The great creature Menom sits alongside a hole. Her face is covered by a ceremonial gold cloth. She stares into the hole. Her posture suggests she’s waiting for you.
You walk up to the hole and peer inside. Menom nods and gestures for you to enter.
You descend into the hole. It is not so bad. You can stand, at least, and through the echoing tunnels you hear Menom humming a tune. You walk, briskly, but not hurried. Light from outside of the tunnel disappears, but glowing mushrooms guide your path.
After some time you notice you’re hunching down. The tunnel is getting smaller.
You carry on, eventually going from your hunched position to a crawl. Here, the tunnel walls are covered with newspaper, plastered to the walls like an unfinished piñata. You can still hear Menom’s song in the distance. It’s comforting, enough to push you forward.
You’re forced onto your stomach to continue. You inch yourself along by wiggling your shoulders back and forth. The smell of newsprint and glue surrounds your entire body. You can’t imagine smelling anything else ever again.
You continue on. The newspapers rip off the tunnel walls and catch your clothing until you’re fully wrapped. You can barely wiggle now, so you force yourself forward by pushing yourself with your toes, like a ballerina practicing their pointe technique. Your arms are locked your side. Your face is covered in newspaper, but not so much you can’t breathe. But every breath you draw is still full of newspaper and glue.
It’s too hard to push yourself forward with your toes. Menom’s humming is faint now. You find if you suck in your stomach you can push forward slightly using a combination of your stomach and your belt buckle as it hooks into the newspaper surrounding you.
It’s dark here. The glow of the mushrooms is gone and it’s impossible to see how much further the tunnel goes. An itch rattles itself across your leg, just out of reach of your arm. Your shoulders feel like you’ve been carrying a backpack for weeks.
But the newspaper feels nice, wrapped around your legs and arms like seaweed. You’re partially tangled up, sure, but also encased in warmth.
You’re not moving much, anymore. The newspaper and glue smell doesn’t seem so bad, and perhaps this spot is cozy, not debilitatingly small. Menom’s humming matches your breathing. Your breath slows and you drift off to sleep.