I was painting a beautiful picture of a horse: the color of the creamy moon. I wasn't sure if the horse was running to, or away from something. The horse ran in a moor of brilliant flowers that stood out even in the wall of dark sky sprinkled with stars. The moon shone full and bright and it danced on the horse's long, silky hair. The mountains were sharp, but a deep purplish color against the night.-A knock on the door startled me. Who could be here at 7 pm? I thought to myself. I hopped off from the stool and walked over to the door.

"Hello, ma'am. Here is a package for you, miss." A mailman in white and navy blue clothes stood in front of my door with a massive box wrapped in brown paper and dark, thick strings. "My apologies miss, for it cannot fit through the door. But come out here and open it." He continued, politely.

I walked out to the box and looked around it. "Excuse me, sir, but who is this from?" I asked, puzzled. There was only a fancy To Astrid with no "from" or the person's address. I heard no answer. I double checked the box. There was no writing except my name addressed on it.

"Sir?" I started to ask again. I lifted my head, but to see no one there.

Open it. Open it! OPEN IT NOW! A dark, deep, ghoulish voice echoed all around me. I abruptly turned around, looking from side to side. Still, there was no mailman in sight. My heart accelerated. Open it now! I felt a cold push on my back. With trembling fingers, I slowly opened the box and fell in.

I was screaming and screaming, with an endless fall. All around me was darkness. I heard noises, other screams, laughter, glass breaking, hoarse coughing, owls hooting, dogs barking, cats meowing, and horses neighing. Then with a thud, everything was dead silent and I crashed into subconsciousness.

A loud thudding woke me up and I sat up straight with my head swimming. What's that sound? I thought to myself. I shook my head and squeezed my eyes tight shut. When I reopened them, everything was white for a few seconds. Then colors blotched in my view. A horse's snout came up into view and I flinched back, startled.

"Don't worry! I won't hurt you. Don't be scared! But we have to go, Astrid! We have to go now. Let's hurry, before it's too late!" Said the white brilliant horse. It was white as snow and its hair sparkled in the sun. I sat with a confused expression. What's going on? Where in the world am I?

"No time to ask questions! WE HAVE TO GO!" The pretty horse neighed impatiently. How did this horse know I asked questions…?

"I can hear your thoughts." The horse answered. "Oh, and call me Dawn."

I blinked twice fast. What?

"Am I dreaming?" I asked slowly.

"Sure, put it that way."

I tilted my head, even more confused. "No really, am I?"

"Quit stalling!" Dawn rolled her eyes and I felt a strong blast of wind. Before I knew it, I was on Dawn's back and she was galloping. I gripped tightly and firmly to her main.

"I am so confused." I mumbled.

"Don't worry," she panted. "You are here to help me save him.

"Save who?"

Dawn sighed. I heard a high bell sound, even through the strong pressure of the wind. Something in my mind clicked. Everything became clear and I knew why I was here: to save Jared. Jared is my lover and he is trapped by the Snake. The people in this world are all trapped by the Snake. The Snake is their master, and he controls everyone. There is no war, no sadness whatsoever. This world isn't perfect though, but it's close. People still die of old age, and there are still sicknesses. But no love. There are families, but no one loves each other.

I had to save Jared, but I did not know how. I also didn't know where he was.

"You'll figure it out. I'm taking you to him." I heard a grin in Dawn's gentle voice.

A few hours later I woke up in a cell. How did I get here? I had no idea. Everything was dark, and I heard a soft plink, plink sound of water dripping somewhere off in the corner. I smelled a slight burning smell. Like left over burnt wood from a fireplace. I went to the bars of the cell. A jail? I thought, panicking. Why am I in a jail? My heart accelerated and I gripped the bars tightly. I strained my ears, trying to hear any sign of voices. My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I saw a tiny, bobbing light, becoming bigger and higher in the air. Someone was holding a lantern. And that someone was someone I knew, but never have met before.

"Jared! You came for me! Oh, Jared. I love you so much." I blinked back in surprise at my words I had spoken. But they fit perfectly in that moment. Fit like a glove. Jared walked over to me and jingled some keys in his left palm. He grinned and whispered.

"I love you too, Astrid. I love you so much." He unlocked the door of my cell and I crawled out. I jumped in his waiting arms and we hugged. We kissed. Then something started to pound in my ears. A painful high piercing sound, like someone screeching their nails on a chalkboard, rang throughout my body. My heart thumped in a strange rhythm. My thoughts ran as if in a perfect documented order. Perfect and neat. Quick, but with a clear pace. My head was a crowd of people running in one direction. It was avoiding the Snake. The Snake is near. He's controlling me. HE'S CONTROLLING ME! I shook my head and grasped Jared's biceps tightly. His eyes went blank and he started walking towards the end of the thin, claustrophobic hall of jail cells.

"No, Jared, NO!" I screamed to the top of my lungs. I fought the crazy sensation of control around me. I ran to the end of the jail room. I appeared into another room. I spotted the glass… the glass that the Snake was held in. I pounded it with my fists. I pounded it so hard it started to get cracks in it.

"Astrid! What the heck are you doing? Get away from there! You'll hurt the Snake!" Jared ran to me, grasping my arms and shoving me away harshly. He leaned over the glass box, running his hands over it frantically, searching for more cracks. He mumbled to himself. "Oh no," his eye brows puckered. "Oh no. Astrid."

I blinked back tears. What was going on? I walked next to him and peaked over his shoulder. The Snake was weaker, but I heard a ringing in my head. "Die." It whispered. "Dieee." The Snake rolled out his tongue and hissed at me.

"Back away!" The Snake shot through the glass, spraying shards of it onto our skin. I started to get pricks of blood on my arms. Jared spread his hands out and pushed himself backwards, making me start to run. "Run!"

So we ran.

We ran as fast as our legs could carry us. The Snake frantically surged behind us.

Crash! Boom!

Fire licked its flames all around me. What the happened? Heat sizzled the hair off my arms. Where's the fire coming from?

"Jared? Jared? Jared!" I whisked my head back and forth, looking for him. Blacks spots blinded my vision. I fell. I fell an endless fall, screaming, hearing outrageous sounds.

"Oh!" I fell on my knees and scraped them. Someone's hand touched my shoulder. I gasped again, a rush of adrenaline shot down my spine. Millions of thoughts crashed in my head. I turned around.

"Jared!" I breathed.

"Astrid, this painting is beautiful." He said, mesmerized. I sat up slowly, my head pounding in pain. I moaned

"What—how did I get to my house?"

"There was a fire. The Snake died." Jared replied in a monotone voice.

"How…how...the fire?"

"I lit a match I found in the corner of your cell. Then when the fire started, the Snaked burned in it. Dawn sang a beautiful song and me and you fell out of the package." He replied again in the same tone of voice.

I moaned again. He rushed to me, cupping my face with his palms. "Are you okay?"

I nodded, lolling my head back onto the pillow of the couch.

"Sleep, my love. You need rest." He murmured, leaning down to kiss my forehead.

Before I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep, I peaked at my painting. My heart skipped a beat because I saw a tall, brown, package wrapped in dark strings that I knew I didn't paint before.