Out of the Woods

Falling is easy, but I wish I had a warning when it happened.

I’ve mentioned before that there’s a place I fall into sometimes. A forest, or rather, The Forest. Today, though, was different.

My feet were bare and I was standing on a sandy beach. It wasn’t a warm beach, the kind you find in California or down South, but a cold, salty beach from up north. I still wore my tattered jeans, the ones that end just below my knees in tattered fabric, ripped and ragged all along the calf and shin. Today, though, I wore a jacket of dark blue-grey fabric that looked to be made of canvas but seemed to be keeping out the wet and the cold quite well.

All before me was a large, foamy sea, grey and harsh, its waves crashing in the distance and inching up the beach. I stood there for awhile, staring out at the horizon before me. Behind me I could sense The Forest, though I never made my way from its edge to the water, not that I remember.

As I made my way left, finally tearing my eyes from the sea, I noticed…someone nearby. Something nearby. Sitting on a sandy log of driftwood was a man. At least, I think it was a man. His arm appeared armored like a crab’s and his face was…spongey, like lichen and fungus had taken over it. I sat beside him on the driftwood and watched him for a moment, but I could not seem to get a clear sight of him. It was like my eyes kept sliding off him. Finally, I asked “Do you have something for me?”

No answer. I sighed and dug my toes into the sand, then my feet, then began to slide off the driftwood and bury myself in the sand. I slid in until I was covered past my head and found myself in darkness, floating slightly downward.

Below me, in the distance, was an explosion of color. Bright green grass the color of emeralds, a shining road, and buildings of bright colors that spread. As I fell, I tried to get an idea of what was around me but like the man above, I could not seem to get a good look. When I finally fell and landed on a patch of grass between the darkness and the road above, I hesitated.

And then I began to run.

It wasn’t terror that filled me, but a firm sense of “Get to the river,” a twisting, sparkling snake I could see in the distance. Not far, but I would have to go between two small hills and cross the road a half dozen times to get to it. I could not follow to road, though. Following the road would get me nowhere. So, as one in a hurry should always do, I chose the direct path and ran as the crow flies, straight at the river. Hands and feet worked together; I was running on all fours but still human, not a wolf as I found myself in the past. I knew that something was behind me, following me (chasing me?) but I did not look back.

It wasn’t long until I got to the river, though. I jumped in and began to float upon its waters, downstream.

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