Michael came to in a muddy crater. He heard the muffled sound of his own breathing and realized that water had entered his helmet and was up to his ears in depth. He sat up with a sucking sound as air rushed into the cavity he'd made with his body. Fingering the lever on his neck, he unlatched the seal and pulled off his helmet. Dark brown water rushed out of it.
Looking around, Michael could see nothing but the walls of the crater and the blue sky above. He got up, and painfully remembered the state of his body. The climb up the crater's side was both exhausting and agonizing. Finally, he reached the lip and rolled over it onto flat ground.
When he opened his eyes, he saw tall golden shoots of grass rising up to the sky. His mind numb, and his body aching, he closed his eyes to rest for a moment, and immediately fell asleep.
Michael woke himself from shivering in the cold. He realized that if he stayed wet, he would become hypothermic and die. He got up and peered over the tall grass in the dusk twilight. In one direction there were hills, and in the other, a dense forest. He chose the forest, as it would be easier for him to build shelter there.
Making his way through the grass did not take long, and he soon found himself at the treeline. He began immediately collecting wood and piling it near a fallen tree. There he made a lean-to, and with what wood he had left over, he prepared to build a fire.
He searched his pockets for anything that would help him create flame, but nothing was present. With that ascertained, there was only one course of action. Two sticks were used to create an ember which he placed in dry moss and kindling. He blew in the smoldering debris to feed the flame, and then set it onto the kindling of his fire. With a bit of care and encouragement, the flame eventually took. Using the lazy log system, Michael dragged a fallen tree and stuck one end into the flames. He then collected pine boughs in the darkness before returning to his camp to use them as a mattress.
Every few hours the cold would wake him, and Michael would push the log further into the embers, where it would ignite once more. This continued all night long, until one of his waking moments came as the sun's pink light shone, telling him it was just below the horizon.
If he wanted to survive, Michael's next course of action would be to find water. With dawn upon him, he broke camp with the hum of the mosquitoes that engulfed him and began his search. He looked at the land and tried to envision the contours of the area, searching for low ground where water would accumulate into small creeks. Soon, he found such a creek, and followed it southward until it joined with another, and that one too joined with another.
It was nearing noon when Michael finally reached a body of water large enough for him to use. After drinking, he began the same process he had undertaken the night before, this time with far more time and daylight at his disposal.
When dusk came, Michael already had a fire going for a few hours and was ready for the onslaught of the mosquitoes that would come in force when the temperature cooled. At least this time he would brave them with food in his stomach, for there were frogs in the area, whose legs he'd helped himself to.
With time to think, Michael wondered what had happened. He remembered the spherical chamber, He remembered Doctor Dan Smalldridge and his Horizon project. He remembered the Colonel, and most of all, he remembered the name Cassandra.
The question was: How did he go from being inside an air force base, to sitting in a forested landscape eating frogs legs by a campfire?