As the flames pierce my eyes, I hear the screams of the people. Looking above I see the dark shadow dart back and forth across the sky. He casts his shadow across the smoke-filled sky captured what little light we have left to see. My eyes sting as the smoke pierces them, and my chest aches inhaling the deadly fog. Everyone from the city rushes past me running from the flame as well as falling debris of our homes. However, I run back into the thick of the smoke. I know what the dragons after and I can’t let him die. He can’t die.
I awaken gasping for air. Clutching my chest, I sit up looking around my familiar room. Glancing at my phone the time reads five in the morning. It’s not been that uncommon for me to wake up this early from the same recurring nightmare. As I child always thought adults never had nightmares, but here I am, 21 years old stuck in the same nightly routine. My senior year of college wasn’t supposed to start off this way. It was supposed to be perfect. Dragging myself from the warm comfort of my bed I go to the bathroom and fill the sink with hot water. Looking up my short wavy hair is in tangles and half curled messes. Leaning in closer I frown at my tired eyes and fat round face that matches the rest of my short-slumped stature. Huffing I push back my overgrown bangs eyeing the circular baby pink colored birth mark residing in the center of my eyes and brows. As my finger brushes over it I feel the sharp pain and for an instant see the flames hitting the rooftops of the city. Gasping I jump back against my bathroom door banging it against the wall.
“Elena? You okay?” my roommate calls.
Taking in a calming breath I nod “Y-yeah, I’m fine.”
Looking back in the mirror I take a step forward. Watching my eyes, I clench my fist to stop my shaking hands and shoulders. Tears brim in my eyes only to fall as I exhale.
“Everything is fine.”
My arms wrap my coat tighter to my body. The leaves are almost beginning to change color. Fall is just around the corner and my heart smiles. The cool air and bright colors of red, orange, and yellow fill my mind. I know my mother has already decorated our house with pumpkin spice candles on the table and scarecrows on the front porch. Even now I can smell the sweet scent of our home and the warm mixture of my mother and sister’s cooking.
I jump as a hand tightly wraps around my mouth. I try to scream but its muffled and a voice whispers in my ear “Don’t make a sound.”
Tears brim in my eyes as my body stiffens and the hand tightens. My capture whispers again “They’re out there. They’ve found you. Their coming.”
As his hand uncovers my mouth I tremble “W-w-who…?”
“You must trust me. I’m not going to harm you, but you have to follow me if you want to survive.”
Taking my chance, I elbow my captor in the ribs doubling him over. Without even looking at him I take off running down the trail dropping my phone in the process. My legs go as fast as I command them. I don’t dare look back or slow down for a second. Getting back to campus or even to my apartment is my only chance of escape. My lungs burn from sharp intakes of air and beads of sweat break out on my forehead. Up ahead I can see the clearing and the black paved parking lot to the building where my classes are held.
“Just a little farther.” I think. “I’m almost there.”
Narrowing my eyes, I see five figures standing look at the building just in the tree line of the woods.
“Help! Help me, please!” I shout.
The closer I get to the figures the louder I shout, but as they turn my heart drops. The world seems to slow, and I dig my heels in the ground as my sights are set upon them. With a snarl they turn and look at me with their twisted monstrous faces and sharp protruding teeth. Wielding swords and maces they all face me and begin advancing towards me. Before I can turn on my heel, they race towards me with swords raising high above their heads.
Just before they are on me an arm tightly wraps around my shoulder pulling me close. My eyes are blinded as a bright glowing light erupts from the staff my savior extends. The creatures shriek falling back to the ground and I feel my hand taken up and I’m pulled along in the tree’s. I see the older man dressed head to toe in grey robes with a pointed hat and wooden staff.
“What are those things?! W-who are you?!” I stammer as I’m pulled along.
“No time to explain.” He snaps. “Their nearly on us.”
My eyes widen recognizing the voice of the man whom had grabbed me earlier on down the path. Following along beside him I hear rustling just behind is. Glancing back, I gasp seeing two of the monstrous creatures just feet behind us.
“Their coming!” I shout and they grey bearded man looks back seeing our pursuer’s. He grumbles and pulls me quickly to the left and we go sliding down a damp grassy hill. I groan rolling and hitting the ground at the bottom of the hill, but I’m lifted to my feet in no time.
“Quickly now!” the man commands “To the river!”
“The river?!” I stammer looking ahead. I see the deep waters and tug on his arm “We can’t go in! We’ll get pushed down stream.”
“No, we won’t.” he assures me the closer we get. As we race to the bank my eyes widen seeing the glowing blue whirlpool on the water’s surface. My heart beats wildly in my chest with every stride we take.
“When we get to the edge, jump. Understood?” he asks.
“I don’t think I can-…”
“Elena! You must jump!” he growls.
We are just on the edge and my eyes widen seeing the edge of the high cliff. “Jump!” the old man exclaims.
With every ounce of courage my feet leave the riverbank. My eyes squeeze shut, and I await the fall. Behind us I can hear the angered screech of the creatures whom barely miss snatching me up from the bank. Squeezing the man’s hand, I let out a scream feeling nothing but the air beneath us. We fall down, down, down, and down again. But then, the wind changes. We do not hit the water nor any rocks below its surface. In fact, were not falling down, were falling up.
Opening my eyes, I gasp as I see the glowing waters below us as were tossed into the air. For a moment we are suspended and the waters below still and the bright hue fades. The moment ceases and then the air fills my clothes again as we fall back down to the waters. Holding my breath, I once again await the cold waters, but am softly cushioned. Looking around I see a large tree like plant had extending its branches catching the older man and I. Turning it reaches out its branch to the land and we slide off looking back at the gentle giant. The man tips his hat and then the plant stills once more as if it were never alive.
Taking an uneasy step back I look to the old man and clench my shaking hands “What’s going on? Who are you, and where am I?”
He adjusts his robes and nods to me “I am Gandalf. Gandalf the Grey, and you, my dear girl, are now in the Shire of Middle Earth.”