I wake up to a smoldering heat that is burning the left side of my face. My head spindles and I feel nauseous as if I have been forced to eat. I am unable to make out my surroundings since the light of the sun has partially blinded me.
As my sight slowly begins to clear I notice the calmness, the dry air and the arid landscape that surrounds me. I am baffled by this strange situation and my mind begins to spindle trying to make sense. "What happened? How did I get here? Who did this? Am I dreaming?", I ask myself all of these questions as I look around to get a clue. I look for vehicle tracks or anything that might have been left over from my captors, but I find nothing. I know this sounds ridiculous about captors but what other way could I have gotten here?
The last memory I have is that I was falling asleep in bed, back at home in Warminster, England, and I know for a fact that in England we do not have huge desert landscapes like the one. My mind is going in circles trying to make sense of it as the anxiety rises.
"Who wouldn't be anxious about waking up in a completely different place when their last memory is of being at home?!" I say to myself.
I take deep breaths to try to calm myself and think of what my new steps are going to be but as I look to the brown and beige land, the cactus and dried bushes spread out for kilometers without end. I feel hopeless at the idea of getting out of this place. Even if I venture out to the desertic wilderness before me, I would not last two days as I do not have the supplies, the equipment nor the knowledge of the landscape and were to walk.
Hopelessness engulfs me but the harsh rays of the sun remind me that I can not stay here or it will claim my life and leave me for carrion for the wild animals who are patiently watching. I finally muster the strength and stand up, getting ready to start my walk but the question that now arises is where to walk to?
I look at my surroundings, all I see is the same landscape, until something unfamiliar for this area catches my eye. A white envelope that is pinned to the side of a cactus. I walk toward the plant and I can make out something written on the envelope: JONAS.
My eyes open wide and I begin to breathe heavily, as I approach the letter my heart begins to beat faster and I can feel the anxiety overtake my hopelessness and fill my veins. I glance at the letter once more and extend my arm noticing the trembling as I grab the letter. I open it and find a folded sheet of paper. I pull out the paper, unfold it and read.
We are glad that you mustered the strength and the courage to open this letter.
You have a lot of questions as to why you are here, who we are and so on; there is no need to worry about any of that.
The important thing is that you need to find a way to get out of here, correct?
Then we have great news for you!
30 kilometers West of where you are is a cabin. It has food, water, clothes and a phone that you can use to call any authorities to help you get out of here.
But you must hurry up! You have until sunset to reach the cabin.
In the case that you do not reach it, we will resort to killing you.
Best of Luck.
We'll be watching!"
"This must be a joke!" I yell out as my hands shake and drop the letter to the ground. I look at all directions to see if I can make out the hiding spot of whoever has obviously kidnapped me and dropped me here to play a game. "Where are you?! Show yourself!" I demand as different feelings rush through my body and mind.
"You think this is a joke?! To play with people's lives as if they were lab rats. Kill me now! I have no intention of heading to that cabin, so I'll make it easier for you!" I continue yelling as my chest opens up and arms extend as wings.
All of this mental pressure weakens my legs and make me fall to the ground. I begin to weep and wonder what have I done to deserve this. As I let go of all the pressure that has built up inside of me I analyze my options. One thing is for certain, once the sun sets I will be killed either by the persons who left that letter or by the animals or the elements of this place.
But what if the letter is correct and there is a cabin with supplies and a way to get out? It's a gamble I am willing to take because if I stay here would that be the end of me? Just sobbing on the ground? No! I need to at least do it and whatever happens, at least I know was the best I could do.
I grab the letter from the ground, stand up and look to the sun and shadow of the cactus to know what time it is and where West is located. "Well, here we go," I say out loud and take the first step of many that will be for a couple of hours in this arid landscape.
I have no idea how long I have been walking but I feel tired, my lips are chapped and my body is hungry for energy. I sense my skin has changed its color due to the harsh rays of the sun hitting my face. I pull out the letter from my pocket and reread it countless of times to understand what is its main purpose. I wonder and hypothesize if this is a trap then who else would know that I am stuck or that my body is stuck here? I could as well disappear and no one would ever notice, except my coworkers, my parents or the clerk at the grocery store who always fills me up with gossip that happens in the town. Regardless of my ideas or constant thoughts of doubt, I have made my decision and I do hope that this is the best choice.
