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Home, the place I want to be more than anything. The more I think of it, the less I remember. I do not know, no matter how much thought I commit to it, where I was before this place or what evil things cast me into this world. All my mind holds onto is the thought of my mother and my sister, Carol. Yet even they are beginning to fade. What happens when I no longer remember anything about my life? All that remains whole is my name, Jane. I don't quite remember what I look like. I went to the water and looked into it, but it was murky and dark and cast no reflection. I suppose such things don't matter in this world.

The bridge now a mile behind, I continued up the path. The path stretched straight and far off into the distance. The marshland shrank into two small rivers, one on each side of the path, running parallel to it. The murky water turned clear, though still I dared not go near it. The trees quit growing, and the land opened into a wide grassy plain. The plain seemed as if it went on for an eternity. I would not be surprised if it did. Compared to its length, the plain wasn't wide. That being said, the edges were still far, far away, and they dropped off and fell into darkness, much like the first plane.

The third plane, a plain, was not a nice place the way plains normally are. It lacked any sort of beauty, and no vegetation grew other than the grass. There was no sun to shine down upon it, yet it was eerily lit up as if by the sun. There was no sky, only black. A starless night.

As I walked, the two rivers slowly receded into creeks, then into streams, then disappeared altogether. The plain ahead was bare. I walked and walked, yet never seemed to move an inch. The path moved along quickly underfoot, but the horizon never drew nearer. I stepped onto the grass to be sure the path did not move on its own. It was still. I glanced over my shoulder to see how far I had come from the marshland, but it was not there. I am moving after all. Or the only thing that is not. At this rate, I'll reach the path's end in a thousand years.

Who would have guessed one of the planes was an actual plain? I couldn't help but laugh aloud at the thought, but quickly remembered my predicament. The third plane is the plain that never ends. It goes on into infinity.

I stopped for a rest and sat in the grass. If I am to be walking for an eternity, at the least I will be well rested. Though, for some odd reason, I had not grown tired since entering this world. Of course I can still feel pain, but I don't grow tired. Where is the fairness in that?

I ripped a handful of grass from the ground and tossed it into the air. It fell straight down. No wind either. I suppose it was bored of having nothing to blow but grass, and it left. Boredom took me as I nearly laid my head on the grass to rest, but Warbler's voice popped into my head.

"Do not sleep out in the open, for it is perilous in this place," his voice said. I remembered Them. Do not sleep or They will come. What if they come regardless if you're sleeping or not? Choosing not to stay and find out, I quickly jumped up and continued down the path. When I realized nothing was after me, I slowed my pace to a quick walk.

A slight sense of being watched came over me. I constantly looked over my shoulder to see if anything crept along, following me. Once or twice I caught a glimpse of something far off to my left near the edge of the plain. It was near the darkness. I dismissed it as a trick of my eyes, but I remained watchful to the left.

With an eye on my left, and occasionally one on the right, I started to count the seconds. The seconds turned to minutes, the minutes to hours. When I nearly reached the eight hour mark, my eye caught something near the darkness. This time it was on the right.

Paranoia crept over me like a spider creeping up my back. Its fangs sunk deep into my neck, sending me to my knees in a panic. Something is out there. My hands trembled. I had never been so afraid in my life. Its Them. It has to be Them.

Paranoia is like a seed. Once planted in your mind, it grows and grows, and if you are not strong enough to be rid of it, it can overwhelm you. This seed was planted and growing. My fear was getting the better of me. If I do not move now, They will come for sure. Still, I have not actually seen them, only shadowplay.

I slowly picked myself off the ground and back onto my feet. The fear drove me forward, not courage. Its quite possible they are one in the same. Whatever it was, it caused my pace to quicken. I constantly swung my head left and right in hopes that I would not catch sight of anything. Or to catch sight of something before it caught me.

I began counting again, this time out of nervousness. Once minute. Two minutes. Two hours. Three hours forty-eight minutes and seventeen seconds. Something grabbed  my foot. I was sent to the ground in a heap. I spun around to face my attacker. There was no one. I glanced toward my feet and saw a small stone jutting from the path, like a lone mountain towering over a plain. I let out a sigh of relief. A smile even came to my face. I stood up, gathered my nerves and walked.

By my estimate, I had been walking for at least a day. Two days since I arrived in the first plane. Most of my time has been spent walking. I don't imagine there will be any less of it in my immediate future.

My thoughts were cut off as I stumbled to the ground. I leapt to my feet to meet my attacker. No one was there. I looked down. There was another stone protruding from the path. I need to watch my step.

