A Home

Author’s Note: Part 3 of my ongoing experiment in writing fiction; if you missed them, catch up with Part 1: A Test and Part 2: Exploration. As before, I welcome any feedback — positive or negative. I’m trying to learn the ropes here!

The water filtered through her fingers, a cool yet inviting sensation that sent a chill up her arm. She’d just been here, yet now the sunlight filled the sky again. Under its warm light, the landscape here was a stark contrast to the quiet mysteries of night. She remembered something like a painful jolt, and a flurry of activity that seemed to flash by in an instant. Where had the moons gone, and the shimmering blanket of stars?

Rising, she stretched her limbs; they felt like they’d stiffened in the lapse between the last moment and this one. Now exposed to the light of day, she could more easily find a way through this foreign expanse. She still wished for something with which to scratch out a map for future use, but maybe she hadn’t yet scoured enough of this place for it to be needed yet. Another time, she thought. Another opportunity would come.

She ran her eyes across the horizon; the looming mountains in the distance were a deep purple hue, and the forest spread out behind her in its resplendent deep greens and browns. As she made her way up the banks of the small stream, she allowed her mind to wander as well. Somewhere here, she knew, she’d find a place that could be called her own. Not the claustrophobic chambers she’d grown accustomed to, but a real home.

Beneath the rippling water, small fish unlike any she’d known darted back and forth, their silvery skin hidden by the reflecting light that played across the surface. She traced their movements through the gentle waves with a sense of serenity and curious imagination. There was something dreamlike about the way that they flitted among the small rocks lining the bed.

Lost in her observations and wanderings, she nearly overlooked the jutting structures that dotted an area on the other side of the water. As they came into view, she felt the tinge of recollection; it was as if she was not discovering this place, but rediscovering somewhere she’d long since forgotten. She looked for a narrower bend in the stream’s path, and strode across it, the chill current nipping at her toes as she splashed through to the opposing bank.

Her strides lengthened and her pace increased as she drew nearer the crude wood-built curiosities before her. This was more than the wilderness; it was a sign of life, and the memory of a life she was meant to live. Somewhere amid these odd creations was something she knew, somewhere she belonged. She knew now, even more than when the feeling had first swept over her in the woods.

As she stepped onto the worn dirt that marked a pathway towards the collection of — what were they, huts? Houses? — she felt something beneath the growing sense of peace. Despite the welcoming aura of this place, there was something amiss. Some deeply unsettling thing, like a puzzle with a piece out of place or a soldier out of step with his regiment; her legs buckled and became useless beneath her. She collapsed, watching the trampled dirt race towards her as she fell, and her vision darkened as she threw her hands before her to brace for the impact.

They moved too slowly, and the cold, unforgiving steel floor rang out a sharp note as consciousness slipped away.

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