As soon as she was released and dropped through the hole, time seemed to slow down.
She was still falling into the darkness, but so slow, she saw the lid drop down on her exit and felt the shockwaves of sound as they passed through her body, although they didn't register as sound.
And then she was dissolving.
Oh no, not again! she thought, as she felt her skin disappear, her muscles disintegrate, her very bones un-becoming.
She wouldn't let this happen again.
The last time it happened, she woke up in a mental institution being pumped full of anti psychotics.
With nothing but the force of her will that she would NOT go crazy again, she re-knit her very body, holding on to her knowledge of herself, putting atoms back together, labeling the anatomy of her own limbs as she forced herself back into being. She imagined flipping through the pages of Gray's Anatomy, a book she had poured through in Art School for precisely this reason. Never again, she thought, would she lose herself.
She knew it didn't matter what happened when she hit the ground if she wasn't there when it happened. And then.... her recreation seemed to hit a tipping point, and instead of flying apart, she was flying back together.
And she landed, with a thud, in the arms of the very stranger who had dropped her down the hole.
"You're a stubborn one," he said. "That will complicate things."
His hands were softer though, gentler. And when she looked in his eyes, in shock, she realized they were not the same eyes, at all. Everything else was The Stranger, but the eyes were meltingly warm, like sunshine.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I'm your friend," he said, and looked up at the hole she had just fallen through. It was only ten feet up, a fact that chilled her. "And we have got to...