I calmed myself and kept walking. A throbbing pain awoke in my left hand. I made the mistake of using it to break my fall, and it was bleeding again. The cloth wrapped around the wound was dark red and caked with dry, and now fresh, blood. My hand was stained and sticky with it. When the cloth could hold no more, it dripped out and the hot crimson liquid ran down my fingers and onto the ground. The path was dotted with drops of red. I became lightheaded at the sight. I turned my mind to the path and forgot about the would. It'd stop bleeding soon.

With danger presumably ensuing on all sides, I created a patter. I looked left, then right, then left, then back, then down, and repeat. This way, all sides were covered and I wouldn't be caught unaware by any other rogue stones out to get me, or Them.

I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye, off to my right. I stopped and peered into the darkness. It was too difficult to see anything against the black backdrop. I reluctantly dismissed it, pickup up the pattern where I left off.

Left, back, down, left right, left, back, down, left. As I fell to the ground, I couldn't help but think the pattern failed. Miserably. I had a sneaking suspicion that if I turned I would see a stone jutting from the path. I did, and there it was, taunting me. Its body stuck out proudly knowing my foot was going to catch it. Something was at work here.

Three stones jutting from the path and I trip on all three? Two is a coincidence, three is just strange. Is the stone following me? As stupid as that sounds, I can't dismiss it as a possibility. Could the stones be the same stone? How so if the path is completely straight? I examined the path carefully to ensure it didn't slant slightly one way or the other. It did not.

This time, I kept my eyes on the path as I walked. After about ten minutes, I noticed small, dark red patches spotting the path. I bent down to get a closer look and realized it was blood. My blood. I am stuck in a loop. I ran as fast as I could until I came upon the rock. I've been walking the same path over and over. But how?

I ran and ran, passing the blood and the rock countless times. I am stuck. My hand was throbbing with pain. My anger and frustration rose by the second. Tears filled my eyes, angry disheartened tears. My tears fell to the ground, and so did I.

"Remember," I heard a voice say, " to go forward you must go backwards." Warbler's comment had sounded like nonsense at the time, yet now it seemed to make sense. Could it truly be that simple? After all, anything makes sense in this place, even when there's no sense I can make of it.

Without hesitation, I struggled to my feet, turned around, and walked. What's the worst that could happen? Perhaps I'll end up back at the second plane. Or even the first plane. I did enjoy it there, as much as a person can enjoy themselves here. Maybe even Warbler is back to his old self and I can get some more answers out of the bird.

I must be heading in the right direction, for there is no sign of the blood or that pesky rock. So far. Finally something goes my way.

I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. It seemed far off, but much closer than it had been before, like it had stepped out of the darkness and onto the plain. I quickened my pace. Something moved on my left side, closer still. I quickened to a jog. Movement on both sides. I did not turn to look, rather I ran as fast as I could. In the corners of my eyes, I saw two dark shapes moving in a straight line toward me.

It's Them. This time I am sure. It must be. I fought back the thoughts of Them. I did not want the thoughts, but my mind betrayed me. I was bombarded with images of being dragged away by many dark hands. They threw me into the dark void where I was greeted with evil faces that hissed and howled at me. I shook my head, attempting to rid it of the horrific nightmares, but they kept coming. So did They.

When all hope seemed to be lost, a large mountain rose up out of the horizon, as if out of nowhere. At the foot of the mountain, where the path met it, a large door waited. I drew closer and closer, and They came nearer and nearer. My heart was pounding and sweat dripped down my face and into my eyes. A thousand steps it seemed I took before coming within reach of the door handle. I hope it is open.

I slammed hard against it, not bothering to slow down. I immediately scrambled to open it, but I fumbled with the mechanism. The hair stood tall on the back of my neck. I could feel Them creeping up behind me. My mind again betrayed me with frightening images of Them swarming as I fumbled with the door. The feeling can only be described as the sensation you get when climbing out of the water, believing something will grab onto your leg and pull you back in.

I don't know how long I had been sitting on the other side of the door, but it felt like days. I figured it must have only been mere seconds when I heard something violently thud against the door. The sound brought me back to reality. Many softer thuds followed, as if something was knocking on the door. Then the thuds quit altogether.

The must not be able to enter this place. I hope. Whatever this place is. I turned to study my surroundings. The door brought me to a large cave, lit with unseen torches. Stalactites hung from the brown stony ceiling like a thousand rocky teeth ready to chomp down on me at any moment. A path disappeared around into a passage on the left side of the cave wall.

The fourth plane, or so I assumed. I am safe. My hands still trembled violently, but I did not let my small victory go unnoticed. I had beat Them for now. I started down the path, hoping the worst had past, but something inside me said it hadn't.
Chapter 3

Jane has been thrust into a strange world surrounded by darkness. Uncertain of how she got there, or how to get home, she sets out on a journey through the many planes that lay before her, guided only by the advice of an odd little bird named Warbler, and her own curiosity.

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Submitted on
January 14, 2013
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