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What a strange forest I find myself in. So many shades of green, from the lightest lime to the darkest avocado, that's been left out for a couple of weeks, not to mention everything In between.
There are trees that rise into the heavens, almost touching the skies beyond. There are thick bush and shrubs littering the forest floor, leaving just enough space for the fallen leaves and deep dark brown ground to be visible. The only path that one could walk... And walk you must, as the night brings darkness and everything that lurks with it.
In this forest, you can't stay in one place for too long, as death WILL find you, so on the move you must remain.
This last little spot I found for the next two or three days has a hollowed out tree base, just big enough for me to fit and cover. There are bright yellow flowers parading around one of the shrubs just beyond the tree. The color is so vivid, as the little bit of sun rays lance them, they remind me of days gone by.
They almost shimmer like the sun used to, on the dam outside my house. I find myself, feeling the cool breeze blowing off the water, fading the sting of the sun beating down on me, as I sit on the freshly cut lawn. Everything is so clean and tranquil. I want to jump up, run down to the water and dive into the freshness and feel the wet wash me clean. There are birds flying overhead in a perfect V formation, heading off to who knows where. They look so focused on their destination that nothing would change their path, no matter what obstacles get in their way, they will reach their homestead.
But the sun soon fades away and the once bright flowers are reduced to a dull mustard color and so the memory also disappears. Darkness is slowly creeping in and I start to get myself buried as deep as I can within the hollow of the tree, cover the entrance with sticks and leaves and await the night's reign.
The once peaceful forest starts to come alive with the unnatural sounds from some other place. Snarls, grunts and yells. These are not the little critters you might be used to. They are pure evil with jet black eyes. Their fur is thick and musky with shades of brown, black and grey. They must stand about 6 feet tall, but are mostly on all fours. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of their frighteningly large yellow teeth, peeking out beneath their black snarled lips.
It always seem like they are out searching for something... Or someone. Smelling the air and inspecting the ground. Putting their snout right down on the floor and grunting so hard that the leaves scatter into the darkness.
Luckily I always cover my tracks and hide my sent with whatever I can get in my surroundings, be it dung, shrubs or bugs. These are beasts, I don't want to meet face to face.
It's quiet now, but I do not dare pear out of my hiding spot till daylight gives me the all clear, I don't think they are the only unholy creatures out here at night. As I snuggle back in the hollow I slowly drift off. I feel the tension lift and my consciousness slip away.
As I awake from the tapping of a woodpecker, Beams of light stream through my makeshift shelter, painting lines of gold everywhere. I push the shrubs away and It takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the morning sun but as it does I can see the footprints of the creatures that were out hunting the night before... I say footprints because there is something oddly human about them but also not.
I've been stuck in this forest for months now, trying to find my way out. It sometimes feels like I'm walking in circles… but I am definitely not, as I keep the sun to my back in the mornings and ahead of me in the afternoons. So I must be going in a straight line but so many things just feels so familiar.
The thing is, that I just woke up here one day. I still have no idea how I got here. I remember living my life as per normal… Going to bed one day and… Here I was. The first couple of weeks were horrible… I spent an entire day screaming for help, hoping that someone would hear me but to no avail, I then climbed a tree to see what I could see but all I could see was trees, miles and miles of trees, spreading out in all directions. I had to learn how to forage for food and where to get fresh water… the forest provided both plentifully. I soon learned though that not all was edible and which berries to eat and which to stay away from. I nearly died eating the wrong ones. I got so sick, I was hallucinating, nearly walked off a ravine… I was getting rid of my food, from the bottom and the top, at a rapid rate, I only just made it...
Then came the beasts… I knew from the get-go that I should not mess with them and stayed hidden. It took me a month to realize that there were no animals… None on the forest floor that is, only bugs, birds and a couple of small monkeys living in the treetops, my dung suppliers. I am sure there used to be lots of animals here but with predators like these… I guess nothing could survive, nothing but me, I hope.
As I gather up my gear, which is basically a bag I made out of the cover of the pillow I woke up with, my first day here, filled with berries, a couple of sticks and stones, that I've shaped into tools and my girlfriend’s locket, with a photo of her and I in it, my water sache and walking stick, that I picked up.
I take another look at the tracks left by the creatures… They got close last night. Too close… Probably only 3 feet between my shelter and the closest print. I'm going to have to move on from this spot. I can just imagine how they would tear me apart if they found me and those yellow teeth sinking into my flesh and ripping chunks out… No! Keep on moving, keep on living. There has to be a way out of this place.
I start my westward journey, following the clearing in the shrubs. I need to travel at least 15 miles today. Hopefully that would give me a bit of a gap between me and them, maybe about two or three days.
I've never seen them in the day time, not once. I find myself wondering where they go… they can't just disappear. There are about eight of them, or rather, that's the biggest pack I've seen.
I can feel my legs taking strain… I must be on an incline, the bush is so dense that I can't really tell if I'm going up or down, I can only feel which muscles are in pain and which aren't. The only things pushing me forward is the knowledge of the beasts and that what goes up, must come down again. The angle of the climb is getting steep now and the vegetation is getting thinner as my legs burn, but up I must go.
After about an hour I reach the summit, I actually have quite a good vantage point from here, but guess what I can see… A green blanket stretched out for miles. I don't know if I am heading deeper in to this place or not. I'm just hoping that by going in one direction, I will eventually find my way out. Nothing can go on forever, not even this forest, even though it seems that way. You know, I've not seen one trace of civilization anywhere, not even a piece of plastic, nor has a plane passed over. It's like I'm on another planet all together.
In the distance I can see a storm brewing and rolling in, thick dark clouds towering up into the atmosphere. It's going to be a wet night...but for now it's hot and humid.
I take a seat on a bolder to rest my legs for a bit… I wonder if my girlfriend is missing me at all, or if she knew what had happened to me. So many months have past, I am sure she thinks I'm dead. Boy do I wish I stayed up and watched our favorite program together. But no… I had a bad day at the office and took it out on her. I can't even remember what I said or her reply. I only remember that I stormed off, had a shower, then… I think... I went to bed and... I miss her so much.
After catching my breath and taking a sip of water, I get up, take one more look at the endless forest and move out, I'm not nearly far enough to settle. I walk along the top of the slope for a bit and then start heading down into the valley. Descending is so much easier than going up, I even have a little skip in my step. Everyone always said you must appreciate the small things in life...I never did, I was always too busy, or too tired to even notice it.
As I get closer to the bottom the shrubs start getting thicker and my speedy trek starts to slow as I navigate the terrain. A refreshing cold drop of water hits the back of my neck, it gives me a shiver that runs all the way down my spine. I look up through the trees and realize, that the storm blew in much faster than I anticipated and with it comes a sheet of water, seconds after the first drop hit. Just like that, the visibility is reduced to about 10ft and really slows my progress. It’s coming down hard, almost like the floodgates of heaven has been opened fully.
Out of the corner of my eye I spot a cave to my left and hurry over to the entrance, it's only about 3ft across and just high enough for me to get in when I'm on all fours. As I enter the cavern I can stand up straight with some room to spare, it's the size of my old bathroom, with some dried out grass and leaves in the corner. Great!!! This will do perfectly, as a temporary shelter for the next couple of days.
