Foresta: A Short Story
The brisk air hit Luther like a brick wall as the dawn ascended. He could not remember where he went or what had happened the day before. All he knew at that moment was the forest looked beautiful to him. He was filled with admiration like a creature in a new habitat as he observed the trees and mountains. The thought of what he was doing there had slipped his mind. He sat there, amazed by the landscape in front of him. After a few moments he stood up and dusted himself off. He glanced around him, but no trace of a route to where he came from was seen. He started to feel overcome by the elements
Thinking back to the most recent memory in his life, Luther could only regain a few days prior. He was with his friends at a local bar, talking about the rough day he had been through. He didn’t know how many days ago it was, but at the time it was a Friday. He recalled the conversation he had with the waitress of working for the weekend and never looking back. He was hoping his words had not come true. He enjoyed the life of a young man, traveling and meeting new people, but where he currently dwelled was unlike one of the places he’d like to go. He read many news articles about hikers who would disappear for weeks, getting lost in the outdoors and then return home like nothing happened. That was not the kind of person Luther was.
It was becoming more frustrating to him. All of the past few hours even days were nothing but a blank state. He was wearing his formal clothing with no sign of filth other than the dirt he was sitting on. He couldn’t have been out in the wilderness for more than a day. But the recent events leading up to him were lost like a distant memory. It was not like Luther to forget things so easy, he would always brag about his acute memory. He pondered what could have caused him to forget. The fact that he was missing something so simple in his mind that usually came to him with ease was vexing.
The morning was truly cold and damp. He had not realized how much it was effecting his clarity. He started to suppress the panic that had come over him. Positive thoughts were all he could try to think of. The time or place still remained a mystery to him. The thought of his friends were the only positive he could bring to the surface of his concentration. Before he could readjust to the light of the warm sun in front of him getting clearer, Luther was hit by a dark object. The blow pushed him off the hill he was sitting on for the night. It happened so fast that he could only recall a fast movement that struck him, and then he was face down at the bottom of the hill. Terror raided his entire body as he regained his stance. Luther looked up to where he was standing before the entity hit him.
He was baffled by what he had witnessed. He could swear there was something up there. The logic of his mind began to play tricks on him, he tried to push aside the idea he was losing his mind. He could not recall how he got into the forest or why some being had thrown him from a steep cliff. He was just glad that he had not sustained a serious injury. Feeling precarious Luther limped toward the direction of what he thought was north. Although not being an expert on nature, he could remember that someone told him the sun always rose at dawn in the east. As he helplessly walked on a worn path, he would look over his shoulder checking to see if something was following him. He could only think of getting back to his family. He kept reminding himself to think positive.
Think of your family Luther. You have to get back to them.
The past few years were full of remorse. He had not seen or spoken to his relatives in some time. Even with many chances he somehow chose not to see them. His busy life working in real estate had him fool his own mind into thinking there was no time for anything but work. Not even as much as a phone call would be returned. Messages were left still clinging to the hope he would one day return the call, but Luther never did. That changed the week before when he got a message from his mother he never imagined. His father fell ill and was taken to the hospital. Before Luther could get to his side, his father passed away. It was in that moment that he knew the path his life was going on was taking him the wrong way. After a long talk with his family and apologizing for not staying in contact, he returned home. He couldn’t bear the thought of letting his father down. The last conversation he even had with him could not be recalled. He felt cold, degraded and fatigued as he sat in his home. He thought about how he should’ve been there for his family much earlier. Now the taste of a nice cold beer came to his attention. The local bar by his apartment was the only place open nearby that could resolve his longing.
Now his thoughts were turning to negative. The regret of going out that night consumed him. It was the last strand of thought he could recollect before being stranded out in the wilderness. No evidence could be found of how he even got there. No suggestion of any sort could be uncovered as to his existence among the wild. Not only was that the main problem but now there was something following him.
A dark object ran behind him with such quickness that he nearly missed it. Luther spun to see nothing. He was growing tired of the life form tormenting him. To his left, the shadow raced by just as fast, then in front of him. He stopped on the muddy trail and searched for any nearby object he could use as a weapon. He could only find a half broken branch that was old and crusted, nothing of any use. The quiet morning made Luther feel uneasy, he was not liking the game that was being played. He realized it was merely baiting him to make a mistake. The injury to his foot made escape impossible, but he was ready for whatever was about to face him.
