• Published 13th Jul 2012
  • 6,392 Views, 154 Comments

Impressions - Lusewing

When all you want to do is to get back to where you belong it is easy to make mistakes.

  • ...

Grabbing a bite to eat

The mixture of sawdust, sandalwood and the unmistakable musk hanging in the air meant I could smell them as soon as I entered the clearing. I reacted instantly; by standing perfectly still as I tried to slow my breathing, wishing I could somehow turn invisible. Strangely, a small part of me felt that the wish might be completely doable, what with everything else that had happened since getting stuck here, wishing just might work. I subconsciously clutched the metal handle in my right hand tighter, ears strained to pick up any sounds while my eyes tried to make out movement in the undergrowth. Even the hair on the back of my neck stood up, as if to try and pinpoint their location.

I say 'they' because I still didn't know what 'they' were. They always kept out the light and line of sight, but as they looked close enough to wolves in both shape and movement that I was willing to bet their stalking was not to come over for a game of fetch or a belly rub. Besides, with the experiences I had already had with some of the local denizens of this forest, I was not about to let them get near enough for a full inspection just to quench my curiosity. Thankfully, since finding out they had an extreme disdain for loud sounds made by metal, they tended to avoid me as much as I tried to avoid them now. They hunted their prey, I hunted mine. Even so, I was reluctant to bang the cooking pot in my hand against the nearest rock or tree. True it would scare them off, but it would have the added effect of attract other hunters… bigger hunters, and they were not so easily frightened away, and as my guardian angel, whom I affectionately called George, was currently not talking to me, there was no hope of his help either.

It was still strange to me how much I had adapted to this place, especially as it seemed to defy all the laws of reality that I had ever known. What with mythical animals and plants that tried to eat you faster than you could eat them. Truth be told, I was still amazed that I was alive, even with the state I was currently in.

I was a mess and I knew it. Scratched from head to toe with a bandage on my left shoulder where I had tried, and failed, to climb an old apple tree two days past. Several lines of scars, all varying in age and size, webbed all over my arms and legs, those, thankfully, were from nearer the beginning of my time here, wherever here was. Lately I had been gaining fewer 'lessons' on survival. I had adapted and learned the dangers of whatever fantasy world I was in but every time I learnt to avoid something, something else would try and take a chunk out of me. Even my clothes were more patches sewn together then anything that had originally come from Earth, and my hair... well, that brown tangle of mess could rival the forest and vines around me. My feet, in particular, had been reduced to using former T-shirts as protection, and were completely soaked from the sodden ground. I would have preferred going barefoot, but there were too many strange plants on the floor for me to risk putting my skin on offer.

The feeling of the water moving around my toes with each step made me increasingly miss my trainers, but I had lost both of them to quicksand just two weeks into this nightmare. While it was true that I did have other shoes back at the house, they weren’t suited to this sort of terrain. Besides with how little I had left from my world I didn't want to risk losing anything else to this hell hole. Every time I did, I felt too much like my connection with my birth world was weakened and that connection was all I had to keep alight my hope of going back there someday. This could of course all just be some sort of mental breakdown, that had been my initial theory for the first month but, real or not, it didn't seem to matter. Tired - sleep. Hungry - eat. Something trying to eat me - run away.

A growl off to my right made me stop my existential pondering and hold up the small cooking pot in front of me. I tapped it once with one of my few remaining nails, letting it give off its dull metal 'tonk' sound as a warning. Rattling bushes leading away from me gave the impression that the warning had done its job, but it was still a full minute before I could will myself to move and take a real breath. Looking around, I took stock of my surroundings and picked the path that lead away from where the shadow wolf had gone, there was no need to push my luck with those creatures. I had my own hunt to get to, though I was far less enthusiastic about it then the wolf creatures tended to be with theirs. What I wouldn't give for a proper meal that I didn't have to forage or catch myself. At this point, even a Pot Noodle would be a relief.

Alas, if I wanted to eat and have a full belly then it was up to me to sort the problem out rather than wishing for the comforts of home.

Less moping, more doing.

That had become my mantra lately to stop myself falling into depression or madness, and I think I had staved off both for the most part so far. If I gave up now, then I would never get back home. I would never see my mom or dad again. I would never finish my college degree, and I would never find out if Mark really was the guy for me. Besides George would never let me hear the end of it. ‘One day at a time’, I told myself. It was just a pity that the days were mounting up now. This one would be two hundred and seventy three by Earth standards. I only hoped time flowed the same way here. Maybe it was like Narnia and if... when I get back home it would be as though I had never left. Well at least then I would get to enjoy a proper twenty first Birthday party.

Focusing on more present needs, it was not that long before I found a nice spot where a few shafts of sunlight were able to break through the dense patchwork of leaves and branches. With any luck the Gobblers in the area would also be attracted by the warm light and open area.

Gobblers, as I have come to call them, are about the size of a baseball with small legs, big eyes and dragonfly like wings. They look fluffy, cute and are relatively harmless compared to most things in these woods. Their only downsides were their appetite, which was huge, and that they bred faster than the Energizer bunny on Viagra. How I came to find out these facts happened when I had tried to keep a few as company, as well as planning to use them as bait for other animals. That endeavor had left me with almost no rations after just two days of catching five of the creatures. It was only then in desperation that I resorted to trying to eat the little things, which by that time had numbered in the hundreds, both to get rid of them and to feed myself.

