If there had been any justice in the world…but that golden child is long gone.  Wait, wrong story.  If things had gone according to what I had expected, she would have drawn a portal anchored at the edge of, say, the cubicle doorway, and it would have had subtle transitions between where this world and where she was taking me overlapped, and I would be going into a place of order.

Instead, my head reeled with the sensory overload of a messy transition, and for a moment I lost all sense of location, disjointed from my reality entirely, only to end up tumbling through more than one place at a time.  I saw a room of nymphs petrified in fright over a pool of mercury through some romanesque columns, rolled through a crowd of screaming crows at what I could only put in my frame of reference as a rock concert, and then somehow danced through a field of migrating dandelion blooms in sixteen-bit colour.  When I finished falling, I managed to gather my guts rather than lose them on the faintly golden shag carpet.  I sat on my knees for a few minutes, willing the world to stop spinning.  It ignored me, of course. I’m not in that league.

She stepped across, her shiny heels all that crossed my path of vision except for this entirely too ugly carpet for the eternity or thirty seconds I actually needed to make sense of my environment. I admired her legs briefly before the panic overwhelmed my baser desires.   “Self,” I told myself, “You do not need this kind of crazy in your life.”

“What kind of crazy do you require?” she asked, simply.

Oh, bleep.

I diverted the question.  “It seems to me,” I said, standing up and taking the rest of my environs into consideration, “that I never inquired of your identity.”

“You can call me Doloise.  These are some of my kin.”

Which you can take to mean I was not only looking at my surroundings, but that I was surrounded.  Not in any kind of linear fashion, of course.  Let me start with the describable, and work my way up to the things Lovecraft attempted to clutch.  Not that anything was particularly squamous, unless you minded the  1970s-style carpet.

The floor was indeed what I would consider shag carpet in that colour Maggie would have called goldenrod or maybe daisy.  She was always correcting my “pale yellow” into something more dramatic.  Amongst these creatures, I was hard pressed not to elaborate.  It was too silky to be shag, too metallic to be yellow, with the scent of something both sour and sweet at once.  There were columns that curved in like a giant’s ribcage, the colour of bleached bone.  Fires of every colour in the spectrum danced underneath them. The sky was a pale blue bowl of sizzling silver stars despite the apparent sunlight above us.   Distance showed the spectre of hills in shadowy indigo, with reddish clouds at their tips.  Save for the strange misty mountains (no doubt populated with goblins) the place was an island bounded with these columns and the edge of visible light.  I’d guess things turned kind of purple after about 10 feet from a lamp.

Meanwhile, there were the creatures.  Tall, many of them wan, as if the unnatural sunlight was all they could stand.  Thin enough that a good wind ought to clean the place out.  All of them staring at me like I was some kind of unnatural insect that had wandered uninvited into the barbecue.

Maybe not.  Maybe I was just feeling how unlike I was to them.  I felt short and clumsy and ugly and just…different, and like I was, of course, the focus of attention because everything around me wasn’t meant for me.  It was compatible, maybe.  It was like they spoke a different language, even if it was my own, and their speaking it was, of course, the way it should sound whereas my words were cheap, simple, maybe just plain ignorant.

After a moment I realized I wasn’t the pork chop in the caviar.  They were saving their disdain for Doloise.  It was something in the way they looked directly at her, as if polite snubbing was only for those they actually respected.  I almost felt better, until she looked at me again.  Her glasses shimmered in the faint burgundy haze.  “They wished to see the servant of closure their mage found.  They are disappointed that you have none of the old blood, for this will make it more difficult, but I am still certain you will survive.”