Chapter 1:


A Place between There and Now [Western Cover]

The last thing I remember was hearing a scream, it was my scream to be exact, but I don’t remember screaming.

I opened my eyes; the air was filled with a dense black fog. I was lying in the middle of a crater on wet moss, the sky painted black by heavy clouds. There it was again, that same scream so familiar but still so distant. I don’t remember if my brain just played a trick on me or if I actually screamed but I stood up anyways and proceeded to check my surroundings.

While I was wandering through a thick forest which surrounded the creator I woke up in, I could see a few hills slowly growing taller and taller until they became a part of the mountains I saw somewhere in the distance. The water of a river flowing nearby was still vaguely hearable and my thirst made me investigate that strange place I found myself in. Although I’d never been here before it felt familiar like a memory buried under an ocean full of thoughts. The thick moss I was lying on when I woke up stretched along with the soil that filled the woods. My brain probably just messed with me again due to dehydration, but it felt like I was being watched.

I started walking past some trees and through tall grass that blocked my view while the sounds of the river were getting louder and louder with every step I took. I was getting closer, I could hear it, only a bit more I thought and there it was. As the forest opened up it gave away the view over a small meadow which stretched along with the river flowing downhill. I saw that it was coming from somewhere above near the mountains I saw earlier. I stepped closer to it, driven by thirst, and drank. The water was clear and so cold It felt like it was freezing my throat but that didn’t matter to me, i was so thirsty and swallowed the pain literally. When I was done, I got back up now shivering from the cold fog. I chose to walk further through the forest, hoping to maybe be able to find some berries or anything else that I could eat to alleviate my hunger.

As I started my hunt for food, the fog finally cleared, and I could see the sun again after what felt like decades. It gave me hope and for the first time since I woke up, I smiled. As I walked further through this sprawling green maze, I caught a glimpse of some structures somewhere in the distance. They seemed to be towers or temples of sorts but I couldn't make out more than their shape. I decided to walk along a cliffside for better orientation and to not get lost in the forest. This way I would always be able to find my way back to that river if I didn’t find any other source of water. After two or three hours of straight walking, I heard the familiar sound of water flowing somewhere near again and followed it. Soon I discovered a small lake in the middle of a glade.

I stopped for a bit and laid down next to it. I noticed that a small river which seemed to be the lake's primary water source was flowing down directly from the cliff I had been walking along the whole time. My eyes slowly closed as my mind drifted off to the land of dreams. When I woke up it felt like aeons had passed and I quickly got back up, the sun was already going down. I thought about trying to sleep but was reminded by my stomach that I was searching for food.

I walked around the lake and found that the same river that flowed into it also flowed deeper down the valley into a way thicker part of the forest. I decided to follow it for a bit hoping to maybe find something that only grew near the flowing water. Soon I found what I was looking for, some mushrooms, though at a second glance It seemed like a bad idea to eat them. I picked them up regardless and walked back up to the lake. The leafy roof of the forest was so dense, that it was only letting small rays of light through and so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see a thing in these parts of the forest when the sun vanished behind the mountains.

At that moment I had a mind-bending revelation, I could scream for help, just maybe someone would hear me I thought and so I did. And yes, I was right, someone did hear me, but help wasn’t what I received. There it was again that feeling of being watched, I felt a sigh of relief, finally someone I could talk to, someone that could help me. I became careless and walked around searching for whoever found me. But who, no, whatever had heard me wasn’t going to help me.

And again, there it was, that scream but this time it was different, I screamed, I screamed a gut-busting scream like I never had before. That pain clouded my senses. I shed tears. I looked down, blood was dripping from my left shoulder. I heard something behind me, the sound of the grass being pushed aside and footsteps that were coming closer. Besides that, the only things I could hear were my sobbing in pain and my racing heart. I never felt such indescribable pain, such fear, such stress before. I ran, I ran as fast as I could, just run I thought, adrenalin-filled every inch of my body. I tripped over a root but that wasn’t going to stop me, I quickly got back up. My scream filled the air once more. A knife was stuck inside my right leg, I walked two more meters and fell over. Again, I heard the footsteps of whatever was attacking, no, hunting me. I saw something move in the tall grass just a few meters in front of me as It stopped and took my knife, which I carried with me in my jacket's right pocket.

I could only watch in pain as it pulled another knife out of my left shoulder and a third out of my leg. They all were the same, three identical pocket knives. It slowly pulled me up after it packed the two other knives away and held mine directly to my throat. It said one last thing while smiling the most sadistic smile I had ever seen “don't worry, next time will be more fun”.

- booting #002

- repeat