Again, the brightness of the sun gave him a moment of pause. He shielded his eyes with his right hand, getting an eyeful of the surrounding landscape. The terrain was similar to the arid plain he had been dropped in, with sparse trees breaking the sea of dry grass. In the distance was the barely visible periphery of a forest, along with rolling foothills framing the woodland. A dirt road was just in front of the small porch he stood on. On the other side of the road, there was a shed, another unknown building, and a pen, presumably for animals.
Josh had seen enough westerns to know a small farm when he saw one, which meant the house he had come from had likely belonged to the farmer. Josh saw a small walking stick, laid against the wall by the door. He picked it up and tested it, leaning with his full weight against it. The stick didn’t break, barely wavering even with Josh pushing against it.
Perfect. That’ll work. Josh thought. He started walking with his stick towards the end of the porch. The tool had already alleviated the ache in his legs, and even the burning sting of his bruised ribs was lessened as the stick gave him support.
He kept limping, awkwardly striding in rhythm with the motion of the walking stick. As his feet left the wooden planks of the porch and met the dusty road, the warmth and light of the sun hit his face in full force. The dry, hot wind of the prairie blew gently as small trails of dust were picked up in the air current.
The sun made Josh feel slightly more vital, as though his own life force was solar powered. His mind started to clear up a little as he came to the decision of his first priority: find someone to explain where he was and how he got there.
As if on cue, a slight rhythmic thump was heard by Josh to his left. Looking to the source of the sound, he was startled with the sight of a man riding on a horse close towards him on the road. Josh tried to focus his eyes, but his efforts were met with a sudden headache followed by a slight blur in his vision.
Through his hazy sight, Josh could barely make out the figure of the man on a horse come within feet of him. It took a few moments for his reflexes to kick in as he reactively stumbled backward, losing his grip on the staff. The next thing Josh knew, the man had dismounted the horse and was holding Josh by his arm, keeping him vertical as they walked back inside. With the sun off of him, Josh’s vision began to filter back in. He saw the man’s mouth moving and realized he was saying something.
“-gotta stay with me, mate,” The stranger said in a gruff voice. Josh mumbled out sounds that were unrecognizable as language, attempting to communicate with the fuzzy silhouette of a man and feeling stinging pain in his dry throat from the attempt. All he could manage was a string of hoarse, nonsensical consonant sounds while shuffling his feet, barely keeping up with the man’s stride.