To my surprise, they actually weren’t that bad. A little chewy if they weren’t stewed for long enough, and you had to watch out for the razor sharp teeth, but after a diet of mainly what I could forage from the plants around me plus what little I had left from my Earth food stores, the bland meat was a welcome addition. Gobblers however, proved to not be as stupid as they first looked and quickly fled when I started cooking them up for food. Now I had to catch some wild ones that were far enough down the generation line to not to know about the big bad human who no longer saw a cute fuzzy bug but instead a flying meatball. Now if I could just find some sort of living hamburger or a spaghetti plant. All this thought of food was starting to make me hungry... er.

From my pack, I pulled out a small string of cheap, glass crystals that glittered in the light and casted rainbows and fractured colours onto the trees and plants around me. It was really quite a beautiful sight for what was, in all intensive purposes, a trap. I didn’t stop to admire the show and went about the task of securing lengths of braided vine fibers, with small yellow berries threaded along their lengths. They give off a slightly rotting citrus smell which I knew attracted the Gobblers. Once about ten had been secured and tested for their strength, I pulled back and opened the drawstring bag at my side that had once been a pillowcase. The makeshift bag had also once been cream, but was now stained green and brown, a change that had also happened to most of my clothes by now. While it was not an intentional colour change, anything that helped me blend into the surroundings and keep hungry eyes off me was good thing.

With the trap set, I found a good spot to stand in the shade and began to make a purring noise, imitating, as best I could, the sound the Gobblers made most often. About ten minutes later, and ready to give up, I was rewarded for my efforts when three Gobblers buzzed in to view. They trilled and flitting around in a way that said they didn’t have a care in the world, my heart was pulled a little but my stomach pulled harder. I quickly stopped my purring and let the bright colours from the crystals necklace draw them in the rest of the way. There was a pink, a yellow and a brown one, all with with green eyes.

Once the Gobblers started eating the berries from between the braids of the vines, I began moving towards them slowly purring as I did so. My movement caused the trio to look my way, but they were soon ignoring me and back to eating. Under normal circumstances, the berries would have been long gone by now, but I had made things a little more difficult for the critters. After lots of tests, I had found that Gobblers were not keen on the fibers in the vines so instead of eating quickly they had to slow their devouring down enough so that I could get close enough without wasting a bucket of berries. Once the Gobblers had finished the berries on the vines, and were now looking around for more of them I showed that I still had a palmful of the treats in my hand before tipping them into the bag. The Gobblers were hesitant at first, but with a little more purring, the yellow one went inside before being followed by the other two who had no intention of being left out of a meal. Quickly knotting up in the sack and trying to ignore the panicked buzzing inside, I returned the vines and necklace to my bag, and was soon ready to take my cargo home. With any luck, I would have 12 or so by the time I was back, and if I kept them secure in what had once been a shower, I should be able to generate enough food for a while. Maybe I would try Gobbler meat with apple sauce tomorrow night. Today was actually turning out to be a good day.

Walking back home, I made sure to collect the bright ribbons of cloth I had tied to mark my path and prevent myself from getting lost. These woods were not the easiest to navigate and I was still pretty sure that the paths changed at random. Then again I had never been the best at navigating even in my world. A sound caught my ears as I walked - voices, cheery and chatting, though I couldn't make out any individual words. Ducking low, I tried to work out which direction they were coming from, but they sounded far enough away that I could get home before they got anywhere near.

The owners of the voices were the strangest part of this world. For some unknown reason, brightly colored horses, unicorns and pegasi seemed to be the 'humans' of this world, or at least they looked to fill in the same roles as human did back home, as I had unfortunately seen nothing that even came close to my own species in this world. The equines had houses, used tools, and could talk. Truth be told from what limited things I had seen of them, they also seemed quite friendly and fun loving. I had been tempted several times to go down into the town that was not far from the edge of the forest, but it was just too...weird.

Shadow wolves, Gobblers, man-eating plants and even the Manticores were one thing, but they were just animals and plants, weird yes, but natural to a point where even my brain could handle them. The bright horses, on the other hand, were more like aliens to me. Every time they did anything remotely human or un-horse like, it just gave me the shivers as to how 'wrong' it was. Still, wrong or not, my house was here, and the last thing I needed to have was intelligent horses taking me away for study or worse. I had seen Planet of the Apes enough times, and there was no chance I was going to end up in a cage. Besides, with the way I looked I would likely cause a mass panic, and as fun as that might be, the resulting mob of torches and pitchforks would be less enjoyable. I didn't belong here so it was best for everyone if I just kept out of the way and didn't interfere. My life was already messed up, I didn’t need to mess up the lives of those that called this world home.

Turning around I walked to a now very familiar bramble patch. Being fooled a few times before by other bramble patches, with a very painful outcome on each occasion, I first reached forward with my hand to check it really was the right spot. I watched with relief to see, or perhaps, not see, my hand disappear in front of me. ‘At least this world, with all its strangeness, does have some benefits,’ I thought before stepping forward and disappearing without so much as a flash of light or a puff of smoke, not even the plants swayed to mark the passing of a creature so out of place.

Author's Note:

So lets kick this off.
Thanks to Smelly_SockZ for his editing skills, he is likely the reason you have reached the end of this chapter and are hopefully ready to read the next.