Until that day, fear had been an idea, a concept. Now it was real: a feeling I would carry inside me for the rest of my life. The day began innocently enough, with a nice breakfast on the porch watching the rain fall over the land my family had owned. The smell of fresh rain drifted past me on the breeze bringing happy memories from my childhood. It wasn’t until I saw the shadow standing on the edge of the forest that everything would shift.
I waited until he walked further in and I let my legs carry me behind. I watched him intently with my gut screaming at me that this would be a bad idea. He seemed to glance back at me and gave a small nod. The next thing I knew he put his hand on the tree and seemed to be sucked in. I ran up to it and walked around the large trunk multiple times before I leaned on it as well.
The next thing I knew I was face down in the dirt with the sun beaming down on my back. It felt hotter than usual and something about the air seemed off. I looked up and found a barren field that stretched as far as I could see. Nothing was familiar. Nothing was real. The sky was purple. I filled with pure panic and went to touch the tree again trying to go back. It was gone. There was nothing there. Just more field.
I was alone in a different world? This couldn’t be real. I pinched myself. I almost gave myself a Charlie horse trying to wake myself up.
“Everything is real love.” I stilled and looked up from my probably bruised leg. The shadow man was so dark. His hair, his clothes, his eyes all looked black as night. He wasn’t real. He could tell me he was yet I didn’t know if I would ever believe him.
“It can’t be.” He smirked and a hand that moved as if in smoke brushed lightly across my cheek sending shivers straight down my spine.
“It is. If you aren’t ready I am going to need you to leave.” His whole body was mere centimeters from mine and he looked straight through me. “I’ll be back for you.” He gave me a shove and I was back on the forest floor looking up at the night sky.
“Where are you?” Flashlights went dancing back and forth between the trees and I was registering my cousin’s voices.
“Here.” It came out stronger than I thought. After a few minutes everyone was surrounding me asking a million questions that I couldn’t make out. “How long was I gone?”