The large field of purple flowers stretched in any direction as far as the eye could see. The one-foot tall flowers, each with five petals danced back and forth, enjoying the sunlight streaming down from above. In unison, they blinked the very human looking eye that was located in the center of each flower. Amid this endless field of purple flowers was a large flat rock, roughly disc shaped about ten feet in diameter. Lying on the rock, on a red blanket was Terrence Dechantagne. His nude body exulted, as did the flowers, in the warm rays of the sun.
“Are you happy?” asked a voice from above.
Pantagria floated down from the sky, her huge, feathered wings outstretched. They were twelve feet from tip to tip and as white as the clouds, as white as newly fallen snow, as white as faith and hope. The rest of her body was smooth and supple and sublime and beautiful and completely naked. Her feet came gently to rest beside Terrence and he gazed up at her lovely face and that perfect body. Her long blond hair cascaded down her shoulders, impossibly thick, almost to her waist. Her eyes were spaced wide above her prominent cheekbones and small but perfectly formed nose. Her full lips smiled crookedly exposing straight teeth as white as her wings.
It had been years ago that he had first met Pantagria. She had been as different as he had been. A beautiful child, an impossibly beautiful child with great white wings and cascading golden curls; she had been waiting for him in her little cottage. The little cottage had been there in the unearthly field of unearthly flowers in whatever unreal world the mind retreated to when milky magic was applied to young eyes. And Terrence had retreated there, with his boy’s body and old man’s soul, and Pantagria had welcomed him, and had enfolded his body in her own body which then had been only a bud and not the brilliant rose that it would later become.
“I am so glad to meet you,” she had said. “I have been waiting just for you.”
He had only sobbed into her shoulder.
“Tell me everything,” she had said.
“He shot her! He shot her right there!”
“Why? Why did he shoot her?”
“He found her. He found her with Mudgett.” He had broken into sobs again and she had pulled him tight against her.
“There, there,” she had said. Her large white wings had flexed out and folded back again.
“He shot them both.”
“Are they both dead?”
“Mudgett got away. He tried to shoot him, but he got away. Then he shot her again. And she’s dead.”
“But you’re all right. You’ll be all right.”
“How can I be all right?” he had wailed. “I don’t have a mother!”
“You won’t need a mother,” Pantagria had said. “You won’t need anything else but me. And I’ll always be yours.”
“Are you happy?” the fully-grown Pantagria asked again. Her wings folded behind her and she sat down beside Terrence.
“How could I not be?”
“You could have the sudden, stark, and horrifying realization that none of this is real.”
“I already know that none of this is real.”
“Do you?” she asked, stroking his cheek.
“How about me?” Pantagria kissed him lightly on the lips.
“Oh, you’re not real either.” He sighed
She stuck out her lower lip, pouting. He laughed.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I love you more because you’re not real.”
“How can that be?”
“You are unequalled. Nobody in the real world is unequalled. Everyone has a flaw.”
“I thought it was the flaws that made you unique. Isn’t slightly flawed and real better than perfect but unreal?”
“No,” he said. “Everyone has a flaw. Everything has a flaw.”
“Can’t something be good without being perfect?”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “You’re going to make me wake up and I don’t want to waste a full dose.”
“Too late,” she said, as the world started to drain of its color around him.
That world faded away. Pantagria faded away. The rock and the endless field of purple flowers faded away. Terrence was once again lying on his bed in his cabin aboard the H.M.S. Minotaur. Someone was knocking at the door. He sat up and looked at the door but didn’t get up to open it. The person on the outside pounded on the door, changing from knuckles to the ball of the fist. Terrence just sat. Whoever it was finally went away.
Picking up the tiny blue bottle on the nightstand, he held it up to the light and gauged how much of the milky liquid remained. The bottle was almost completely empty. He had been rubbing the potion onto his eyes continuously and had almost used it up. He would have to go get another bottle from Oyunbileg. He couldn’t quit just yet. He just needed Pantagria a little bit longer. Maybe he would buy two bottles. Money was no problem. Maybe seven bottles: he probably wouldn’t be able to find any more in Mallon. Maybe one really big bottle. The ship suddenly rolled with a wave, and he had to steady himself with a hand on the nightstand, knocking over a drinking glass as he did so.
“Bugger!” he cried. Shoving the blue bottle under his bed pillow, he jumped up and ran out the door, down the corridor and out onto the deck. The ship was at sea. There was not a speck of land anywhere on the horizon.
“Bugger all!” he shouted.