I've sealed up the entrance as its getting dark. The rain is still coming down but it's turned from a down poor to a relaxing drizzle, just hard enough for me to hear it hit the leaves on the ground outside. Seeing that I'm ahead of the beasts by a couple of days, I think a fire is in order as there is a bit of a chill in the air and I'm sopping wet…
I grab the dried out grass and leaves, a couple of sticks and dried bark, which I carry with me and use it as tinder for the fire. I start it by hitting two stones together, that I found, to create a spark. After my third attempt… Smoke… Then a yellow glow starts to fill the cave. Ah heat… It's been so warm here that I've never had to make a fire to warm up. The seasons must be changing. I wonder how that will affect my hunters. Actually, I wonder how it will affect me.
I take off my outer layers and place them on a rock next to the fire to dry out. I lay back and watch the flames dancing with each other, then I glance at the mesmerizing shapes it casts on the walls and roof of the cave, it's very tranquil and I slowly roll over and settle in for the night.
I hear a sound and open my eyes, there is a beast standing over me staring deep into my soul, saliva dripping from the bottom of his lip. Before I could react, he jolts down and hits me with its entire body weight, pinning me down as my eyes shut from the pain. I slowly open them, to come face to face with my hunter. His jet black eyes fixed on mine, his front claws curl into my shoulders, as saliva drips on my cheek. Oh hell! How did they get here so fast. He growls and the sound sends shivers through my entire body. His head rears back and it crashes down again, mouth open, lips pulled back and teeth showing. As he bites down.
I sit straight up and let out a yell, my heart is racing as I look around… I see the fire burning low, my clothes lying on the rock and the makeshift door, still in place… a sigh of relief escapes my body. A dream, a fucking dream… I throw another log on the fire and lay back down. It's definitely not the first nightmare I've had about these creatures, but man this one felt real. As the fire starts burning, I drift off to sleep again.
The forest comes alive with birds chirping and the odd monkey howling. I raise my head and my body follows. Sitting up right I take a look around at the cave… Everything is where I left it, the fire is out, there is just a little smoke coming from the half burned log, it must have been too wet to burn through. I get up and get dressed. The clothes are nice and dry and actually feels quite clean, it almost feels like my usual routine back home, getting ready for work. Before I leave, I kick some sand over the smoldering log to put it out completely.
I move the door to the side and I’m greeted with a bright, good morning from the sun. The ground is still wet from the rain and quite muddy. I take a moment to study my surroundings, as I didn't really get a chance with the downpour. There are berry bushes, the good and the bad. The cave is situated in the side of a huge boulder, about 100ft high. I didn't even notice it yesterday. There are beautiful flowers growing near the entrance, they are blood red in the center with yellow, orange and black rings circling outwards. It reminds me of the artwork hanging in my house over the fireplace. It was Jenny’s favorite piece. I can see her admiring it over a cup of coffee, looking back at me with a smile “ I love it almost as much as I do you” then she looked back at it, while I have my head in my hand, laughing. Those were good times, before everything just got to much at work and with life in general.
I look up at the cliff and notice something about half way up… It's honey! Oh my word… That's on my to do list for today, I just need to figure out how I'm going to get to it and what I'm going to do with all the bees buzzing around the nest. I can't even remember when last I've had honey.
I gather some berries for eating later, while I explore the area. There is a hollow tree trunk lying on the ground with deep green moss growing on it. I scrape some of it off, to see if there are any bugs. I've learned to eat bugs out here, I've heard that they are a great source of protein, pity no one said how bad they taste, but nevertheless, I eat them. This time there's no luck… All the rain must have sent them deeper into hiding. I look up and see some vines hanging from one of the trees… Just what I need. I test them by hanging on the vines and they hold my weight. I climb the tree and cut a couple of lengths letting it drop to the ground below.
For the next couple of hours I sat interlocking the vines and lengthening it. Up, over, back and through. Then repeat… I've got about 60ft or so, just enough to get to the honey if I come from the top of the boulder. I look up at the monster I need to conquer to get to the sweet, sweet, gold. It's high… But I'm sure, quite worth it. I gather a bit of tinder that's been drying out in the sun, a couple of logs and branches and put it in the cave for tonight. You never know if you might need it, it was great having some light at night as well, for a change.
The top of the boulder is quite bare with only one or two little trees growing on it. I've rubbed a nice thick layer of mud all over my topless body, to somewhat protect me from any stings that might come. I look over the edge. Man! That's high, I can actually feel the ground below pulling me forward. I quickly take a step back and try to swallow my heart back down. I pick the bigger of the trees and tie the vine to it, give it a tug and it holds. I again walk to the edge, look down and throw the other end of my makeshift rope over, in line with where the honeycomb is. I loop the vine around my waist and take my first step over the side, facing the Boulder wall.
Slowly does it… One… Step at a time as I feed the vine. The wall is still a little wet from the rain, so I'm being extra careful. Almost there, I'm just above the nest now… This part I need to hang free, as the honey is just under the overhang. I take my one foot off the cliff and then slowly slide the other off. There is a slight jolt as the little tree takes strain carrying my entire body weight but it's holding. I grab my sharpened stone and cut into the top of the comb, as its bleeding sweet nectar, grab it and shove it into my bag. The next piece, a real beaut is a bit further under and I'm battling to get to it. So I start swinging in and out, every time I get close to it, I cut. On my fourth swing I get it, but it drops… I follow its fall so that I can find it latter, it hits a bush at the bottom and is still intact. Yes!
As I look back up I see a swarm of bees gunning for me, buzzing and dive bombing… The mud is working…. Can't feel a thing.
I start my decent again, free hanging. There is another jolt and I drop a little… my stomach feels like I just got off a roller coaster, all tingling and light… Then without warning, I'm free falling, grabbing at the air as I speed to the ground below. I hit a branch of a tree, then the side of the boulder, bounce back and hit the ground with a mighty thud, flat on my back. Battling to breath I look up at the rest of the vine falling down with the tree following, then darkness…
I wake up looking at Jenny lying next to me, her golden brown hair covering half her face, man I'm lucky to have her. She opens her eyes and finds me staring, she smiles. “John” she covers her head with the blanket “no looking” I laugh and get up to go make coffee for the two of us.
The kitchen has a mahogany finish with white trimming. I open the cupboard and get the coffee and sugar out, while the kettle is boiling. Start preparing the cups as I think of everything I need to do at the office today… My mood drops… I hate my job, but it was the reason we had this house so I must just grin and bare it. I finish the cups and head back to the bedroom.
Jenny is not in bed anymore, I can hear the shower running though. I smile and place the cups next to the bed. “Babes, made you some coffee.” There is no reply from her side, just the noise of the shower running. “Babes!” I shouted. Still nothing. I walk over to the bathroom and go in. The room is filled with steam and I can't even see my hand in front of me. I find the shower door and open it, as I do… A beast jumps forward out of the mist. I get a fright and fall backwards, hitting the floor flat on my back as my head bounces off the tiling. My eyes shut, from the pain.
As I open my eyes, everything is blurry. “Where am I?” All I can see is shades of blue and green. My eyes slowly come back into focus. I see blue skies and trees… I'm on the forest floor. I try and sit up, but I'm met with a shooting pain in my lower back and I drop back down. I then rolled over on to all fours and slowly stand up. Man that was a fall and a half. I wearily, make my way to the bush that caught my honey comb but forgot to catch me, grab it and put it into my bag. On the floor the vines lay in a heap and next to it the tree, roots and all. I look back up at the hight I just fell. I am lucky to be alive, hitting the branch on the way down was the only thing that saved me. I grab a big leaf from one of the bushes, turn and slowly head off to the cave with my one hand holding my lower back.
