I was midway through a dream when they touched me. It was a dream full of bursting lights and the transcendence of gravity, leaping upward, upward… something I had never experienced in reality. I don’t know how dreams form but somehow this one felt like a memory more than randomization.
They woke me from my sleep roughly. I felt myself bump against those around me, our dry skin rubbing like sandpaper as we struggled to remain upright. We were moving. From light to darkness to light, we were jostled and jumbled over many miles. Sometimes I could see the sky, its vastness arcing overhead like a promised land but… no, too far. I would never reach it before the darkness folded in again.
I felt hands grab me and pull me out into the light. I was weak and helpless in their grip and simply allowed myself to be taken away. As they carried me I could once again see the great open blue and I gazed, letting myself fall into its depths.
I was not tossed back into the darkness this time; instead I was set down carefully among others of my kind. We looked at each other in bewilderment, stealing glances at our surroundings. Slowly, the blue of the sky changed. I gaped, measuring the purest blue against the slowly fading horizon until THERE I saw something change! It was a streak of gold, nearly too bright for me to see but it was new! It strung like lights across the horizon and the mountains, growing ever more golden and bright as it mingled with clouds adorning the edges of the great mountains. I gasped, hearing the audible whispers of my neighbors but unable to tear my gaze away. The gold slowly melted into oranges and dripping reds, then wispy purples and blues which I had never before witnessed. This is what the sky becomes, I thought. This is the reason I am alive.
As the sky darkened I heard loud noises emanating from somewhere behind me. I turned but could see nothing but an enormous wall. I looked around me but my confusion was mirrored everywhere. I decided I could wait to understand, and turned my thoughts toward the newly-blinking stars.
Then footsteps. Footsteps surrounding us, slowly coming nearer and nearer. I was not afraid.
Silence fell around us as the last trickle of blue-gray drained from the sky and blackness dominated.
The footsteps found me. I was lifted up until my arms pointed toward the sky, my sky. I looked up.
I felt warmth, tickling where I touched the ground. I kept my eyes on the stars as the warmth spread to my skin and into my bones, deep into my heart and then my soul. I was on fire. I leapt upward, opening my mouth and screaming silently in furious joy as my body followed my gaze into the stars. I fled upward, catapulting away from my brethren left behind as I heard their gasps and their cries. I felt their eyes but closed my own, bundling my entire being into energy until I was shooting toward the moon, spinning and flipping and shrieking into the atmosphere.
My last moment was one of pure ecstasy. I felt myself explode and in my final breath saw the last glowing tendrils of my life trail through the sky, like the traces of a memory.