Boldly now, I walked into the green forest. The air was stifling hot and humid. Sweat soaked me before I’d walked fifty paces. I stopped and looked around, hoping to find any signs of life other than the moss.
The first red laser sliced through my backpack so my possessions dropped out into a pile behind me. I dove to the ground, heard a hissing, smelled burnt vegetation, rolled to fit myself behind a large downed tree.
I grabbed and stuffed my gear into the damage backpack and hugged it tightly to my chest.
Another hissing red laser strike, sliced off a piece of heel off my right boot. I ran for the portal opening. Behind me following like feasting starving creatures, red laser beams swept up and down.
My second dive and I was through back to where the owl now seemed to be impatiently waiting.
“Thanks for that,” I said as I sat and examined my boot. The entire heel was not gone, but walking would prove interesting.
I sat there for about thirty minutes, repaired and carefully repacked my gear, and then stood and waved for the owl to lead. It did and we went even farther into the forest, far enough that I began to wonder where I was thinking the forest I entered to escape could not be that large.
The owl was gone suddenly. I felt a sigh build in my chest and was ready to give up and return to my attempted escape to the ocean when it appeared out of the woods a hundred feet ahead.
A third portal, I walked to where the owl sat, then looked where it had appeared. Another arch but this one hewn from a large boulder and beyond it was paradise. I decided I’d need a half-day to reach the lake in the distance. Trees lined two side of the water and beyond was a mountain range, not jagged and miles high, but certainly too high for easy climbing.
Again I glanced at the owl. This time it did a slow blink as if it encouraged me to enter.
“Okay,” I said, although a bit scared after the last portal. “Tell Attrea that I will search for her until I find her or die in the attempt.” I knew I sounded dramatic, but really had no way of knowing if the owl understood, or if that was what Attrea desired from me. Maybe it was the owl’s way to get me out of her life. I didn’t know and didn’t really care, but saying it felt right. Occasionally that is all we have to press us forward. Leave everything behind, add recent events to the strings of beads that memories form, and bury them where you either find them if needed, or forget them to live the future without their burden.
Beyond the fifty feet of safety where I could return and exit, I saw nothing to alert me to a threat. No lasers, no projectile weapons, just peaceful serenity. When I looked behind me, the owl was gone. This then, I thought and headed for the lake.