Inside I place the big leaf down and put the two pieces of honeycomb on it. I break off a chunk and dive right into it, my first taste… Of… The sweet, sweet honey. Man that's good... Sitting down I take another bite. I don't know if it was worth the fall but definitely the trouble of getting it. My mood jumps up, almost immediately. A drop of golden nectar slowly runs off my lip and down my beard but before it got out of reach, I licked it back up. I'm not going to waste one drop of this honey, so help me.
I look out the cave entrance and can tell that it's late afternoon already and I don't know how close the beasts are, so I'll need to cover all traces of me again. This moment of joy was well worth it. I get back up and head outside.
I start by rubbing some dung at the entrance and sprinkle it where I fell and had a lot of contact with my surroundings. I cover my tracks with leaves and sticks, pick up the vines and take it into the cave. I glance back, perfect… Looks like the rest of the forest. I head in and pull the makeshift door back into place.
I wonder if I'll ever get out of here, or if my story will end being a meal to one of the beasts. I'm not sure, but I think I've been out here for about five months now… That's a long time… No interaction with other humans is starting to get to me. Not that I was ever really social before all of this. I would much rather sit in front of the fireplace drinking some coffee, than go and mingle. I've always been happy with my own company, that and Jenny’s of course. I wonder what she’s doing right now, if she's moving on with her life, if she still thinks of me…
There won't be any fire tonight, even though there is still a chill in the air, I just can't chance it. I take another bite of honey and turn in for the night. In the distance I can hear howling… It can only be them as I've not seen any wolves or even a trace of one. I hate this constant fear but I guess it's the fear that keeps me alive… there is another sound… Very faint, very far away… It sounds like a beep, beep, beep. I've heard it before but I have a feeling it's my mind playing tricks on me… Now it's gone again. I sigh and shut my eyes.
The cave slowly lights up as the sun struggles to make its way through the door. I opened my eyes after a good night’s sleep. I lay in the same position for a moment and then cautiously sit up… My back is stiff but okay, I thought I wouldn't be able to move today after that fall but I guess fortune is smiling on me. I look around and sigh. I really liked this place but I think I'll hit the road or rather path again and build more distance between me and the hellhounds or whatever they are. You know I say this but I don't even know where they come from. It just works out that I see them less when I stay on the move. I get up and start gathering all my stuff and the newly acquired honey.
As I leave the cave, I look back at it and the beautiful flowers decorating the side of the boulder, then I start making my way through the shrubs. The ground is still a bit muddy from the down poor, two days ago. I think a stroll will be in order today, there is no point pushing hard to make distance. I will easily make ten to fifteen miles today and I don't see any rain coming through.
Again the terrain just looks so familiar, a little wetter but the shape of the path, the same flowers even the way the roots grow… But I've not been here before, I couldn't have. I actually miss buildings, believe it or not, the smell of car exhaust and the sounds of the city and I really miss communication, just a simple conversation would be nice right now, but all I have is the odd bird chirping and the wind blowing through the trees. Day in and out… most of all I miss speaking to Jenny, I miss her holding me, I miss her hair and green eyes, I miss her smile and I even miss our arguments. I need to get out of here! I need to get home. I need to get to Jenny, if she's waited for me or not.
Beep beep beep… There is that sound again. I search the tree tops to see which bird is chirping this chirp. I can't see any but the sound is gone again anyway. It always sounds so far away, almost like it's not really there.
The walk today is slow going with the wet ground. I have to steady myself after every step as my feet sink into the mud. For it to be this wet, it must have really come down in buckets. In the distance I can hear this “wish” sound. It's coming from ahead of me as its getting louder, the further I travel. The sound changes to a “wash” and then to a rawer… It's a river, not a puddle or the small streams I'm used to, a proper fast flowing river. It's moving South to North and must be the result of the downpour. As I'm standing at the edge I come to the realization, that I won't be able to swim across as it's far to strong and wide. I am going to need to make a raft and that way stay dry as well.
I dig in my bag and grab some of the vines I kept, throw it on the floor and start looking around for materials to use. Luckily this shouldn't be to hard. I find a couple of dried out logs and smaller branches and pile them on top of each other as my search continues. After about an hour of gathering material and some more vines, I sit down and start assembling. My mind drifts back to Jenny and I enjoying a lovely day out on the dam. Me rowing and she lying back with her fingertips caressing the water surface, disturbing the mirror finish. I don't think today is going to be anything like that, looking at the rapids, this is going to be a roller coaster ride.
I wonder where the river leads to, right through history people settle next to rivers and big bodies of water… But here it might lead me all the way back to where I started, I don't know what direction the river might turn up ahead, or what new dangers I might face… No, I must get to the other side and keep my heading, besides, I can't see the beasts getting over this. West is best… I must get across.
I tie my last knot and give the raft a bit of a test by jumping on it. Everything holds, in fact it doesn't even budge a little. I have a tall branch that I'll use to propel and steer my way across.
I start heading up river dragging the raft in the water, so that I have a better chance of getting to the other side and not drift to far down stream. The raft is holding out fine, it’s sturdy and buoyant. This will work and might be a little fun.
I make sure all my stuff is secure, jump on and off I go… I head In a straight line towards the other end. Not even three meters into the river and it starts pushing me down stream. I can hold my line for a bit but it's taking a lot of effort to keep it. Just a bit more… I can't hold it… and down stream I go, I'm still pushing towards the other side but have to navigate a couple of rapids as well. Up… and over. At the bottom of the down slope the raft digs into the water a bit but holds up. Push, push, push I am making headway and the other side is getting closer, only about fifteen meters more. Here I go again… up, up and over. I hit a big wave and it knocks me off my feet… But I'm still on board. I get back up just in time to hit the next wave… Ten meters and I'm off my feet again, this time I stay down on my knees. I'm still able to steer from here. Man this is big water, much bigger than I first thought. Five meters… I can just about reach the bank, but I'm still heading downstream, it feels like the current is stronger on this side and I'm picking up speed with the flow… And land, the raft jolts to a stop and I go flying over the front into the shallow water, I quickly get back up so that I can stop the raft from floating off with my goods. As I do, I slip and scrape my forearm on a rock, the pain shoots all the way up to my shoulder. I look up and lunge for the raft. Got it.
I pull my makeshift boat up onto the bank and sit down for a breather. I look across the river and take in my accomplishment. There are no way the beasts will be able to cross this, even I would have drowned if I didn't have the raft. I laid down on my back and close my eyes for a bit and let my nerves settled, as a smile runs across my face. Things are looking up. First I found the honey and now I have a raging river between me and the beasts. I take a deep breath in, hold it for a couple of seconds and exhale.
I inspect my wound, which seems superficial and then this new world and it is pretty much the same as the old… I can't seem to find any hollowed out tree or anything I can call home for tonight. So I decide, under the stars it will be. I start gathering leaves to make myself a five star rustic bed and some sticks and branches for a fire. Tonight is going to be a good night, I can feel it. The sky is clear, no wind blowing, the river is flowing and I have food, besides getting out of here, I couldn't ask for anything more. I get my bed made and start on the fire. Before I knew it, I was building a bond fire, nice and big, mainly because I want too but also to say to the beasts, a merry “fuck you”.
My fire is lit and I'm sitting while enjoying a mixture for honey and berries. The taste is glorious. The sweet honey with pops of bitter freshness from the berries… Mmm loving it. The fire is huge and its lighting up the entire area, I find myself admiring my handy work, as little pieces of tinder blasts off the top of the fire and make its way slowly swaying from side to side, down to the earth again. The sun has set completely and it feels a little odd still being outside and not hiding in some hole somewhere waiting for morning.
I can hear howling over the crackling of the fire, it's far away, but definitely from the other side of the river. It still gives me chills, even though I know they can't get to me. I guess with the fire burning so bright, they know exactly where I am and are making their way here.
