Araleen began singing again, now more loudly than before. Suddenly, two stars quivered to life above her, giving minimal vision as she neared the patch of light. Soon, more stars joined the first two in that corner, as if the edge of a dark blanket was being lifted. But Araleen hardly noticed, intent on reaching the light shaft she was gradually nearing.
Finally, she reached the patch of light, stopping what she guessed to be about six feet away from the strange-looking illuminated structure. The light emanating from it cast its fuzzy warm fingers all the way to the ground beneath her feet, forming a light-filled shadow. Here, the ground was not quite as soggy.
Araleen was puzzled by the patch of light. It was rectangular in shape, standing about three feet above her head and continuing all the way down to the ground. Seeming to function as a sort of television, it transmitted images that were a little hazy. She could, however, make out a beautiful field of purple flowers and high grass that lay under a brilliant blue sky. She could see shadowed darkness just beyond the field, where a forest of trees swayed in gentle rhythm. Drawn to the scene, Araleen pressed her hand against the warm image. Though it was soft, it would not give way. Sitting down, she contented herself with being near the shaft of light.
She gazed at the five stars that now poking at the black sky directly above, providing soft starlight and a sort of comfort. It is strange that the stars did not appear until now. They really are quite lovely. A sharp intake of breath. My song…it was only after I sang that they appeared. Perhaps it works some sort of magic.
Araleen instantly stood on her feet and sang, leaning into the rectangle of light, but it would not budge. She tightened her mouth in frustration, once more mesmerized by the scene before her. A girl was now sitting in the field, and she looked as if she had just awoken from a wonderful dream. She stretched and looked around her, seemingly confused about something. Throwing any caution she may have felt to the – well, there was no wind, but – into the thick air, Araleen attacked the dirt right in front of the image with her hands. If only she could somehow get past this grime into that beautiful place! She dug swiftly, pulling out chunk after chunk of mucky dirt. Not even pausing to check again on the girl in the light picture, Araleen worked obsessively on her new task. She wore no watch, and it was impossible to tell how long she dug because no sun or moon rose in the blackness. Finally, she collapsed and fell into an exhausted sleep.
Araleen woke in black silence. Mind racing, she slowly opened her eyes; she was on her stomach. With her hands, she instantly pushed herself up. A hard substance was beneath her…cement, she guessed. She saw a faint light coming from a wall to her left. Walking over to it, she noticed the hard metal bars that formed dark cold lines in the shaft of dim light. The light itself emanated from a torch some distance away, but she could just make out the dancing shape of fire on the wall just in front of her. Oh, spectacular. I’m in prison. She threw up her hands and coughed out a bit of strained laughter. Someone apparently heard her.