One Picture, One Story
Sam colapsed, his lungs yerning for more oxygen than he could bring in. He felt the soft embrace of the fallen leaves that blanketed the forest floor. He clenched his eye lids shut while his cells cried out for oxygenated blood. His chest rose and fell at a reckless rate and the trees towered above, with their wise gaze set upon his crumpled body. As his lungs caught up and his eyes slowly opened he felt the pain and tasted the blood pouring from his lacerated tongue. He grimiced a little as he propped himself up in a seated position and assessed his situation. Directly ahead was a surprisingly wide river, slowly winding its way into the distance. The river was bordered by towering trees, looking even more intimidating with the rising sun behind them. They seemed to sway together slowly as if conversing with each other. Sam pulled himself to his feet using a low lying branch and stood deathly still, trying to listen for any sound of movement that could be those demonlike rabbit-creatures. Nothing. Not even the sound of rustling leaves; even the slow moving river made no noise. He clapped quietly, suddenly scared he had some how lost his hearing. The sound echoed through the forest, but still no other sound vibrated the morning air. He clapped louder and let out a small giggle, realizing the absurdity of his actions. Reassured that he was alone, Sam walked to the bank of the river to see where it led. What he considered east, because the sun was rising in that direction, was nothing but trees and river as far as the horizon. The golden sun reflected of the glass-smooth waters and danced off the slowly shifting leaves. He followed the golden rays to the west and spotted what looked to be a field and a small whisp of smoke rising from behind the trees. He assumed that it was the school he had seen when they brought him over and thought that if he could get there he could get some answers. He wasn’t basing this on any information he had been given or any really well thought out rationelle, he just recognized it in a world that he did not recognize anything else.
Sam lowered himself down the bank and began his trek along the river and towards the school, stopping every few steps to listen for the man or those demon-creatures. Step after unsure step he slowly made it closer and closer to his destination and was becoming more and more aprehensive about his decision. “I’m going to walk into an ambush; I know it!” Sam was muttering to himself as he stepped from slippery stone to slippery stone. *SPLASH!* He stopped. He was frozen with fear as he listened for the sound again. Nothing. He covered his mouth to surpress the sound of his breathing. Nothing. He mustered up the courage to move his heada little to get a better look behind him. He saw the ripples radiating out from it’s epicenter only a few feet back. He noticed movement under the water and strained in the morning light to see what it was. It was coming towards him, casually moving side to side as it approached. The relaxed movement put Sam at ease and he turned to face the creature head on. As it reached the shore it stood up straight like a man, but looked more like a rat or otter or maybe something in between. Like the other creatures of this world it had the eyes of a human and they seemed to peer into his soul. “Funny place to go for a hike.” The Otter-Rat-Man thing stepped onto the rocky bank as he spoke. The smooth movement of the creature surprised Sam and he felt a little ashamed of his awkward, uncertain steps he had been taking.
“Well, it’s been an interesting morning.” Sam was suddenly well aware of the blood still pooling in his mouth and slowly dripping off his chin. “Yes…very interesting.”
The creature moved swiftly towards him, invading every inch of personal space he could. He pried open Sam’s mouth and looked closely at the marks in his tongue. He muttered to himself and backed off to a more respectable distance. “So it is true. They have returned.” He climbed to the top of the bank and scanned the forest to make sure they were alone. “Make your way to the school; they are here for the children.” He slid back into the river, leaving no more than a small ripple as evidence of ever being there.
Sam stared in the direction the creature had gone, playing the words over and over in his mind. “they are here for the children.” The sun was much higher now and he turned and continued his hike towards the school, filled with a new confidence and purpose.