The night is quite beautiful, the stars fill the sky like millions of diamonds, I can see so much more of them than when I'm in the city. On the horizon the moon is starting to rise and lends even more light to my campsite. I take another bite of my honey mixture and lay back looking at the stars. A calm washes over me and just as I'm about to fall asleep, I hear another howl. This time it's close… I sit up and look across the river and see the bushes shaking violently, leaves fall from the trees and I hear monkeys screaming. Then… Silence… There's nothing, no sound, no bushes shaking, just nothing. My heart starts beating hard. I adjust my focus to the opposite riverbank and one by one I see eyes appear out of the darkness, with the yellow flames reflecting off them . They found me… but even though I knew they would, it still unsettles me. They are not even attempting to enter the water, they are just standing there, staring. It feels like they are looking straight into my soul and there is nowhere to hide. It seems like hours, but is probably only a few minutes of absolute silence. Then one by one the yellow eyes disappear into the darkness from which it came, all but one set, one pair of eyes fixed on me, with an intense glare that would drive anyone into their shell.
I sit staring back at it, trying to control my breathing and my nerves.
Suddenly a quiet calm washes over me, I look down and give a sigh. Look back up at the flaming eyes and slowly the fear that laid within me disappears and gets replaced by immense rage and anger. I jump up and start shouting at my foe. “Fuck you, you pieces of shit!” escapes from my body and fills the still of the night. “Go back to hell and leave me alone!”...
Nothing… Not a stir… Not even a blink from those soul piercing eyes.
I drop back down. What do they want from me? Why am I here? What did I do to deserve this? As my rage disappears and doubt and insecurity engulfs me, I look up once more and find the eyes still staring at me… Then they slowly close and vanish into the darkness. I would love to say that it makes me feel better but unfortunately an uneasy feeling begins to grow within me.
Where did they go? I don't know if they know of some sort of bridge or a way to cross the river. The problem is that they are confident enough to leave and not keep an eye on me. They definitely know something I don't. So much for a great night, I doubt I'll be able to sleep… What was I thinking building such a big fire. If that's not enough, there is that beeping sound again… Much louder though and I can hear that it's not birds, I can almost tell which direction it’s coming from as well… I tilt my head to get a better idea… West, definitely west… And it's gone again. I really hope the sound has nothing to do with these beasts.
I look across the river at the darkness and feel overcome with the now, eerie quiet. Even though the river is still thundering past, it feels like it's been placed under a thick blanket, drowning out the sound. I'm so tired but I can't see myself falling asleep with this deafening silence and the fact that the beasts now know exactly where I am.
I look around to see if there are any hiding spots I might have missed… Nothing. I then glance up at the trees hugging the river bank and spot a wishbone in one of them, just high enough off the ground to keep me safe. I guess I would much rather be uncomfortable and safe, than relaxed and dead.
I leave the fire burning as there is no point putting it out now. I grab my stuff and head up the tree, straddle the wishbone and lay back. Tomorrow is going to have to be a hard push. They know where I am even though it appears that they can't cross the river, I think they are going to push up their efforts to find me.
I cautiously start to drift off, opening my eyes every now and then to glans at the fire and my surroundings. With every peep my eyelids become more and more heavy, until I finally circum to the tiredness.
Ah another dream. Man, I hope this is not another nightmare, I've had quite enough of them for a while. Wait a minute… This is my last day, before I disappeared. There I am shouting at Jenny. “I told you, I couldn't take it anymore!” I look down to the floor for a bit, then back up to Jenny, with a tear in my eye. “I lost it all… I don't know what to do anymore!” Jenny whispers “but, my love…” I start walking away, look back and shouts at her. “They are going to take me out!...” Then under my breath “And maybe you”. I storm off to the room.
It's all coming back to me. This is more a memory than a dream, I think… I slam the door behind me and slump to the floor with my head in my hands. A moment later there is a knock. “Love” her voice softly breaks through the barrier. But I can't bring myself to reply as she walks off… I get up and walk to the cupboard with meaning, open it and take out some documents, sit on the bed and read through them.
I can't make out what it is, I am really trying to see but it looks blank or maybe blurry… I don't understand.
Everything is getting blurry now and then starts to fade, fade and away.
I slowly opened my eyes. It's still dark and the fire is burning at half mast, I glance across the river at the opposite bank… “What the hell!”... The river is not thundering past anymore, it's calmed down completely and now only has a steady flow and is about half the width it was before. It looks like it's going to convert back to a stream. I look down at my camping area and it looks just like I left it. The other side of the river is quiet and calm. I hesitate for a bit, then drop out of the tree. I'm going to have to start my day early and hope the creatures have not found a way across yet. The thought has not even left my brain when I hear a howl, breaking the stillness of the night. It's still on the opposite side but loud and clear. Okay, that means two things… They are still on the other side and… They know I'm awake and on the ground.
Without waiting another second, I turn and hastily head into the bushes. I give the other bank one more glance and see eyes appearing out of the dark. “Shit!” I pick up the pace as much as I can, but finding it difficult to navigate as my eyes are still adjusting to the low light. I can hear snarls and the beasts fighting under each other. At least there are no splashes, so they are still on that side. It must be early morning, maybe 4:30… I'm going to push hard until the sun comes out. Until then they can still get to me… That's if the rules I've come to learn about their nocturnal nature still applies with them, now knowing where I am.
Their howls are starting to disappear as I head further away. I can't see the river holding them for too long, it's definitely calming down. For now I'm just pushing away from the water, which should be roughly westwards, I'll correct my direction, once the sun comes up. It's not an easy trek but any distance I can put between us, is worth it. The vegetation is thick and I'm coming across quite a number of boulders and loose rocks, something that's different from my time here, in this God forsaken place. The further I travel the more unstable it's becoming underfoot and it's slowing my progress.
I'm about an hour in to my journey and the sun has still not shown its face but it is starting to get a little more light and helps with me navigating. Ducking under branches and hopping over boulders is becoming more and more prevalent as I move along. My legs are starting to scream from the slight incline I'm on. Then out of the blue there's the beeping sound again, but much louder, it fills the air and my surroundings. Two short beeps and then another two and… It's gone again. I have no idea what it is, accept that it's not natural and definitely man made. Wait, there it is again… No! It's not… It's the beasts howling and it's not far behind me. They must have found a way across. They are close enough for me to hear the forest getting torn apart, as they bash through it. I put my head down and start running. Shit!!!!! Is this it? Over, under, through… Push, push, push.
I can see a clearing up ahead as the little light there is eliminates the edge of the woods. I don't think this is going to play in my favor… As I break through the last bush, I'm greeted with a towering sheer face just a couple of yards in front of me. I pause and look up as the branches behind me breaks. Shit! I jump and start running as I feel my sack getting jerked off my back. One more step and I lunge for the face and… Got a grip. I pull with all my might and fling myself up, hoping to get another. Which I do as one of the beasts hurls itself towards me. I tuck my legs up and it misses me… And tumbles back down to the ground. I get a bit higher but can't see any more ridges or ledges. I'm stuck.
Below me the beasts are jumping and trying to claw their way up to me, snarling and sneering. Every now and then there is a snap as they take a bite out of thin air, hoping it's me.
I look back up to see if there is anyway I can work my way to the top… I can't see anything. The beasts are scratching and bashing the wall out of frustration, even having a go at one another. Then in unison they stop, all but one and look back towards the forest line.
