Look both ways before you cross the street. Seems like a pretty simple phrase. It is, and that's exactly why it is drilled into our soft heads since before kindergarten. It's like propaganda, SAFETY FIRST, and DON'T RUN WITH SCISSORS, and MOTHER IS WATCHING YOU. That's a stretch, but it still seems to fit, don't you think?

I'm rambling now, so let's get to the point. After years of safe actions and being taught lesson after lesson, it seems almost arbitrary to even think when crossing the street, and the action of looking both ways is a reflex. But why, GOD WHY did I not DO IT!

The afternoon was hot and sticky, seeming like a needle was pushed into your neck, a needle covered in dried soda. That's how summer feels in Vermont. Winter is cold as shit, summer is hot as shit. I needed to get somewhere, somewhere I do not currently remember. All I do remember is the feeling of wanting to be somewhere after a long day. Maybe even home.

I passed by the Rutland community playground, the smell of hot iron and screaming children issuing forth. This was cut out occasionally by the sound of an Omya Marble Company train thundering past. Nothing out of the ordinary.

But as a wise man once said, the most normal of times is when the most shit hits the fan.

This cross walk wasn't different to me, it was one I crossed every day. Why wasn't I thinking? Why wasn't I looking? I took a step. There was a quiet susurrus, like a whisper. All went quiet. What the fuck? I took another step. There was a tremble from the ground. I looked down.

The spaces between the bars of the crosswalk were melting. The tar liquefied off like a licorice ice cream cone. The ground hissed. under the tar were large panes of glass, and I realized I was looking underground.

The hole below me was a massive cavern, and inside was a giant building, which looked like a church. Its walls were crumbling from the weight of the world above it. The bell tower had a large inscription on it, scrawled like with a dying pen, simply reading, "Where We All End Up."

The bell was larger than an elephant, and, through some great feat of engineering, began to ring. Not a low, dark funeral tone, but somehow, it had the higher, sweet tintinnabulation of a wedding bell. I stood amazed for a minute, just listening to the sweet tone.

Suddenly, the sweet ring became something else. It was a high, animal tone, full of rage, filled with anger, filled with pain. It was like a massive claw on a quarry of slate, it burst my eardrums, so that I could not hear much but a dull ringing. The ground cracked and exploded. Out of the gaping hole left by the explosion, a giant ebony claw issued forth.

The creature looked like a giant black crab, but had hundreds of spiked legs. It had hearts covering it, human ones, lots of normal ones, and, too my horror, tiny, baby sized ones.

A giant black neck extended from the creature, breaking from the shell, pus issuing forth from the hole it left. The neck hovered in mid air, then shot out towards me. It had a mask, it looked sort of like a mask out of Noh theatre. The mask split open. Inside was a beautiful female face.

"W...why..." I croaked.

The Female smiled. I heard a voice from inside my head.

"Safety First."