Ch. 1: Dark pain
I felt my body twitch and slowly pull me out of a numbing sleep. The air was cold and moist around me, and suddenly filled my lungs with what felt like blistering ice crystals, that spread from my ribcage and out to my extremities. A few violent gasps for air, yanked me out of my last dreaming thoughts, and into a more conscious state. But was I really awake?
I winced in pain as I propped myself up on my elbows. Besides from the darkness making my pupils so largely dilated that it hurt, my head felt like my cranium had cracked right open. And I brought my hand up to let my fingers examine my skull. A few leaves were entangled with my hair, and while I removed them, I felt something sticky against my fingertips. I tried to bring my hand in front of my eyes to see the color of it, but I couldn't tell. The only thing I knew, was how it made my hair form into a cold, syrupy knot, with what appeared to be old, coagulated blood. That, and the thundering pain told me that I had some sort of head injury.
Another tremble of coldness made me curl my legs up towards my chest, and I wrapped both my arms around them, noticing that besides from being awfully sore and stiff, they worked normally. That had to be something, right? I rocked a little bit back and forth, and mentally went through body part by body part, while I squinted out into my black surroundings. And after a quick appraisal, I knew that my shoulder hurt and my ankle was slightly swollen, but nothing seemed to be broken.
My hand went up to the back of my head again, and I felt the contours of the wound. It was a flare that made my skin stand out in a little lump, and I was pretty positive that it should be stitched. And I groaned in pain when my nail accidentally hitched in my hair at the edge of it, while my eyes helplessly darted from nothing to nothing. If I only could see what was around me...! I had never really been scared of the dark, but right now, I wasn't so sure about that after all.
"Hello?" I called, with a thin voice that cracked and broke, halfway. So I cleared my voice and tried again.
Nothing. Only the silent breeze from the wind that was combing through the treetops, was audible for my ears, and I felt the loneliness crawl around me like a snarling beast. But to avoid letting myself get overpowered by fear, I slowly got up on my feet, and a few unsteady steps before I found my balance. I brushed off my jeans, and felt the dampness on the fabric on my behind, cool against my skin, after lying on the ground.
Why was I here?
I took a couple of steps forward, stretching my hands out in front of me, to keep myself from crashing into things, and I immediately panicked when I felt the silky threads of a large cobweb wrapping itself around my face. And I screamed when I felt something at the size of a little mouse, crawling on the side of my neck.
SPIDER! SHIT! OH, MY GOD! OH, MY GOD! A SPIDER!!!! GET! IT! OFF!!!
I stumbled around, frantically trying to brush off whatever it was. And because I was so terrified, I forgot to feel where I was going, and crashed into a sharp branch that pierced into my eyebrow so hard that I lost balance and fell backwards. But even though I hit my elbow on a stone, and the sudden warm sensation under my eyebrow told me that I was probably bleeding, I jolted back up, still focusing on getting that terrifying creature off me. And since I couldn't see, it took quite a lot of time until I felt sure enough that it was gone.
With my heartbeat pounding loudly in my ears, I quickly tried to get rid of the sticky cobweb that now covered my upper body, and I shuddered when I pulled pieces of what probably was dead, half digested insects out of my hair. And it didn't help that my imagination was running completely wild about what those pieces actually looked like.
A warm sticky drop of blood seeped through my eyelashes, and made me squeeze my eye shut to avoid getting blood in it. But it was too late. And even though I dried my eye, first with my hand, and then with the sleeve of my knitted cardigan, it started to burn when it got in contact with my eyeball.
That's what you get for freaking out over a bug, I scolded myself. But I knew I couldn't really help it. Because one thing was for certain, and that was, when it came to insectophobia, arachnophobia and every other phobia there is about disgusting creatures like that, I had them all in a delightful mixture, that blossomed wildly just at the thought of it. Lovely...
The forest gradually got a little more visible around me, as the weak half moon appeared from behind a cloud. But it only made things look even scarier, since thick trunks and awkwardly angled branches made everything look like a crowd of malshapen humans. And as if the wind were to have been knocked out of me, I sunk down on my knees, while a foreign howl of overwhelming anxiety filled the air around me, and ripped my mind apart.
I couldn't breathe, yet I cried my lonely heart out. And while I wrapped my arms around my knees again and let myself fall over to the side on the ground, my tears started rolling uncontrollably, and with an increasing amount, the more I let myself sink into my depth of horror. I started to hyperventilate, feeling how all of my muscles were flexed to the max, and I was shaking as if I had an epileptical seizure. I hadn't. I just felt more scared than I'd ever been before. This had to be a nightmare. There was no reason for me to suddenly be in a forest like this, especially without knowing why.
And, while all the most terrifying scenarios possible rushed through my head in a complete frenzy, I felt myself getting numb. Numbed by the panic and by the physical distress right in this moment, and numbed by the paralyzing helplessness that pulsated through my veins. Then, slowly, I drifted off into the empty catatonia I was before.
It was just a nightmare.