Out of the darkness comes a shreecking howl. Slowly the silhouette of the Alpha becomes visible. It's quite a bit bigger than the others and I've never seen it before. Shivers run down my spine and I frantically search the face again for a way out of here, with one beast still trying to get to me.
There is a great crash beneath me and an exclamation of pain as the Alpha takes out the one beast that did not stop its attack. It looks up at me with its yellow stained fangs showing. Her eyes pierced right through me as we make eye contact. She looks up at the sky and gives a low grunt. With that, the other beasts grabs their dead brother and rush back into the forest. She glares at me for a few more seconds… Then turns and spray urine against the cliff, just below me. The strong smell of ammonia hits me and my eyes start to water from the stench. She then slowly makes her way back to the tree line, stops to give me one more look, as to say, we have you now… and then sprints into the forest.
As soon as the beasts disappears, rays of sunlight illuminates the rock face, I'm clinging to. I rest my face onto the cold stone as I take a big breath in, hold it for a bit and exhale... It feels like I didn't breathe at all, while the creatures were attacking. My fingers and forearms are aching and there is a little blood dripping down my elbow, from the wound I got yesterday but I can't bring myself to loosen my grip. My muscles are locked with fear. I take a couple more deep breaths and look up at the cliff towering above me. As the sun lights up the area, I spotted a crack to my right, that I couldn't see in the dark. I follow the line up the face with my eyes. That could be my way out.
I forcefully release my clenched hand and stretch towards the crack. It's just beyond my reach. With my body tucked tightly against the rock, my fingers slowly slide towards my way out. I hold my breath and lunge… Got it… But with the momentum, my body slings across and before my left hand could join the other, I slip and I'm sent tumbling to the ground.
I jump up, the second I hit the floor and peer into the forest, expecting the beast to come storming out. I didn't move for about a minute. Nothing… I guess the rule about the day time is still intact. I turn to look at the mountain in my way. It's really high and stretches out further than I can see. My view drops to where the creatures were clawing and bashing the cliff. There are scratches in the solid rock… If they can do that to stone, just imaging what they will do to soft flesh. Their claws would tear through me like I was nothing.
Right next to the scratches, I notice a line running straight up and make a ninety degree turn about 7ft off the ground. It runs horizontal for a bit and then back down to the floor. I take a step back to get a better view. That's not natural! In fact it looks pretty much like… Like a door of some sort. What is going on? I take another step back. It's definitely a door. One made of solid rock.
I run back to the cliff to inspect it. My hands run across the surface, trying to find a handle or anything to open it but there is nothing but stone.
In frustration I pick up a rock and start bashing it against the door but to no effect. “Aargh!” I step back and throw it at the cliff. There has to be a way to open it. Then the silence of the morning gets broken by one deafening long beep… it's so loud that the birds in the trees are sent flying off and I'm forced to cover my ears.
It's coming from beyond the door! But as suddenly as it came, it was gone again. I drop down to the floor looking at the door, trying to figure out how I'm going to break through.
I have to make a decision… Am I going to stay here and get this door open or run? The beasts know exactly where I am and you can bet your life they'll be back tonight to finish me off. Not just that but I have no more food or water, as they took my sack with them when they left. Okay, I'll give it a go for an hour or so, then hit the road.
I inspect the seams of the door, running my hands along it and across the door but there is nothing. Then to either side of the door. Tugging and pushing every protruding imperfection on the rock face, hoping that it's a secret lever or button but still, nothing is working. I bang on the door a couple of times. “Come on!” I take a step back. “Shit!” I'm going to have to run and also get some water, if I'm going to survive. As I'm about to head back into the jungle, I glans down to where the alpha marked the wall and noticed that the dirt just below that has sunken in where the piss gathered. I bend down and remove some of the wet sand and notice that there is a piece of metal. I dig around it and clear a couple of loose stones away. It looks really odd and definitely out of place. I try to pull it but it won't budge. I run to the tree line and pick up a branch and sprint back. Maneuver the one end under the piece of metal to try and get it out but it's not moving at all. Not even when I put all my weight on the other side of the branch. “Dambit!”
I grab the branch and toss it away in anger, drop down and bash the ground. Nothing is going my way… Then I look at the piece of metal again and realize that I'm really stupid. I get up and lightly rest my foot on top of the metal ‘lever’ and push down. As the lever collapses, I can hear cranks and cogs turning. I put my ear against the door to get a better listen but as I touch the door, it dislodges and I go tumbling in.
It's pitch black and the only light to speak of, is from the open door. There is a long passage that disappears into the darkness. I stand up, brushing the sand off me. I take a look outside and then back to the route I have to take… I wait for a bit, to gather myself and for my eyes to adjust a little and then start to carefully inch forward. On my second step I feel the floor give in a little and the door slam behind me. I lunge forward from fright looking back. “Shit!” I must have stepped on a trigger to close the door. Well there is only one way to go now… I again slowly start my walk, sliding my hand along the wall to keep my bearings.
It's been an hour and I've not come across anything at all, just this endless tunnel . At least I can see better now. The air is quite crisp and fresh. Not what I was expecting at all. It actually puts me at ease… it feels like I am climbing, slowly edging higher and higher as I go along.
The floor gives in again, but this time I can't hear anything but I can feel the air moving past me towards my rear. I stop for a bit… As the air stops blowing I carry on making my way along the tunnel.
Grunts… Barks and howls it sounds like thunder behind me. “Oh, for fuck sakes” I must have opened some door and the fuckers are in here with me.
I start to bolt as fast as I can, In the distance it looks like the passage is coming to an end but as I get closer I can make out the shape of a door. “Aahh” a handle. I grab it and try to open it but nothing is happening. I look back and can hear the creatures coming closer, in fact it sounds like they are almost on top of me.
Suddenly the door flung open and I'm pulled through. “Oh my God” there is no floor! As I'm falling, I brace myself for the impact. THUD!
I'm flat on my back and my entire body aches. There are pins and needles in my toe- and fingertips. As I'm lying here, I try and open my eyes but it feels like they are welded shut. I'm battling to move. I must have really hurt myself with this fall.
I can't hear the beasts anymore but the beeping sound is back, it's in the background but getting louder and louder as time goes by.
I try and move again but only manage to lift my head slightly.
The door must have shut behind me as I fell through… So at least I won't die by getting torn apart…
I manage to open my eyes but there is only darkness… Wait…
It looks like my eyes are adjusting, I can make out blurry images but can't tell what it is.
Something’s not right… It's getting brighter and brighter… To the point where my eyes are burning and are forced to close them again. Even with my eyes closed the piercing light penetrates my eyelids and it feels like I have nowhere to hide and that constant beeping is driving me insane.
I opened my eyes just enough to see what's going on. For now there is only white, blurry shades of white but everything seems to be slowly coming into focus and I can move a little.
I push my hands down into the dirt, to push myself up… The dirt feels odd though, soft and smooth. I don't understand… I turn my head to have a look at what's going on beneath me and see white… Not sand or dirt but a sheet, a white sheet. I shoot up into an upright sitting position staring at the bed. I'm lying in a bed!
Where am I?... What's going on?... I think to myself. My eyes slowly move up to inspect my surroundings. I'm in a white room and there are machines all around me. The one has tubes coming out of it. I follow them down and across the bed and to my… They are IV’s. “What the fuck is going on?”
I grab and jerk them out of my arm and remove wires on my chest. With that the beeping sound turns into a continuous tone and I see a red light flashing above me. I hear a commotion outside the door and jump off the bed, but my legs give in under my weight and I drop to the floor. I quickly drag myself to the corner of the room grabbing a chair in the process, to defend myself against whoever comes in.
