I opened my eyes in the sudden cold that hit me.
I was lying on the dirty brown floor of a forest, cold and, very clearly, alone. Leaves stuck to my bare arms and tangled in my hair, and dirt was smeared on my face.
The sounds of light drizzle splattered around me, a quiet pitter-patter compared to the raging of my thoughts, which all struggled to be the most prominent. Finally, ‘Where am I?’ beat ‘Are the others here?’ to become my most pressing care, and I began to stand up, feeling far too groggy. Mai’s transport plan hadn’t brought them to this place, and I knew something was wrong, not just because I felt like I’d been spinning around for ages.
Unable to see past the fuzz that lingered in my eyes, and unable to walk in a straight line, I tottered about leftwards for a while, watching as the shapes of the trees began to sharpen, as though an artist was penning in their outlines right before my eyes.
It was against one of these trees that I finally stopped my uncertain motions, leaning against it to observe my surroundings. The forest comprised of, as far as the eye could see, an even mixture of thick, brown-barked unnamed trees and tall, white birches, the trucks of which seemed to shimmer in the dew. They were light and dark, two sides of the forest, but still the overall impression that it gave was one of darkness; a gloomy atmosphere for a gloomy place in the middle of nowhere.
Marking the place I had regained consciousness with a small rock and by a smooth pattern of the heart-shaped amber leaves, I headed off on a gentle jog forward from my position to see if I could find (or at least see) an exit to this tangle of forest. About five minutes later, the exit having not yet been found, I sped up and, consequently, hurtled over a randomly placed rock that had been dug into the ground. Clutching my sore ankle, I turned to see what had left me sprawled on the floor.
There lay a small square-ish rock in a space on the forest floor that was created by a ring of the heart-shaped leaves, brushed away hastily by human hands.
I thumped the ground with my fist. I had run right round in a circle! That didn’t even seem possible! As I pushed myself up again, I glanced around. Still no change, the area was as bare and unassuming as it has been in my first sighting. Looking upwards, I saw that the canopy of thick bottle green leaves was blocking my view of any of the sky. So, to recap, I had no idea where I was, I didn’t know the time of day, and, joy of all joys, I didn’t know how to get out of the forest, and nobody was coming to rescue me. Plus, it was beginning to rain more heavily!
The question ‘Where are the others?’ arose to the centre of my mind, sticking its like cartoon tongue out at ‘Where am I?’. They weren’t here, I guessed, but where I was going to find them was a completely different matter. And so, I was left with questions unanswered.
I felt angry with Mai. I knew then that I shouldn’t have such feelings; it wasn’t her fault after all (in fact, it was probably mine for suggesting the need to go home in the first place), but some evil inside me wanted to pounce on her and scratch her eyes out with my claws.
The anger coursed through me and suddenly I heard yelling. The sound of my own self yelling.
I parted my lips once more and let my demon yell furiously at the sky.