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Welcome to the Afterlife

The Garden of Proserpine by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.

The field of poppies stretches on for miles, carpeting the rich soil with crimson heads and black eyes. Insects hum and buzz pleasantly around the blossoms, going from to flower to flower and ensuring the next generation of blooms. Yet, there is no sign of animal life. Only the insects and wind brush through the leaves. The vibrant fields resemble a desert, auspiciously silent other than the whispering of leaves.

A sweet, sickly scent rises up from the flowers. It clogs the senses, making it difficult to see or hear anything. Death always comes to those who smell that scent. The bodies of the fallen sink down into the earth, and disappear. The bones lie just beneath the earth, sleeping under the blossoms.

Only the insects are impervious, the only creatures that the poppies need to survive. All other creatures are superfluous to the flowers' existence, and so are affected by the deadly fragrance.

Only one creature that is not an insect lies in these fields; only one creature lives in this desert. That is, if you could call it living.

Early Days

Plaintive grew up normally enough. He frolicked in soft green meadows of the harmless variety, and nibbled at the tender sprouts of trees. He drank dew that poised on the end of blades of grass in the early, misty morning, and slept underneath the light sky, close to the earth like a blanket.

One day, however, when the light sky churned and broiled, and dark clouds swept into the horizon. The pleasant winds bled away and were reborn as vicious, howling lions that screamed and clawed at the tender earth. Clumps of dark soil and thin grass were torn away like hair from a scalp, and flung into the very eye of the swirling storm, where they disappeared from sight. The eye of he storm resembled a wormhole, spiraling upward into the heavens.

Plaintive was caught in this terrible storm, and suffered terribly from it. The wind raked his soft, pretty fur and tore it to pieces; the earth underneath him rose up to pummel his little body, and lift him into the air, as though it wished to take the little rabbit with it on its journey into the sky. Plaintive clung to the earth with all his might, but it was no use. The storm was simply too strong, and he, along with a great deal of dirt and debris, was carried up into the rabbit hole.

Into the Rabbit Hole

Inside the inverted tunnel, Plaintive was thrown about recklessly, round and round, while the pressure inside the funnel increased as the tunnel narrowed. Finally, like a great sigh of release, the poor creature was deposited out of the end point of the storm into the light sky once more.

At first, Plaintive was relieved. The air was warm and comforting, as it had been before. But he came to notice a difference. The sky itself was not the carefree blue it had been before; it was now an intense blue that lightened into nothing, with a sickly yellow that crept up from the horizon to meet with the abnormal sky. The grass he rested in was thick and tangled, not the delicate filaments of grass that had surrounded him in his homeland. Above his head, red orbs floated daintily among the tangled jungle of stems and leaves.

After he had observed thus, Plaintive was exhausted. His small body was battered beyond recovery. His whole body was ragged with pain. His eyes closed peacefully. It was so much nicer to sleep than to wake. As his body stilled and prepared for an endless slumber, the poppies' scent settled over his body. The scent, of course, meant death for any creature. But Plaintive was already upon death. The poppies caused him to sink into a sort of suspended animation. His heart rate slowed so that it could not be heard, and by all appearances he was truly dead.

But when night fell, and the poppies' petals closed, stopping the release of the deadly fragrance, Plaintive woke. His body was sore and achy, but he was alive. It was enough.

Life in the Poppy Fields

The poppy fields are vast and endless. They live in a separate plane than that of the normal world, in a self-gratifying existence. The only thing that connects the fields to Plaintive's birthplace is the rabbit hole, which is ever omnipresent in the corner of his eye, hovering low in the sky. Plaintive believes that the end of the poppy fields is where the rabbit hole begins, but the darkness only ever broods over in the far distance, unreachable by his feet. No matter how long Plaintive walks, the surroundings never change. Just empty fields everywhere, full of red flowers and vacant dreams. Days pass in the fields, but time does not. Centuries may pass, but Plaintive will remain the same. Nothing changes. The poppies live and die as they will forever, and the little rabbit can merely limp along in the shadow of the tall flowers.

The rabbit hole may always be present in the poppy fields, but the wide end of it reaches to many different places. It hits in random places, and is often mistaken for a storm. It sucks up hapless creatures and drops them into the fields. Of course, none of the creatures survive as Plaintive did.

The Young Rabbit

Plaintive sleeps close to the earth in the day, trapped by the poppies' heavy scent. He awakes at sunset, when the air is pure and clear.

He cannot survive on nothing, however, so at night he wanders the fields looking for food. He mostly eats insects, the only food to eat besides the poisonous poppies, though he will not be picky if he finds a fallen corpse...

The bodies in the field are transported by the rabbit hole, and they often come mangled and torn, as Plaintive was when he arrived, but never alive as he was. Sometimes the corpses may have a trinket or two on them that survived the journey, and Plaintive takes these for his own. They are the only thing to remind him that time does indeed pass, though perhaps not in the world he lives in now.

Plaintive has never fully recovered from his fall. His body remains partially broken and bruised, despite the prolonged life that the poppies have bestowed. He continually feels rather heavy and sensitive, and treads delicately, as his body is fragile. Since his arrival into the fields as a young rabbit, he has not grown at all, and remains painfully undergrown and sickly small. His bones stick out much as a young animal's will, but his body does not grow into those too big limbs, and so he appears awkward and ungainly.

He desires nothing; for there is nothing to have. There is only the wind and the poppies and the insects and the sky, and none of them could ever be had. Plaintive only feels a faint longing to be at rest, and is most peaceful when he sleeps. While he does not think of it in such specific terms, Plaintive's one hope in life is to greet Death and escape that desert of blowing poppies.

Design

Art

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Fanart


Thank you Cella!

Thanks so much Kura!

Min

Plaintive's only friend in those eternal fields is his little wooden totem, Min. While the little wooden ox is not alive as Plaintive is, he is the only thing that resembles a living creature, and he is very precious to Plaintive. Min is chipped and scratched from his ordeal through the storm, and even more worn from being carried about constantly by the little rabbit.

As a lonely creature will do, Plaintive often talks to Min, and though of course Min does not reply, Plaintive still feels that Min is a very dear friend. He will have long conversations with Min, as he parts the tangled undergrowth and journeys ever on, in search for the end of the poppy fields.

Farewell

On and on they walked, and it seemed that the great carpet of deadly flowers that surrounded them would never end...The flowers had been too strong for the huge beast and he had given up at last, falling only a short distance from the end of the poppy bed, where the sweet grass spread in beautiful green fields before them.
The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

A sultry wind lightly skims over the scarlet poppies, brushing away a few petals into the sky. The bright yellow of the horizon, fingers firmly entrenched in the intense blue of the upper sky, begins to recede as the night comes on. The flowers close their petals reluctantly as the last light of day escapes, and eventually, the night sky is dark and clear, with the fresh air whipping lightly through the leaves. As the darkness is completed with the appearance of the faint glimmer of stars, a dark amorphous shape rises unsteadily out of the earth. It shakes itself once, delicately, and begins to plod along through the silent fields; endlessly, endlessly.

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Credits

 Art, writing and coding by Solo, please do not use without permission.
 "Castellar" font by Monotype
 Wood texture from texturemate



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