Alec could hear the wind rocking the trees outside. He knew it was because his bedside window was open. Some nights this noise would scare him, but not tonight. He lay there on his back, hands folded underneath his head, and took in the night around him. A familiar dark shade of blue faintly illuminated his room; he knew the moon would be shining brightly on the snow outside, had he bothered to lean over and look out his window. As far as he was concerned, time had stopped. He felt he could lie there for an eternity, just feeling the simple peace of a quiet reality.

He closed his eyes and relaxed his body completely, let himself sink into the bed. As he did this, he got the strange sensation of tilting backwards, like he was slowly flipping over. His mind wandered and he tried to imagine he was in a giant crystal sphere, rolling and rolling and rolling down a gentle grassy slope. The more he focused the realer the concept became, until it seemed he could actually feel the smooth surface of the ball, and smell the fresh air of a sunny afternoon.

Alec smiled and opened his eyes, and there he was, inside of his vision, rendered in breathtaking detail. He wasn't surprised, nor was he worried; he just lay back and felt his feet flip over his head, his head over his feet, and again, and again, growing accustomed to the soothing rolling motion of the giant rolling ball, sliding into the rhythm of it all.

Eventually, the sphere reached the bottom of the hill, and gradually slowed to a complete stop. The crystal melted away around him into nothingness, and Alec was left lying on a comfortable patch of grass, looking at the deep blue sky. After a few seconds he realized that the sky was slowing changing color, fading to… to what? Alec watched, entranced. A brilliant purple, then slowly to a light green, then back to a pure baby blue. A blissful, carefree red, and a warm violet.

Clouds floated about far above in the sky, clouds not only of white, but of every color imaginable, and some that weren't. They flew not all in the same direction, not all at the same speed, but in wild loops and lackadaisical wandering lines, intertwining and blending and melting into one another. Sometimes many would merge together and form a geometrical shape, spin around, then burst apart in every direction at once. It seemed the sky was alive, and exploding with a kind of beautiful intelligence.

Alec marveled at the patterns the clouds above were weaving, and reached up and simply plucked one down from the heavens. It was a tiny, humble cloud. Alec climbed up onto it and sat himself down comfortably, as the cloud seemed to be made out of a fantastically soft, solid, and weightless material. The cloud spiraled up and up into the air, hundreds and hundreds of feet, and then began to coast amiably along. Most of the color drained from the cloud, then, leaving it almost transparent.

Alec could now see the place for miles in every direction, and realized that the hill he had been on was only a very small part of an impossibly beautiful and expansive landscape. Sparkling rivers wound through sets of wide, rolling green foothills. Taller mountains rose up beyond them, continuing off into the horizon. Alec could spot several lakes where those rivers converged, and not all of them were on solid ground. In the center of one a pillar of water was flowing up, a kind of remarkable backward waterfall. Up it went for maybe a thousand feet, whereupon the water spread out in flat waves on a single horizontal plane, creating a thin, shimmering veil of liquid above the land, reflecting the scene of bliss below.

Alec smiled. He spread his arms apart and dove off his cloud, flew through the air, feeling the warm rush of air on his face as he steered left and right around mountains, under and through a canopy of tall velvet trees, and finally descended to the ground atop one of the largest of the hills. "I think--" he began to say aloud, and was pleased to hear his voice echo several times off of the mountains surrounding him. "I think I could get used to this."

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