It would only take a few seconds before my body was crushed against the ground. It certainly is grass as I look at it and all I have to do is wait for it to be all over. Soon enough my body turns to face the sky, somehow turned around without any of my involvement. In fact, there was someone now holding me from behind, arms around my waist, and just as quickly as I try to look at that person, we hit the ground.
It last no more than a second, the fall, as I heard a few things breaking. Not sure what exactly. I couldn’t feel my legs, I couldn’t feel my lungs taking in air, and I couldn’t even feel the air hitting my face. I was completely numb. And yet all I could do was move my right arm from the elbow up.
I move my working hand to my stomach, where two arms wrapped around me. I know it’s Alice, just from her unique fragrance, and I place my hand on where hers intertwine. I cried, from the pain I hoped, even though I was numb. My eye sight started fading and I could no longer move my hand for the short few seconds it was following my command. I try forcing air from my lungs and out my mouth to speak..
“aahl..se,” I try calling her name. She doesn’t respond.
Feeling something coming from inside of me, instead of coughing, blood just starts seeping out from my mouth. I couldn’t breath anymore. I might have pushed it just enough.
I looked at the sky as my sight grew darker, almost as if a blur now, just like the first nights when I was first born.
…And then complete darkness.
* * *
* * *
As if only moments pass, I find myself laying down. No more numbness, and I could breath easily. I opened my eyes. A ceiling fan spun in circles, and I could even hear that faint ringing that electronic items would make. The pillows, too, like the other mentioned things, were recognizable to me.
I get up feeling very tense, stiff, and my body ached, as if having come home from a hard day at work, just like I always did. My desk, my chair, even a few coins with faces on them laying on my on that same desk, I recognized it all.
Quickly realizing where I was, I run down the hallway and check the room at the end. There was no one inside. I moved quickly again, this time downstairs to the living room, and again, there was no one. Hearing a drawer close from the kitchen, I immediately head there. A young girl stood there, wearing gloves and holding on to a small shovel and small clippers.
“Who are you?” I asked. I didn’t recognize her, and she looked at me strangely. Her long brown hair reached her back as she turned to the back door leading to the yard. She couldn’t have been any older than sixteen. When she leaves to the yard, the backdoor closes behind her. I follow after her, reaching the backdoor, turning and pulling it open and in that moment, everything just vanishes. There’s nothing, and no one around.
* * *
This different world felt like a struggle of two opposing forces. My body itself felt like it wanted to join and then rip apart at the same time, as crazy as that sounds, and seemingly indecisive of what its nature should be.
If I really lived in that other world for four years, then it’s obvious that time would pass in mine, too. Right? In the back of my mind, I was sure that was her, the girl… it was my sister. And now she isn’t here anymore. I fall to my knees and curse this cruel world for toying with me, letting us meet for not even a moment. We didn’t even exchange words, and the last thing I said was ‘who are you?’
And now I am here. I don’t really care that I’ve been taken here. What I want for once is to be taken back.
I start laughing, anything to keep me from breaking down. It took my a while to get back to my senses and then I get back on my feet. The white abyss seemed to go on forever. Miles stretched in all directions. There’s nothing, truly nothing. I pinch myself, and feel the slight pain caused. It wasn’t a dream.
There is air, so I can still breath. Even my feet make noise as I start walking in the direction ahead of me. The light that hits my skin also radiated warmth. I stop and sit on the ground. Proceed to touch it and feel the soft dirt here and there, and although it cannot be seen, it was certainly there. Grass also, just a few steps away as I felt around the area with my hands. Out of curiosity, I pluck the grass that can’t be seen, and only felt. Now in my hands, plenty of it and yet while I can feel it the individual strands of grass, all I see is the clear visible wrinkles on my hands. I clench my hand with the grass at hand. Somehow it just dissipates. It’s as if I was placed in an unfinished painting, and having only drawn me in it on a white canvas.
With nothing to do I just keep walking. Miles and miles, and nothing on sight.
* * *
I walked the first month, going about an endless road that seem to go nowhere. Eventually I reach different kinds of lands, and the only way I was sure of this was by the more common texture the ground would make as I walked through it.
