I had given up. I was trapped. There was no way, as far as I could tell, to free myself from this place, wherever and whatever it was. Long ago, I had ceased to kick and punch at the rectangular frame.
Apart from me, that frame was the only other tangible thing in this misty nothingness, when nothing was reflected into it.
My digital watch had ceased to work, as if the battery was dead.
I curled up on the ground, and tried to sleep. However, I found myself in a state of insomnia, as if I didn't need sleep within the confines of this trap. And it had nothing to do with the fact that gravity seemed to shift in intensity every few minutes, rising and falling in an otherworldly way.
At some point, I remember running in circles. However, they weren't quite circles, as I knew circles to be. I don't know how to explain that. I suppose space was different here.
Again, I lay down and did not sleep.
I lost track of time. Or maybe time lost track of me.
And then, I felt the pain. It was a pain in my pants, that stung at my genitals like an infection. I cringed, clenching my body, doubling over. And it rose and fell with a rhythmic intensity, for several minutes, before climbing to a precipice of pain I'd never felt before in my life. My back arched, my limbs splayed out upon the ground that wasn't exactly there. And I blacked out.
That was the closest thing to sleep I was to get within this trap.
Then, I opened my eyes. There was a bright light, opposite the frame. It was a scintillation, fixed to one spot in the air.
I stood, and watched it curiously.
Then, it exploded perpendicular to me in a way I can only describe as two-dimensional. It was a flat brilliance now, that shimmered like the surface of a reflective pool. And out of it, came a foot.
A thickly bound leather boot, and then thick gray pants. Another leg in another boot, and then the hem of a grizzled off-white robe. The wide hips of a woman, a belt of tarnished silver.
Her face was that of an ethnicity I know not. And she smiled beautifully, even without make-up, save for the diagonal smudges of clay upon her cheeks. Curly brown hair fell from her head with wild abandon, from beneath a wide-brimmed tophat.
In one hand, she held a shining mirror. Its glass was shattered, and the fragments shone. In the other, she held a scepter of that same tarnished silver.
She eyed me with pity, and walked around me towards the frame.
I stood still, unsure of whether to try my English or French upon her, or to bolt toward the shimmering portal from which she had entered these bizarre confines.
One slender index finger dove into a pocket that hung from her belt, and came out covered in a red powder. With it, she traced a symbol, some sort of glyph, upon the frame.
"Voila," she said, in what I recognized as French, a language I could barely speak. "Venez avec moi, s'il vous plait."
She wanted me to follow her. And so I took her hand when she offered it. Then she ran, pulling me quite aggressively, through the portal.
Bewildered, I landed behind her in an alleyway, beside buildings of elegantly old architecture. And as she led me quickly from the secluded alley, I found myself standing in a town that seemed downright Amish. There wasn't a car in sight.
"Where are we?" I asked, as she dragged me through a crowd of people.
She blinked, uncomprehendingly. "Parle tu français?" Do you speak French?
"Un petit peu," I told her. A little bit. And then, I realized why I saw no cars, no streetlights and no clothes similar to my own. "En quelle année sommes nous?" What year are we in?
"Trois-mille cinq-cent soixante-six après Jésus-Christe."
If I was not mistaken, she just told me that... I was fifteen-hundred and fifty-seven years in the future. That was not the answer I had been expecting at all.
I gaped. "Vraiment, la future!?" Really, the future!?
"Oui, vraiment." Yes, really.
For some odd reason, I believed her.
And I had a feeling that this wasn't a historical heritage site. These people seemed to have actually reverted to a culture not unlike that of their past.