldn’t see anyone else, he knew that he was not alone. Others flew with him, as familiar to him as the wind and clouds. He belonged and reveled in the knowledge that they were the ultimate masters of nature.
On the plains below, large primitive beasts foraged on wild grass. Sunlight glinted off their scaly hides. The wonder and majesty of the strange dreamscape held him tightly enthralled, but eventually dissipated in the wake of growing, gnawing hunger. One by one, the others around him adopted physical form, sporting scaly wings, claws, and teeth. As he joined them, he could feel the pull of gravity and the pressure of the wind on his wings. Driven by hunger, they dove silently from the clouds.
Prey fled before their attack. He dove upon dinosaurs and reptiles such as paleontologists had never envisioned. To him, they were cattle, food to be killed and eaten without remorse. Sharp teeth and claws rendered flesh from bone until his nearly endless hunger satiated. They fed freely and only took what they needed. The offspring of the survivors would feed them in the eons to come. They had maintained that balance since the dawning of the world.
The sky above abruptly hit up. A second sun had appeared in the heavens. It came from outside the world. Eyes widened and muscles tensed as it grew larger, ever more intrusively moving across the clouds. Heat and light stung his eyes and burned his skin. Overwhelming pain compelled him to abandon the physical form. When the flaming mass struck, the world shook. The force of its impact threw dirt and ash into the sky, higher than the clouds. The sky darkened, and the sun dimmed. The world ended before Jerry’s eyes.