Alex turned over in his bed. It was much rougher and solid than he remembered. He was cold, too. He felt a cool breeze that sent a shiver throughout his body. Alex was confused. There shouldn’t be a breeze in his apartment.
Opening his eyes, Alex saw something he wasn’t expecting: Grass. The greenest grass he had ever seen. Alex opened his eyes wider and his heart began to race. He scrambled to his feet, now standing in the middle of a large field in only his underwear.
Alex did a 360 and scanned his surroundings. Behind him was what looked like a medieval castle surrounded by a circular cluster of villages with wooden and stone houses. Smoke was rising from chimneys. It was at least a quarter of a kilometer away from where he currently stood hunched over and holding his upper arms.
“What…?” was all Alex could manage to say.
His legs and arms were itchy from laying in the grass. He wondered how long he had been sleeping there.
Not even making a conscious decision about it, Alex began walking towards the closest village. His pace was slow and cautious and the expression on his face was that of fear and bewilderment.
As he got closer, Alex caught the scent of meat cooking in the air. He realized that he was hungry and his hands moved to his belly.
He was close enough now that he could see and hear people chatting, walking, running, and laughing. Alex stopped about fifty meters from the village. He stared at it, trying to understand what was happening to him. He was afraid to enter the village, unsure as to what its inhabitants would think about him.
Alex wanted to ask for help but he couldn’t quite figure out what to say. He shuffled closer. He had nowhere else to go and he needed to get some food in his body. The night before, he hadn’t eaten anything. He was working hard on the sixth season of Explorers and had forgotten to eat. Engrossed in the episode he was working on, he had neglected to take care of his body’s basic needs. Now he was paying the price for it.
After standing in the same spot for about ten minutes thinking about entering the village, Alex finally forced himself to do it.
As he entered, a beautiful, well-toned woman with dark skin and long black hair walked up to him. She was a complete contrast to Alex, her olympian physique being a far cry from his skeletal, nearly anorexic figure, and she stood at least a foot taller than him. Alex was a bit short for his age, but the sheer difference in height was striking and unusual, and would have been intimidating if not for her gentle, middle-aged face.
She looked concerned and asked Alex a question. It was a question, Alex knew that, but the words that made up that question were not familiar to him.
He looked at the woman in the eyes and said, “Huh?”
The woman repeated her question, but it didn’t make it any easier for Alex to understand her. He stared blankly at the woman. She pointed at his stomach and made a fist with her other hand. She put her fist to her mouth and made a chewing motion with her jaw. Alex understood and bowed his head slightly. She seemed to be asking if he was hungry. The woman then cupped her hands together and put them to her mouth. Alex understood that, too. He bowed his head again. Thirsty.
The woman turned around, gestured him to follow, and began to walk. Alex hesitated for a second, but when his stomach made a rumbling noise he started walking behind her.
The woman led Alex through the village. The two passed by vendors, street performers, and houses. Some people had stopped what they were doing and were staring at Alex. Alex didn't notice the people in the village gazing at him, for he was lost in his own thoughts. He wondered how he had ended up here, in such a foreign place, almost naked. Why hadn't he recognized the language the woman had used? Alex was unable to come up with a logical explanation for his situation.
The woman that Alex had been following stopped in front of a modest-looking cabin. She turned to him and said something. Her voice sounded warm and inviting and her tone made Alex feel a small bit at ease. She opened the door to the cabin and walked inside. Alex wasn't sure if she wanted him to follow her. He heard the woman say something but not knowing what she said made Alex apprehensive.
Alex heard swift footsteps from inside and they were getting louder. The woman came speed walking out of the cabin, grabbed Alex by the hand, and led him inside. She brought him to a wooden chair in front of a table and sat him down. She then went back to the door and closed it.
Looking at the table, Alex saw—and smelled—a hot bowl of stew with vegetables and large chunks of meat and a spoon sitting beside it. The woman walked over to the table, picked up the spoon and handed it to Alex. She said a single word: "Ki'ilgas".
Alex, though never having heard that word before, knew what it meant and he began to eat.