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The darker the night became, the sweeter her song grew. The lethargy I’d felt for the past several days had lifted, and I felt clear and energized, uplifted, uprooted. Whatever I had left behind on the mainland was gone to me now, a seachest of memories, a few letters, one cherished photograph, nothing more, nothing as real to me as what was coursing through my veins in the depths of this tangled mass of jungle, this intoxicating music that I hungered for with my bones trembling, the pores of my skin open like numberless mouths, seeking to drink in the melody that drifted through the gnarled trees like honey smoke, the burning of golden sighs of fallen angels. I moved unthinking through the night, deeper into the jungle, and higher. I climbed along the flanks of the Finger of God but never high enough to break through above the tree line. The canopy crowded over me, and when I looked up the jeweled yellow eyes of scarlet leemurs and the green eyes of the langorous, deadly vartuna cat flashed down. I kept moving, heedless of the danger, but I somehow sensed that I was enveloped in a protective cocoon, courtesey of the song propelling me onward. I was a guest of the Singing One, for she had summoned me. My lips were on fire now, my fingers ached to play, to caress or to crush. Like the need to shit the need to bang, to hammer, to drum, roiled my bowls and set my heart to thunder in my hollow chest. I panted like a dog, I shook as if my head were full of droning bees. The music flooded through the jungle and each tree absorbed it then spilled it out like sap, extruding from the bark, sweating off on each leaf and rolling down, glistening as each drop hung for a moment, bobbing in the inky night air before leaping off into the void and bursting into a perfect, aching note when it broke upon the ground. It was raining music, music was my breathing, music fired the sparks from synapse to synapse in my jangled brain and it rose to an impossible crescendo as I stumbled at last into a clearing, a void in the darkness, and I was coming undone under the force of it. Delerious, aflame, disjointed, I stood at the edge of the clearing, moaning like a broken dog, whimpering and pawing at the dirt while at the farther edge I could see her at last, the Singing One. Moving in and out of the shadows, an arm or a leg, the side of her face illuminated by the guttering light of a dying fire in front of her. She moved in a dance that ignited in me a violent passion, but I stood rooted to the ground and was struck mute. Tears flowed from my eyes and coursed down my face, stinging like kerosene. The woman sang and danced in and out of the light from the fire, her fingers marking out arcane symbols in the darkness that stayed glowing long after she had writ them, fading only slowly and falling as they did. Suddenly she stopped, stomping her feet on the ground, but still singing with great power words that I knew but could never understand or explain. I knew then that I must go the final steps, must cross the clearing and lay my beating heart at her feet, unscrew my bony skull like a apple twisted from the bough and toss it in her lap, if only she would continue her song. I stepped forward, but before I could take another step something slammed into me from behind, knocking me down. My face was smashed into the dirt with tremendous force, filling my mouth with earth and threatening to choke me. Then a blow, a flash of light, then darkness.

The music was no more.