The door flung open and a nurse comes running in, followed by a couple more. “Mr. Decker!” She shouts as she approaches me. I push the chair between us as I cower like a trapped animal. “Please… Please don't hurt me” I exclame. “Mr. Decker” she says again while slowly pushing the chair to the side. “John, we’re not going to hurt you.'' As they come closer I can feel myself slipping out of consciousness. “No” escapes my mouth as everything turns to black.
“Mr. Decker”... I hear from the darkness. “Mr. Decker, can you hear me?” I open my eyes and see a gentleman in a white coat standing next to my bed, inspecting a chart in his hands. He looks up at me. “ Sir, do you know where you are?” I look at him a little confused. “No”. He looks down at the pad and writes down something. As he's doing so, I notice a painting hanging on the wall behind him… It's of a forest seen from above. It looks very much like the view I had of the trees stretching out like a green blanket, a couple of days ago. He looks back at me pushing his glasses up from his nose. “ Sir, you are in the hospital and were admitted a couple of months ago”. My eyes widen with shock. “What do you mean, a couple of month ago? I just got injured…” Again he writes something down. “John, there was an incident… And you've been in a coma for quite some time now.” As his words sink in, I can feel the anger build inside me, I glare back at him and shout. “ bullshit! What the fuck are you doing to me? And where the fuck am I?”
He takes a step forward and places his hand on my shoulder and in a calm voice says. “We've been looking after you sir. I can see that you are a little confused… It's quite understandable. But I can assure you that we only have your best interest at heart. You are at Marry More hospital.” He takes a moment to see my reaction, which was none. “We have contacted your partner Jenny and she is on her way… Do you remember who Jenny is? I sink back into the bed. I don't know what is going on. I take a moment and answer that I do and to give me a little time to process everything.
He agrees and leaves.
I really don't understand what's going on. One minute I'm in that jungle and the next I'm here… Worst of all they know Jenny. What games are they playing. I remember the wound I picked up on my forearm and quickly look at it. “Yes!” There is quite a big scar, but looking closely, it seems to have healed quite a bit. It definitely doesn't look like an injury from two days ago… These people must have found me in that hole and patched me up or something. I really don't know what they want with me, or why they placed me in the jungle in the first place.
I look over to the painting again and something catches my eye… I swing my legs over the side of the bed and slowly get off. My legs are keeping me up but they are very unstable. Must be from drugs they gave me, or maybe the fall. I make my way to the painting. It's definitely trees but in the bottom left corner, between all the green, are two yellow spots… I leaned in to get a closer look then jerk back and fall to the floor. It's eyes… Eyes I've come to know well. The beasts! I am more convinced now, that something is a miss. I hear someone approaching the door and quickly but shakily get back up, climb into bed and lay back.
The door opens a crack and stops. I can hear people speaking but can't make out what they're saying. The door stays ajar for a moment, then swings open. The doctor… Or imposter comes walking in and right behind him I can see a second person enter the room… it's Jenny! She stands in the doorway, looking at me, then hesitantly makes her way to the bed as I sit upright, pauses for a second and then accelerate to me and hugs me tightly. I'm speechless and my mind is running as I slowly hug her back. “What's going on?” I whisper, holding her ever tighter, but there is no response. As the embrace continues, my defenses fade away, my body becomes relaxed and I started to sob. Jenny soon joins in. After what felt like a lifetime I slowly loosen me hold and take her face in my hands, make eye contact then look down to her lips, move closer and kissed her gently.
As our lips part I look over to the doctor and ask for a moment. He hesitates, then nods and walks out, closing the door behind him.
“What's going on Jenny?” I quickly ask her under my breath but instead of an answer I'm greeted with a look of confusion and then a pause. “What do you mean?” She whispers back in that beautiful voice, I've missed so much. “I mean… How did I get here? Why was I put in that jungle? What do they want from me? I start rumbling out. She looks at me with even more confusion. “Wait… Stop” she interrupts me. “ I don't know what you're talking about.”
I sit back and stare at her face… “The jungle, babes…. Why did they put me in the jungle?” She places her finger tips to my lips. “What jungle, John?.. There's no jungle.” She looks down at my hands and takes them into hers. “ You've been here since… Since that night. Don't you remember?”
I don't remember… I was home and then I was in the jungle. I don't know what she's talking about. Maybe they got to her and are forcing her to lie. My eyes join her stare on my hands. She slowly turns my forearm to reveal my wrist, where the scar is located. She looks back up to me. “Don't you remember this?” I look back at her. “Yes… I injured myself in the jungle.” She intensifies her stare and whispers. “No John… Not in the jungle” I pull my hands back and softly place them on her upper arms and whisper. “Babes, are they making you say this?.. Are you in danger?” I scan her face to see if there are any signs, hints, or indecision that she is in trouble, but there's nothing, just a look of utter disbelief and confusion. “No John, I'm not in danger and no one is forcing me to say or do anything.” She takes a breath. “Are you okay? Do you want me to call the doctor? I interrupt her. “No” turn to look at the painting and then slowly down to my arm.
In a calm voice she asks. “ What do you remember about that night”. Even though she didn't say it, I instinctively knew she was talking about my last night with her, before I disappeared. I look up at the ceiling then back to her. “ I remember us having a little fight or something, then I went to the bedroom…” I hesitate “ I looked at some documents… Then I… I think I went to shower and off to bed. Then when I woke up I was in the jungle and you were gone.”
She calmly looks at me softly and asks. “Is that all you remember?” I nod.
The doctor opens the door and asks to speak to Jenny. She squeezes my hand and makes her way to him. They stand at the door speaking in hushed tones, looks back at me and takes another step through the door, so that I definitely can't hear what they are saying. I can see Jenny’s hand gesture towards me, then back to her side as she intensely listens to what the doctor has to say. Responds and places her hand on her head, stares at the floor for a moment, turn and comes back into the room.
As she sits on the bed next to me, she gives a small smile. I can see that she's forcing it. “John” she starts and pauses. “The doctor wants me to explain everything to you…. But asked that I do it tomorrow, so that you can process that you are here and not in some jungle.” I look at her, still inspecting her face for signs of wrongdoing. I clear my throat and under my breath tell her that I know what happened and that I've been in this jungle for a couple of months. She looks at me, sighs… “Okay, my love” As those words leave her lips, I'm filled with even more emotion than when I saw her earlier. I try to swallow down the lump, growing in my throat, pull her close and hold her tight. She runs her hands up my arms, over my shoulders and hugs me. She whispers in my ear. “We’ll get through this.”
The doctor, still standing in the doorway clears his throat. “It's time Jenny.” She squeezes me a little tighter, then pulls away. “I'll see you tomorrow, try and rest up.” As she stands up I give her a nod. As they leave the doctor looks at me and says. “I'll be with you now.” Jenny looks back and gives me a wave as she leaves the room. I am so confused right now… Was everything in my head?… It couldn't have been and I have the scars to prove it. I wonder what their plans are with me.
The doctor comes back into the room, looks at the monitors for a bit then to me. “ John, you've been through quite a bit these last couple of months”. I stare at him and answer, “I know”. The doctor takes out a syringe and injects the content into the IV line. “This will help you get a good night’s rest” he taps the trap and looks down at me. “We can go through everything in the morning”. The room slowly starts to dim and sounds start to fade into the distance as the drug starts working its way through my body. As my eyes finally shuts, the doctor leans in and says, “you'll be okay”. Then darkness.