Another month went by. For some reason I never neither sleepy or hungry, or even tired from what seemed like thousands and thousands of steps I had already took as began walking into nothingness.
Nine or ten months should have passed now, maybe a year. It was the only time I felt a significant change, and that change was felt on my feet.
It was sand. I kept walking along wherever the sand took me, making sure to get back should I start feeling grass, or really anything that wasn’t the sand. Not once before have I stumbled upon a source of water. At this point, I’m just curious. Can I swim in it? That’s something I kept in mind. Will there be fish? Again, I kept hoping for something like that. It took a few days after that.
It was all around my feet and it was nice and cool. I could even feel seashells under the soles of my feet as I try digging them inside the wet sand. The only problem is that nothing moves. Just the wind that seems tangible to this world, but the rest just stays still in the same place. The water, for example, it didn’t receded as time went on, or push forward to the land. I even waited around for months, walking around wherever there was water, hoping something new would happen.
* * *
I keep on walking.
A year or two must have passed now, but I am not entirely sure.
Finally, after a long walk I spot a color in the distance. Or perhaps it was a mirage. Be it one or not, I didn’t hesitate to run towards it and reach the color. Green, it as a tiny plant trying to grow in a barren, empty white world. I stayed next to it, just staring at it. Being around it made me feel sleepy and fall asleep shortly thereafter. By the time I wake up, the plant had grown several feet. Still, it keeps growing and growing and I just rest my back against it. Feeling leaves falling in the meantime, even though they could not be seen despite them likely falling from this tree, I rest my back against the growing tree. Eventually I was covered in leaves but didn’t care as it didn’t obstruct my vision. I fall asleep again.
Suddenly, something starts kicking on my foot, waking me up in the process. I open my eyes and the leaves that weren’t supposed to be seen, but felt, were now in full color. It was completely dark with the pile on me. The kicking is repeated again.
“Hey,” said the voice, “how long are you going to keep sleeping for?” Sudden drops of water start falling through the leaves and hit my face, irritating the skin it touches and wakes me up completely. I sit straight, move some leaves around and finally notice the young woman standing in front of me.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Just a wanderer,” she said, “traveling to a nearby city, and then I spot a kid sleeping in a dangerous forest.”
“Kid?” I look at myself, and realize I am back in that body I occupied for four years. There was no pain to or signs of anything to show that I had fallen from a top a high building at one point. The woman looks at me, suspiciously, before she began speaking again.
“Come on,” she said, offering her hand to me. Even if I said no, I don’t think she’d easily accept that. Ah, now that I look at her closely, she carries a longsword on her side. And an emblem of a lion is placed on her right shoulder where her cloth covers and splits from left to right, covering her shoulders but leaving her arms in view. Her dark hair covered a part of her eyes, but it was short nonetheless, only reaching just barely her shoulders.
I take her hand and get up. My clothes were tightly covering my body, making my movements rather stiff.
“What’s up with your clothes?” she asked, and I shrug. I don’t get it myself, but it would seem that I’ve been wearing those same clothes from last time. Then I’m reminded of the incident. I take my shirt off and look at the back. Faint red stains covered here and there.
The woman gets on her knees, looks to me face to face and removes what little water started forming in my eyes.
“Don’t be scared,” she said, “I’ll keep you safe.” She helps me put my shirt back on, but leaves the buttons open because the shirt is too tightly wrapped around me. The shorts, too, but that can’t be helped.
“How far away is Taliqa?” I ask, knowing that it’s where I was born in this world.
“Oh, uh… I’d saay… about four months north from here,” she said, pointing in the direction likely north. “That’s with a horse.”
I start removing whatever leaves clung to my clothes. I have nowhere to go. I tell her this, and she looks slightly bothered. We were standing on a hill with trees surrounding us in all directions. The tree that I rested on earlier before was taller than the others. I’d rather not question why, I experienced that empty world, it would just be another thing on my list that I just don’t understand.
* * *
We walked down the hill, the forest was becoming denser with every step the farther we walked away from the hill. At this point I was trailing behind this woman whose name I still didn’t know.
“What is your name?” I ask.
“Koi–” she paused, “… no, just call me Zeyl,” as she said that, she waited for me to catch up. “Yours?”