Nobody could be seen as Luther continued to spin and look around him. It was as if it had disappeared. The cool breeze and pleasant birds singing were all Luther could hear. Without hesitating he raced down the trail toward his original direction he was heading. Before he could reach the bottom of the trail, he was once again struck but in this instance it was much harder than the first time. Luther tumbled down the dirty path hitting dead tree limbs and jagged rocks along the way. He figured he had broken a rib or two. Still, he ignored the tremendous pain he was experiencing and stood up. There behind him no more than twenty feet away stood the creature.
It had the face of a bull but walked on two legs. It was a muscular beast that had eyes like a burning fire. Luther had to look up at the brute standing at least ten feet tall. It stared him down with a dark grin. Luther was still in shock from the fall, and seemed to not understand what he was seeing. He froze trying not to make any sudden movement that would upset the animal. It began to walk around Luther in a circle, examining him with a graceful yet strong pose. Luther still remained motionless. His breathing was becoming harder to achieve by every passing moment. The pain from the fall was nonexistent however from his adrenaline. It was the only thing keeping him from passing out. He was waiting for the beast to attack him at any second, but instead it started to laugh at him.
It reminded him of an evil laugh his uncle Richard would display on occasion. His family would visit his uncle while Luther was still a young boy but only due to his aunt who at the time was deathly ill. The family never did take a liking to Richard. He was a greedy, devious man who continued to take advantage of his wife’s family. When he would be confronted by the family about his cunning ways, he would merely laugh for even bringing up the thought of his dishonesty. It was a guffaw that contained such arrogance and vice that it always made Luther cringe. That laugh was what he was hearing now.
Before he could blink, the monster charged and knocked him over. He was helpless and had no defense against the creature. It stood like a tower over him, only presenting a fraction of his strength. The blow had made Luther lose his sight momentarily. But with the strength left in him, Luther hit the creature in the face with both of his fists. Thrown back by the punch, it looked at Luther with a peculiar expression. A stronger more ear piercing laugh was belted out. It saw how weak Luther truly was, and took to it as entertainment. It picked up Luther and held him close. He could see the burning embers in its eyes. Luther was paralyzed with fear and could only succumb to the beast’s grip. It walked over to a nearby cliff chuckling as it did and hurled Luther over. At that moment he felt like everything was in slow motion. The fall was going to be the end of him, yet it felt like he would never reach the ground. The rush hit him with such force he started to see nothing while still falling. Within seconds he had completely blacked out.
The forest had been brought to silence. It wasn’t a noticeable event, but not even the slightest sound could be heard. After a short time Luther came to. He wasn’t in the forest anymore. He felt the pain from the fall all over. When his vision became clear he realized he was being treated for his injuries by two medics. He was in the back of an ambulance heading toward what looked to be a hospital. He was so exhausted that he could hardly move or react . He started to think that maybe he was dreaming, maybe all that had happened was simply a figment of his imagination. He turned to the main medic and asked him what was troubling him for what seemed like an eternity.
“Where am I?”
“You were found in a secluded area in a national park,” the man replied. “Amazing that someone found you. Group of hikers came across you about two hours ago. You were passed out and severely dehydrated. They said they were exploring off the path when they saw you. Who knows if you would’ve been found if not for them.”
Luther let out a sigh of relief but turned back to the medic and continued questioning him. “I was alone? No one else was with me?”
“No you were alone. Looks as though you took a bad spill, no serious injuries though.”
“I saw something out there,” Luther said with a frightened tone. “Are you sure there was nothing else?”
“You need your rest. Due to the injuries you sustained it’s possible it may have caused you to see things. Just relax, we are almost to the hospital. You’re going to be alright now.”
Luther took the words to heart and closed his eyes. He was still shocked at what he had experienced. He was probably right, his own imagination had led him to believe something crazy, unthinkable to be real had occurred. He opened his eyes and saw the medics turning to the driver, talking in low voices. Something was odd, he knew something was now not so right. Along the wall was a different kind of writing in a language he’d never seen before. Then he saw what he had overlooked somehow the whole time he was awake. He was strapped down in the bed and couldn’t move. He remained as calm as he could, trying to believe it was some sort of mistake. He thought about his family, and launched doubt in his mind.
Will I ever see my family again? How could I possibly get out of this?
Where they were heading was not a hospital he had known to be, but a different kind. He could tell from the men they were not medics but ones who worked at a psychiatric hospital. He knew there was only one hope left. As real as it is all seemed, and how much he tried to resist to come to a precise awakening, there was only one potential way out.
He could only count on it all being a dream.