I find myself wondering through my living room, looking at the empty couch, up at the painting hanging on the wall, then turn and head off to the bedroom. As I walk through the passage, the bedroom door is ajar and I can see movement just beyond. I slowly push the door open and see Jenny crying, while speaking on the phone. For some reason there is no sound… It's almost like watching a silent movie. She walks over to the bed and picks up the papers lying on it, reads something to the person on the phone, then throws it back down. She really looks distressed, pacing up and down placing her hand on her forehead. I try and speak to her but there is no sound, she can't even see me. I move past her and go to the bathroom. For some reason I get a cold shiver running down my spine as I get closer to it. The interior of the bathroom slowly enters my sight and I spot something on the floor, it looks black… Maybe a little red. I push the door open so that I can see what it is… Its blood! There is someone lying on the floor but before I could get to the person everything goes black.
I'm back in the living room… Again it's empty and the painting is still hanging there but the room seems colder, more sterile. I headed off to the bedroom where Jenny is now sitting on the bed while on the phone. This time I catch a glimpse of what's on the papers lying next to her… It's my life insurance policies. I turn and slowly make my way to the bathroom and push the door open, expecting to see the horror scene again but there is nothing, just an empty bathroom… And everything goes black.
I wake up lying in bed at the ‘hospital’ and feel a great sense of relief, because even though I might not know what exactly is going on, anywhere is better than that jungle. I turn and look at the painting on the wall for a moment and at those eyes staring back at me, sit up and stretch while yawning. What a strange dream, I have absolutely no idea what that was all about. As I get up, I notice that the drip isn't connected to my IV any more and neither are all the wires from the machine. They must have taken it out during the night. I walk to the window to see what's going on outside, but my view is met with a brick wall just beyond. I can't see anything. I then headed off to the door to open it, but before I could turn the handle, the door is pushed into me and forces me back.
“Oh sorry! I didn't expect you there” says the nurse as she enters. She walks past me and gestures to the bed. “Come have a seat”. I look at the open door, then back to her. Everything in me says run but I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed. She grabs my arm and checks my pulse. After a couple of seconds she says. “All good… You must be starving.”
Food hasn't even entered my mind, but her words weren't even cold and my stomach gave a loud growl. She looks at my stomach. “I'll take that as a yes then” I can feel how my cheeks start to eluminate. “That would be nice, thank you”. She nods and makes her way back out, “I'll be right back”.
I sit in the same position for a little while, then look back at the door… Well they're not locking me in here, otherwise that door would be closed and bolted. I give a big sigh and climb all the way back onto the bed. Some food would be great actually.
A moment later she returns with the feast. Bacon, eggs and beans. Places it on the table and walks back out. “Enjoy” she says while leaving. I give the food a once over and dig in… Man! It's so good. It's been so long since I've had proper food. I can't see myself ever eating berries again.
As I take my last bite the doctor pops his head into the room. “Ahh, I'm glad you are eating… How are you feeling this morning?” Still chewing, I mumble “I'm okay”. With a smile on his face he say that he'll be back in a bit and that he just needs to do his rounds. “See you just now.” I swallow and pick some food from my teeth. Sitting back on the bed I put my hands behind my head and lean back, looking up at the ceiling. It feels odd not foraging for food or tracking west wards… I wonder what happened to the beasts. I wonder how I got to the hospital and what is actually going on.
About an hour later the doctor reappears. “So mr. Decker, how are we this morning?” He asks as he walks to my bedside. I look up at him and reply. “All good I guess.” He nods and writes something down on his pad. “Did you sleep okay?” He asks looking up from the pad. “Fine”...I take a pause and look him straight in the eye. “ enough with this small talk, I want to know, what you guys are doing with me? Why am I here? How did you find me?” The doctor stops me. “ Mr Decker, we’ve been caring for you for a couple of months now… Since your accident.” Getting a little frustrated. “Please man, I've only been here for two days tops.” He looks at me not saying a word, then writes something on his pad again. “Stop writing!... And tell me what's going on!” The doctor stops writing and looks at me. “Sir… You’ve had…” He stops and sighs. “As soon as your girlfriend comes in we will discuss everything with you.” I through myself back and as my head hits the pillow I answer “whatever”. He pouts his limp for a moment, turns and starts walking out. I shout after him. “Come back when Jenny is here.” He pauses but doesn't look back, then proceeds out the door.
There is no clock on the wall but it feels like hours and still no Jenny. I thought she was coming in early… beside Jenny, I haven't seen anybody else, as a matter of fact I haven't even heard anyone. I slide off the bed and make my way to the door, open it and step through. It's empty, not a sole in sight. I start walking down the corridor and get to the next room, look inside but it's empty. I slowly wander to the next one, but it's empty as well. “Is there anybody here? I shout down the passage. Pause and listen… No reply. Wait a second, I can hear a tap sound in the distance. I try to see who it might be but that side of the hallway is very dark, a light must have gone out. The tapping sound is coming closer though. “Hello!” I shout towards the sound. Still no reply. I strain my eyes to make out who it is. I can make out a rough outline. Then I heard a sound I've come to know well. There is a low growl. THE BEASTS.
I slowly back away, not moving my eyes off the creature. Then out of the darkness it's yellow teeth reflects the working light. It snorts and charges. “Shit!” I turn and run. I can hear it gaining on me. Hell it's almost on top of me. my room is in sight… At full pace I duck into it, almost knocking me out on the door frame and the beast over shoots. I quickly gather myself and shove the door close, as it arrives. It bangs the door and I jump back, staring at the flimsy barrier between myself and death. The door shakes and jerks, I can hear the beast clawing at it. Then… Silence. What's it up to now? I cautiously step backwards towards my bed. Then I see the handle slowly turning. “Fuck!” I jump onto the bed and in the process grab the chair, so that I have something to defend myself with.
The door swings open… And the doctor walks in reading his pad, looks up and sees me standing on the bed, chair in hand. “What the hell are you doing?” He asks. I keep staring past him at the open door. Look him in the eyes. “Where is it?” Looking confused he answers. “What?... And why are you on the bed?” My fear starts to change into anger. “Don't bullshit me! Where the fuck is the beast?” The doctor looks back at something just beyond my sight, then back at me. “John, there is no beast… There never was.” He looks back out the door and nods.
Jenny comes walking in, staring at me on the bed. I jump down and stand next to the bed and slowly put the chair down. Jenny steps forward. “Uhm... John, are you okay?” Looking at her, then to the doctor standing with his arms crossed, back to her. I wet my lips. “I'm… I'm okay.” I must be losing it, why are my mind playing tricks on me… There is no ways Jenny would be outside with the beast and not get torn to pieces. I look at Jenny. “I think I had a nightmare, sorry…” I look back at the doctor. “Sorry” I turn and sit down on the bed with my head in my hands, then slowly run them through my hair.
Jenny makes her way to me saying “babes, I'm sorry for the nightmare, it seems like you've had quite a number of them while you were… In a coma” she sits down next to me,takes my hand and looks at me. “Just relax for a moment” she looks back at the doctor… “I'll give you guys a minute” the doctor says while closing the door. “Jenny… It felt so real, like they were right here” she looks at me and says. “You know they’re not…” I look back at her “yeah… I'm starting to.” I can see that she is getting a little uncomfortable. “Are you okay, love?” She takes in a deep breath, pause and says. “Okay, let do this… Babes can you still not remember anything else from that night? I shake my head. She takes another breath. “ John, you went to the room and started reading through your life insurance policies. “I can vaguely remember reading through something, but that's about it. She nods and continues. “ after you read through it, you went to the bathroom and” she pauses for a moment. “ John, you tried to kill yourself.” I look at her and I can feel the confusion of that statement run all over my face. “I did what?” She looks down at my arm, then back at me. “ You took a blade and cut your wrist… Look at your arm, the scars are right there.” I sigh “but I got this…. I got it… I…” I look back at her. “ I… I don't remember.” She puts her arms around me and holds me. “That's fine John, it's okay.” I start to weep. “ I'm sorry, Jenny. I don't know why I would have…” She slides her hand up my back and pulls my head into her. “It's okay, we’ll work through this.”