As my walking continues, I notice that my steps are slower and with less energy. My body is overheating but I continue with long strides; I begin to remember all the sayings that I've heard of being in a desertic place. It is mentioned that you fall in a relaxing meditative mindset because all you see for hours and kilometers without end is the same wilderness. But in my view, I believe that what they find relaxing is that even though everything looks the same, in the end, they know it will eventually change. That is at least the hope I have for this cabin, regardless of whether it is there or not.
Though, I know that I need to stop overthinking about this since it uses all the resources that I have in my body I can not help it. The remorse fills up my emotional state and makes me ask myself, "Why me?"
"Why out of all the people in the world am I the one who has to go through this?"
I shake off the thought for I notice that my strides are getting smaller and with less energy than before. I also notice that the sun is slowly lowering and that sunset is near and yet, there is no cabin in sight. "Should I continue?" I ask myself. My legs are tired of the constant walking, my skin is hot, I am thirsty, hungry and my face is covered with dirt and sand from the small yet graceful gusts of wind.
I can't take a step further.
I fall to the ground with my knees bent in front of me. I cross my arms and place them on my knees, lowering my head in between them. Tears can not come out of my eyes for there is not enough water in my body. I feel a deep sense of betrayal within me and that I have been played into believing that whoever brought me here would give me the way out so easily.
Despite all of these thoughts what else could I have done? The odds are against me and in no way do I have control over the situation.
From between my legs, I see the sunlight dimming. I pick up my head and see the slow dance of the universe taking place as it has done for ages, the setting of the sun. A smile appears in my face since I know that that cabin is a farse and eventually my end would come once the sun has disappeared from view. Despite that, I am grateful that on my last day I am able to see this wonderful moment once more.
A strong gust of wind picks up dirt and blows it North when I hear a creak of a rusted metal move by the force of the wind. I look to that direction and a few meters away I could see a cabin covered in dark and dried wood boards. My body feels a jolt of fresh energy surging from within. Without thinking, I stand and sprint toward the cabin as the light of the sun becomes dimmer.
A smile fills my face but due to desperation, I do not focus on that feeling but rather in the effort to reach the front door of the cabin as the last rays of the sun disappear behind the towering mountains.
I feel the cold air of the night creeping into the surface of my skin but I do not stop.
As each step brings me closer to the cabin I feel a fresh new jolt of energy surging in my legs I have no idea where this energy comes from, so I do not question it further.
I keep running when suddenly, I find myself slowly hovering above the ground and then my body makes a thud as it falls into the ground, a sharp pain follows and everything becomes dark.
I slowly open my eyes, expecting to see the dark indigo night sky of the desert covered with countless stars but to my surprise, I see a white roof that is noticeable by the moonlight that is passing through the window. Startled by this new reality I move my head to explore the area. I'm in a room in which walls are painted in light blue. My entire body is covered with white soft linen and my head is laying on top of a soft feathery pillow. It is all familiar to me, it appears that I am in my bedroom and that it was just a nightmare. yet, it all felt real, how could that be?
As I wonder about that question my head gives off a sharp nail-like pain. I touch it and feel the bandage of gauze wrapped around it and recall vividly the moment I fell. The question that now arises is why am I back in my room? What happened?
I sit upright in the bed and notice on the drawer next to it a white envelope. My eyes widen and stare directly and can make out my name is written on it: JONAS.
My heart starts to throb and I can not take my sight off from it. I pick up the envelope, opened it and read the letter that is within it.
Great job on making the decision of heading to the cabin, unfortunately, your desperation and not moving quickly did not allow you to make it before sunset.
You fell on the ground and hit your head with a rock and that caused you to become unconscious.
Since we are not savages, we decided to bring you home to rest, but it's not over.
Once you are back to normal we'll be back for you.
We'll be watching!"
My hands tremble as the letter falls off and I stand up to check the closet, under the bed and through the window to see if there is any sign of someone forcing it or something unfamiliar but nothing.
I pick up my phone to call the police and when I place it on my ear I hear the voice of a strange creature, "No one can help you" and the ringing tone dies off.
Thank you for reading!