I opened my eyes, seeing the blue sky.
Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I on the ground?
I slowly got up, my knees shaking with the effort. I observed my surroundings; a snowy forest, filled with redwood and pine trees, an odd mix. I felt small compared to how tall the trees were. Lush grass, some dead and the rest green and bright, blanketed with little snow. Ethereal singing echoed in the distance and innocent animals ran around.
There was nothing else I felt like doing, so I started walking.
After the first step, the snow crunched under my feet, making me glance down. The radiant sun suffused my face, a warm sensation forcing me to screen my eyes.
It felt pleasant, but I still didn’t know what was going on. An odd snowy forest appeared right in front of me as soon as I awakened.
My foot instantly caught onto something, causing me to lose my balance. Peering down, I noticed I almost tripped over a stick. No, not a stick but rather a long, thin staff with a hazardous blade on one end, kind of like a spear. It was something I could use as a weapon, something to defend myself.
Birds chirped, trees swayed, a cold breeze shifted my hair. I shivered, already feeling the snow that fell on top of me. Around, there were only flowering plants and the extensive forest ahead, still alive and covered with sparkling snow. Magnificent trees with fall coloured leaves circled me, making me feel small compared to how tall they were. Most trees, though, had dead leaves or none at all.
The green grass scattered around, showing very little dirt and snow. Clouds covered the luminous cerulean sky, sprinkling snow everywhere.
I sighed, cold mist coming out of my mouth, “What? Am I dreaming?” I gently rubbed my eyes. I closed and opened them, only to see the same snowy forest before me. It seemed too genuine.
I produced questions in which I attempted to answer. What’s my name? Ethan, check. Gender? Boy, check. What the hell’s going on?
That was a question in which I didn’t recall the answer. I got a hold of myself. I couldn’t freak out. I needed to assess this as an adult.
Wait, how old am I? I’m 17, okay, that’s good. I only comprehended a few things. I’m a 17-year-old boy named Ethan. That promised a start.
“What is this place?” I asked himself out loud. It was a forest full of snow. Stupid question. But where was this forest, that was the question?
How did I get here? Why?
What was the purpose?
I started walking again for a while and came across a pond. Water, rippling and clear filled the massive pond. Most of it was surprisingly unfrosted over. Walking closer towards it, I saw a few fish swimming in the pond.
Looking down and the edge of the transparent water, I took notice of my pale face. I was Caucasian and possessed short raven hair with green eyes. Dirt streaked my face and melting snow caked my rumpled clothing. I looked like a hunter. A winter hunter.
A hunter that hunted in the winter.
I touched my face in resemblance to see I looked terrified.
What is going on here?
I didn’t remember anything, or that’s what it seemed.
Who was I before this? Why and how did I get here?
It seemed very peaceful, but I didn’t feel that way. The wind grew more aggressive as the leaves and trees rustled. The wind breezed cold air in my face, practically making me freeze. My senses heightened.
Then, he heard it.
Footsteps, crunched snow. My right. Left. Behind. I looked around to see who or what was there, but I didn’t have any luck. Just a blur, a line of black ran past the trees. As my only instinct, I ran. My breath started coming out in puffs, and I started to breathe harder. My limbs felt numb and frozen.
I searched around, expecting anyone, anything.
Wait, my staff.
I just realized I forgot about it.
I can’t leave it there! It’s the only protection I have!
Skidding to a stop, snow flew everywhere. The sound came back, “Wh-who’s there?” I knew deep down, calling out would get me killed in pretty nasty ways. The sky grew dull, scaring me even more.
I ran towards my staff, running in the other direction.
I’m not dying ... not today.
I sprinted while tripping over various roots and leaves that stuck out of the snow. Leaving everything behind me, I ran as nothing else mattered. I maneuvered past the trees and plants, tripping and stumbling over multiple things. Shuffling through the snow, it flung in my face.
I didn’t stop; I avoided whatever that thing was back there and ran towards my only protection. Running without it now scared me as I didn’t know how to fight. Everything seemed to fade to black until…
Eventually, I ended up on the sight of where I woke up. Sighing in relief, I picked up the staff, gently brushing off the dirt and snow from the handle. I panted and recovered my breath as I examined the forest. A glint from the sun caught on the blade and I squinted.
The handle maintained a grip, fitting my fingers. I wrapped my fingers around it, looking at all sides. The cold metal stung the tip of my fingers as my gloves covered the rest of his hand. Olive-green stripes ran along the black staff. Why did I have a staff? An unusual thing to wake up with.
I then observed something on my wrist and moved my sleeve.
It was a triangle with odd lines. The numbers 0803.0059 had been placed under it.
What unusual numbers, I had no clue what they meant. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, looking at the suspicious design and numbers.
“Wha-” Before I could say anything, the strange sound came back more distinctly. I instantly shifted my head to uncover the source of it, forgetting all about the tattoo. The water from the snow had dripped onto my clothes. I ran in the opposite direction, breathing heavily.
I didn’t end up anywhere. I ended up in the place I started. Wait, did I? The forest seemed the same to me. No buildings, people, reason.
Wait, where are my family, friends? I must have a family. I’m here right?
I dropped to the ground, tears filling my eyes. I veiled my face, shoving the leftover snow into my eyes.
“What the hell’s going on? Where am I?” Tears started to swell up, but I held them back. I placed my hands up to my face to catch the tears. Not crying yet. I can’t cry, shouldn’t cry. I got back up, standing my ground.
I’m not giving up, not today.
After walking for only a few minutes, my body neared the point of shutting down. Gathering a shuddered deep breath, I clenched my fists. I started getting weary, dizzy. Coldness surrounded me. I felt strange suddenly. My body felt weak so I stopped, almost toppling in the snow.
I gripped my staff. It seemed so surreal, no key reason, no people. I was having this mix of complex emotions which I’ve never felt before.
The wind howled and raged. It caused me to almost lose my balance. Snow crunched. I whirled around to see where that sound was coming from. My breathing jagged. My fear rose. My peripheral vision closed in on every slight thing in sight. I shuffled and turned. My heart beat more soundly and I felt dreary.
I dropped my staff and fell in the snow.
Everything faded to black.