I look at Jenny and pause for a bit. “I think, I need to come home”.
She looks at me as a frown runs across her forehead. “Uhm… I don't know” the words haven't even escaped her mouth, when the doctor reappears. “I don't think that's a good idea, John. Let's get these night terrors under control and then we can look at sending you home.” Jenny hesitates for a moment. “Uhm, yes… I think that would be for the best.”
Something doesn't sit right with me, but I guess the doctor would know better. I look down at my arm and mumble under my breath. “I guess so” I look at the doctor, “how long do you think I would have to stay here?” As he's about to answer there is a loud crash behind him. He quickly turns to see what's going on. I can hear someone screaming in the distance. He looks back at us and in an overly calm voice says, “ sorry, let me just sort this out and I'll be right back. You guys just relax. He turns and leaves closing the door behind him. As he does so there is silence. The door is sound proof… That's strange for a hospital. I start to get up and Jenny pulls me back down, “John, just stay here with me.” I look at her “just wait, I want to see what's going on. Her hold on my arm tenses. “please…”. I get back up “Jenny! Let go, I'll be right back”
I pulled my arm free and start making my way to the door, while Jenny remains seated looking after me.
I try to open the door, but it's locked. What the fuck is going on here, why would the doctor lock the door. “John, please come back here.” I turn to look back at Jenny. “What's going on?” She has stress written all over her face and just stares blankly ahead of her.
She slowly turns to me, hesitates for a moment. “I am sure the doctor will.” I cut her off. “The doctor nothing… I'm asking you what's going on and I can see on your face you know something!” She turns her gaze away again. “Talk to me Jenny.” I beg, as she drops her head and stairs at the floor. “I… I can't” she whispers under her breath, barely audible. “What?” I start walking towards her. “Sorry Jenny, what did you say?” Still looking at the floor. “I can't…” She slowly turns and looks at me, then past me to the door and back. “I can't… understand why you think there is something going on.” Her voice becomes more firmer. “Since you woke up, you've been going on about this dream you think is real and questioning everything.” I keep quiet and study her tense face. “John… Come sit down and wait for the doctor to return.” I hesitate, as her view shifts between mine and the door. “John!”
I slowly, make my way towards her and sit beside her.
“I'm sorry… I'm just confused at the moment.” She looks at me. “It's okay my love, it will all work itself out.” Again her eyes leaves mine and towards the door. Keeping her eyes fixed on it she leans in to give me a hug. As she wraps her arms around me and she whispers softly. “Don't turn… just hold me” as she hugs me “They are watching… They are always watching.” I stiffen up and try to pull away, but her hold tightened. “ John, you need to give them what…”
The door swings open and the doctor appears from the hallway. “ Mrs I think it's time you go… There are some tests we would like to run.
Jenny loosens her hold and then leans in to kiss me, but before our lips meet she whispers again. “Just play along and tell them what they want to know” and kisses me.
She looks at the doctor and nods her head, gets up and makes her way to the door. As I watch her go I try and hide the utter confusion within me. The doctor looks at me, “I'll be right back, I'm just going to walk Jenny out.” As they leave he closes the door behind him.
I fall back onto the bed and try and make sense of what Jenny said… What do they want? I think to myself. They haven't asked for anything… What the hell is going on. The fact that they are always watching, rings through my brain and my eyes start scanning the room. I don't see any cameras anywhere, In fact the room is quite bare but for the painting. That must be it! The painting depicting my last couple of months, must be hiding a camera of some sort. I glans at it for only a moment and divert my eyes. I don't want them to know, that I know.
Okay so something fishy is going on… But what? Jenny is in on it, but is she being forced? Where the hell am I?
The doctor enters the room with a nurse in toe. “Mr Decker, I can see that these nightmares are taking over your life and that you can't tell the difference between reality and what you perceive to be real.” I look at the doctor and feel the rage build up within me. I was just about to let him have it when Jenny’s voice plays through my head… “I… I'm having trouble with it, yes” I look down to the floor and take a deep breath. The doctor starts walking closer and the nurse right behind him. “If it's okay with you, I would like to do a treatment that could get rid of the nightmares and illusions, once and for all.” I look back at the doctor and pause for a moment. “Yes” I whisper under my breath. I clear my throat. “Yes, I would really appreciate it if you could help me.”
As the doctor gets to my bedside he puts his hand on my shoulder. “That's great. Let's get this sorted and get you back home.” I see a slight, seemingly sincere smile cross his face. “That's all I want.”
The nurse slowly come into sight from behind the doctor and moves towards me. I can see that she has a syringe in her hand. The doctor’s hand on my shoulder starts to tense and push down. “ don't worry, this will only help you relax and get you ready for the treatment.” I want to start resisting but instead in a calm voice ask. “Is it necessary?” The doctor loosens his grip a little, realizing I'm not putting up a fight. “It's for your own good…” I look down and offer my arm to the nurse. She gently finds a vain and administers the injection.
The syringe is hardly out my arm and I can start feeling the effects running through my body. A warm aura moves over my body and I lie back down. The doctor looks at me and can see that the drug is starting to do its job. He turns and looks at the nurse. “Okay, we’ve tried the easy way… It's time to ramp up the treatment.” As they walk towards the door, I hear in a hollow distant fade. “We’ll get the info now, even if it leaves him a vegtible…..” Everything summits to darkness.
I can hear voices in the distance, but can't make out what they are saying. There are more than one… I can see blurry faces. It's like listening and looking through water but I can breathe fine.
I am battling to make out what they are saying, it's like…. It's… They are, they are asking me questions. I can hear myself answering… But it's not me…
“Yes, I did.”
What the hell is going on. I can't hear them, but I'm answering questions. What did they do to me?
“It's a hundred and fifty million”
“I put it in the safe”
What are they looking for? What did I put in the safe? Come on, think, think.
Through a misty haze I see myself signing papers lying on the bed. I'm in my room at home… it's, my will… Wait there is something else.
“The safe is behind the painting”
It's bearer bonds! Oh my God… I remember. I took it from the office… Did I steal it?... Surely not. It wasn't all, there were other documents…
Shit, I was forced to, or they would kill Jenny!
“Left...” I force a moan out.
Nuclear plant plans! They made me steal it for them… But I couldn't bring myself to give it to them. That's why I… I locked it away and tried to take me out of the equation by…
I didn't cut myself! I… Shot myself!
I can hear them now. “ it's not working, he is resisting again.”
“Increase the dose” I hear, but it sends shivers down my spine. I know the voice… It's Jenny! “But it could send him off the edge again, or even kill him, he already can't tell the truth from fiction.” another voice answers. “I don't care! I want those docks. I've worked too long and hard to get it. “Okay, your the boss…”
That bitch! She was playing me all this time. I focus as hard as I can and forced out my voice.
I feel myself falling deeper again. I won't give it up… Never! I won't… I…
The darkness is flowing in and down, down, down.
I feel the warm beams of light showering me and heating me up. It feels really good, so peaceful. I slowly opened my eyes. Everything is white and bright, my eyes slowly adjust to the light and I can see shades of green fill my view.
I jump up and frantically look around. Why am I in a forest?
I remember going to bed at home last night and...