Our little group pushed on, moving forward steadily until we were standing within the circle of the sun with the deafening rush and roar of its flaming arch straight above our heads. It was as if we had stepped into the midst of a swirling, blistering firestorm. Stunned, I squeezed my eyes shut and covered my face with my hands.
When I opened them again, I found myself engulfed in a dazzling sea of light. Its brightness pressed upon me relentlessly, almost as if it had weight and mass of its own; it pounded and pummeled me, body, brain, and soul, while the lady carried me deeper and deeper into the vortex of the blazing maelstrom.
The farther we went, the more slowly we seemed to progress. Time at length ground to a standstill. Squinting into the glare, I thought I could discern shapes of people and other indistinct forms, though only as shadows or patches of lesser light flitting to and fro against the churning background of searing white. The flames and the heat whipped around us like tortured winds and waves. I held my hands up before my face and saw my fingers streaming with wisps of fire like strands of white-hot cotton candy. Meanwhile, the wound in my heart burned and stretched and swelled until it possessed me entirely, inside and out.
At last, not because of any pain I felt – indeed, it was all a strangely painless experience – but purely because of the overwhelming intensity of it all, I fainted dead away. The light went out and I fell down into nothingness.