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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Waking up

I woke up in soft, cool soil. A gentle, smoke tinged breeze floated over me and I realized I was naked. I opened my eyes and could not make out where I was. It was night and the stars shined so bright they lit up the earth without the help of moonlight. I sat up and looked around. I was in a freshly plowed field in the middle of a small valley. There were green hills to the north west and south and a small wooded glen of ash trees to my right. The faint glow a city lit up the hill directly in front of me. At least there was some civilization nearby. My hair was a tangled mess, my limbs ached and my head spun. I looked around desperately to see where my clothes and bag had landed when I passed out. At least I assumed I must have passed out from the heat, there was no other explanation. My notebook, my clothes...they were nowhere to be found. Nothing around me looked even remotely familiar. Where was the barn? Where was the old oak tree? These hills were so different from the ones I had traipsed across earlier in the day. I could have sworn I'd never been here before. As it was it still meant I was alone and incredibly exposed. As achy as I was I stood up, reeling, and hurried for the shelter of the trees. It was so eerily quiet there. No sound of nocturnal animals only the rustling of the leaves in the night air. And the air, it was hard to describe, but it felt different. Aside from the woodsy smoke I smelt, the air seemed...pure, clean. Like there was more oxygen to it. Perhaps that was what was making my head spin. The elevation must be higher here, where ever "here" was. I crouched behind a bush and tried to think of what to do next. First and foremost I needed clothes. There was a small wooden barrow a few yards away so I guessed someone lived nearby. I couldn't very well go walking through the woods naked though so I hoped they were close. I walked deeper into the woods strategically hiding behind the trees as I went.

I had only gone fifteen feet when I spotted a small shack to my left. I approached quietly and as I did I couldn't help wondering if maybe someone had found me when I passed out and brought me here, and what if I this shack happened to belong to that person. And what if I was walking straight into a trap of some sort and they were waiting there to bind me and .... I shook the thoughts out of my head. I had to find shelter and clothing as soon as possible and I would figure the rest out later. the little shack had a small brick chimney and only one wood shuttered window on the side. The door stood partially ajar and it scraped the pressed earth as I pulled it towards me. Keeping my back to the wall I crept slowly inside and let my eyes adjust. I realized with a wave of relief that it was empty. There was no place in that seven by seven foot box that anyone could hide. A short, low cot was placed under the window to my right. It had what looked like a burlap sack filled with hay and feathers lying across a hatch work of rope. Odd, I thought, I remembered seeing those during school field trips to pioneer towns. I piece of thin fabric hung off the end like a blanket. There was a small table with a low stool, a stubby candle and a piece of old paper on it. On the far wall the fireplace held an iron pot and ashes. And next to me was a little wooden chest which I immediately began to rummage through in hopes of some scrap of clothing. I wasn't surprised to find nothing but rudimentary tools, flint and kindling and some crumpled linen cloth. But as I was about to toss it down the linen unfolded into a tunic and thick wool tights and a leather belt fell out. Without thinking I pulled on the tights and tunic. They itched horribly but I couldn't argue. They were clothes. The tights were two sizes two big but I remembered reading books about medieval dress and remembered seeing that the belt was worn over the tunic and strapped on so as the tights would not fall down. I hesitated with the latch on the belt. Medieval clothes? What were they doing here? Either I stumbled into one of those Renaissance reenactment towns or my captor has some weird fetishes. But I didn't linger to find out. In the chest there was a brown linen vest and an animal skin satchel that attached to the belt, I threw those on for good measure, put the flint inside the satchel and left the little shack.

For the time of day I was surprisingly alert. The ache in my limbs was dull now and my head had steadied. I walked carefully back towards the field to explore now that I had my new attire. It was still empty so I wandered toward the city lights. I was dress like a goon but at least I would be dressed when the police found me and took me home. I'm sure my family was wondering where I was by now. I started to climb the little hill to the north. I hadn't bothered to look for shoes and the little rocks and brambles dug into my soles. It was steeper than it had looked from the valley and I was panting a little as I got to the crest. A gust brought a harsh stench of smoke to my nose and I gasped as I looked out. Another little valley laid out in front of me. But in it was no brightly lit city. It was a medieval village. And it was completely engulfed in flames.


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