“Nice to meet you, Lee,” she said, “you should probably hide those.” She points to the buttons on my shirt, which are actually small jewels… or imitations, I wouldn’t know. “Hey!” she yelled, already a few meters ahead of me, “walk faster.”
On our walk through the woods we see wildlife, nothing different from the kind I usually see, like squirrels, abnormally large squirrels as we get closer to them, but most importantly, large bee like bugs that could very easily be bigger than me if we just got close enough sine they hover high in the air. All I could see when I look at them is food, just the squirrel, as I am starting to feel very hungry for some reason.
Still, we continued to walk for about a few hours. I was too exhausted after the first hour and Zeyl started carrying me on her back, which made the walk much faster. Once sun came down, we started collecting twigs until we collected enough for a campfire.
“How far is our destination?” I ask.
“At the pace we are going…” she said, “about another day or so.” Zeyl began collecting leaves from bushes, which she cut with a knife she had and didn’t allow me to help with it. The leaves themselves were large and thicker than what I know of. With it she built a small tent. “Give me your shorts,” she said. So long as I could keep my underwear, I gave it to her the shorts.
She begins ripping from one side all the way down. Adding another piece of cloth to it with a needle and string and extending it so that the fit is better. I thank her in advance when I realized what she was doing.
The night was looming in, and we light the twigs and wood we collected on fire.
“So… what’s your situation?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re a young noble, are you not?” She looks to my clothing, and it is embroidered with images of a fire bird holding a longsword in its talons. She then looks to my hair, which is a dark shade of purple. I also asked before about Taliqa, the hints couldn’t be anymore obvious.
“I ran away,” I said.
“And you want to head to Taliqa?”
“No, I was just curious.”
Zeyl takes out some items from her bag, food actually, and shares some of it with me. I thank her again.
She gets up and unsheathes her sword, plunging it into the ground near the fire and rests her back on the flat part of the blade. Though, for a second I thought she was about to do something unnecessary. If I think about running, it will be useless. Even then, I don’t really have a reason to, she seems trustworthy.
After finishing our meal, we head to sleep. Zeyl merely closes her eyes and continues resting on her blade, while I go inside the tent and use some leaves to cover me from the emerging cold of the night.
Tonight I dreamt about falling, just like I did that time. I woke up immediately as I hit the ground in my dream. My heart was still beating quickly with added adrenaline. The campfire was out and I could barely see in the dark. But I could hear breathing near me and a thick coat that belonged to Zeyl covered me with her armed stretched out to me. I close my eyes, paying no mind to it. I couldn’t sleep after that for fears of going through that nightmare again.
After an hour of no sleep, I kept struggling back and forth, trying to find a way to get to sleep soon. A moment later and Zeyl gets up, gets on top me and puts her finger on my lips.
“Don’t say a word,” she whispered. She moves outside the tent. I could faintly hear footsteps that came from several people, and quickly the noises start sounding off louder as if having been found out.
“Lee!” She yells, “Run! NOW!”
Heeding her warning, I start running, as fast and as far as I can. Running steps other than my own are heard from behind me. There’s someone following me and they are catching up quickly. The night was too dark for me to see and so my face dips to ground as I trip on the root of a tree and the person following catches up completely. Now over me and holding my arm down. From the background, I can hear steel hitting steel loudly. Sparks from the swords making contact are seen and heard from far and they suddenly stop.
The person holding me takes out something from his side and tries ramming the object inside me, missing the me as I use my foot to kick his chin. He drops the object near me and I grab it. It’s a knife. He let’s go of my arm and goes to his side and takes another knife out. I grab some dirt from the floor and throw it towards his face. He reaches to his eyes and lets out a loud grunt. I run to him with knife at hand and stab his stomach. He places his weight on me and falls over me.
“Lee!” yelled Zeyl. She removes his lifeless body from me and I start to feel the wet sensation over me. “Are you okay?”
It wasn’t water that was on my clothing and some on my skin and it didn’t even rain today. Zeyl picks me up and places me on her back and we walk off. We pass by some bodies on the ground as we near the camp and I pay no mind to it and fall asleep on her shoulder.