Red was the first thing Josh saw. It was a deep, faded red light that seemed to distantly shine in a sea of black. At first he thought he might just be staring into space, or possibly even a deep ocean floor. As the light grew more intense, it changed to a lighter red, then orange, then almost completely yellow. Josh finally realized he was seeing a bright light through his still closed eyelids.
He opened his eyes and regretted it for an instant. A bright beam of the sun all but blinded him. He recoiled, groaning as he tried desperately to shield his eyes with his hand. As his sight finally adjusted, he saw the source of his problem was a recently risen sun that was peeking through a window.
A window? Josh thought to himself, surprised. He looked around, noting that it appeared he was lying on a bed in a small bedroom. The room was rather plain, all things considered. It housed the bed he was laying on- itself housing a heavy quilted sheet pulled over him and a small pillow under his head- along with a couple of picture frames that he couldn’t make out, a bed stand to his left with an already burned candle on it, a plain wooden door on the far side of the room with a chest of drawers adjacent to it, and the window that the midmorning sun was showing through.
Suddenly, prior events flooded back into Josh’s mind. The swamp, the portal, the stranger- all of it hit him like a freight train. The more terrifying realization, however, was that he had no idea where this room was, or how he had gotten here.
He slowly started to attempt to raise himself off of the bed, instantly being scolded by a lash of pain along his left side. He let a small pained grunt escape, halting his movement for a moment. He then noticed his t shirt had been removed and replaced with heavy bandages compressing his ribs.
What the hell? Josh thought to himself. How did I get bandaged up?
His second attempt to rise met more success, pushing beyond the anguish in his torso. Josh swung his feet down off the bed and slowly got to his feet. He felt very sore, his legs weakly holding underneath him. Getting a better view of the room, he made another realization. His pack and hat were nowhere to be seen and his pistol was no longer on his belt.
Desperate to figure out what was going on, Josh slowly started to stagger towards the door. His legs and chest still ached with each step from the fall. His head felt light, and his stomach was starting to protest in hunger.
As he pushed the door open, he was met with the sight of a hallway, with three identical doors- one in front of him and two on his right. A walkway to his left housed a staircase that seemed like it would lead him to more answers. He limped to the top of the staircase and descended, nearly falling once after missing a step.
The room the stairs had led to was the same foyer that the walkway overlooked. Its walls were coated in a simple wallpaper that had also lined the hallway and bedroom he had woken up in. The entire house had a dusty, old scent to it that lingered. It was not necessarily a foul smell, but it was a strangely musky one. Josh again saw daylight as it filtered through two windows on the wall that were symmetrically split by another wooden door. His curiosity got the better of him, more interested in getting his bearings than finding food in spite of his stomach’s grumbling, as he opened the door.