I wasn't dead.
I wasn't dreaming.
I was panicking.
My body, lifeless yet living, lay on the earth next to a smoldering campfire. I stood a few feet away, arms crossed over chest, kicking at the dirt with very real, very cold feet. Anxious, I searched for a solution, an explanation.
There wasn’t one.
Two of me existed: one asleep and one awake. My awake body was shivering, and I rubbed my arms and legs in an attempt to stay warm. My sleeping self, dressed for a winter camping trip, was also wrapped in a down sleeping bag.
I wanted to steal his clothes, leave him naked in the bag, but I could not bring myself to disrespect myself in such a way. So I sat next to the remains of the fire and poked the glowing embers with a stick, hoping to glean some warmth from the ash.
I wasn't alone. Another figure lay huddled near the fire, chest rising and falling in deep breaths. Mac. My little brother and I were on a camping trip, nothing out of the ordinary.
This situation was out of the ordinary.
My fingertips were going numb, and stuffing my hands into the fire was not an option. I debated slipping into the sleeping bag with myself. Having my nude body so close to another man, even myself, made me grimace.
My only option was to strip the bag from my sleeping self. Unzipping the sleeping bag, I rolled my still body off of the cloth and onto the cold, damp earth. And that is when I noticed something different.
There was something connecting my sleeping self to the ground. Snaking out of the base of my neck, a sort of vine connected my body to the earth. The vine was a few inches long and made of some sort of fleshy material, much like an umbilical cord.
Wrinkling my nose in disgust, I searched for the origin of the cord and found that it melded into the skin of my neck. As it extended out from my body, the material grew thicker and darker, taking on the consistency of moss. The other end blended into the earth.
Without much thought, I wrapped my hand around the cord and pulled.
. . .
My body jerked awake, and a sharp pain radiated from the base of my skull. Sitting up, I rubbed the sore spot and glanced around. Nothing was out of the ordinary; there was only one of me: awake.
I began to wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing after all. But in the moonlight, I could see something scattered on my sleeping bag and piled on the ground.