Author’s note: I think a lot of stories could use some musical accompaniment, to listen to as you read. Here’s the song for this story.
There is one activity, I can guarantee you, that every person on earth does immediately after waking up. That activity is checking their memory – trying to determine how they got there, what they were doing before they fell asleep, and what they need to do now. Waking up and finding that memory missing, having no knowledge of where you are, how you got there, is one of the scariest feelings I know.
At least, I thought it was scary once upon a time. I’ve seen much worse since then. Welcome to Outworld.
I can still remember that first morning, waking up there. Here. I couldn’t tell you how long ago it was, though. Could’ve been a few weeks, more likely a lifetime. Time and space are funny in Outworld.
I opened my eyes, and for a moment felt the brief sense of confusion that every person feels before they remember where they are. But that time, for me, that confusion never faded. At that moment, I couldn’t tell you where I was, couldn’t tell you the date, couldn’t even tell you my name. I still can’t, for that matter. There’s still not much I can tell you about myself.
As I sat up and gazed around, still searching my head for something that wasn’t there any longer, if it had been there at all, I realized that I was sitting on an old sailing ship. Well, half of one, anyway. The prow of an old three-masted frigate was nestled into the earth at the foot of a massive tree; a god’s knife had cleanly sheared away the back half of the ship. As I sat up, my movement sent a small barrel tumbling over the edge to land with a thump on the forest floor below.
Nothing made sense. I climbed awkwardly to my feet. I was dressed in a set of sturdy work boots, a pair of Levis, and wearing a North Face jacket. That’s what the labels said, at least. The canopy of leaves, seemingly miles above my head, tinted the world in shades of green. For as far as I could see, massive trees reached up into the gloom. Looking at the nearest of these trunks, I guessed that twenty men could not wrap their arms around its girth.
Well, there were coils of rope still on the decks, and I threw one over the side, lowering myself down to the spongy moss below. Once my feet were upon the ground, I sat for a while in the penumbra of shadow cast by the ship, trying in vain to remember. Nothing. Not even a name. As I sat, the shadows shifted around me, but I couldn’t tell what time it was. The sun was obscured by the trees above, and only diffuse shafts of weak light filtered through to the forest floor.
Eventually, there was nothing left to it. I stood up, stretching my limbs. What direction? I turned in a circle, but the woods all looked the same. Eventually, I decided to head out in the opposite direction of the ship. I figured maybe I’d find the other half, the stern, wherever it might have been left behind after being sliced in twain. Just maybe there’d be some answers there.
Looking back now, I shouldn’t have bothered trying to make sense of what had happened. I’ve learned that there’s darn little sense to be found in this place. Just when you think you’ve seen the weirdest thing, something worse is waiting around the corner. But that’s life in Outworld.
Want to read the next chapter? Here’s the link.