There was immense fog flowing through the air. The soil was moist yet no plant dared to grow. He couldn’t understand what had happened, a loud ringing had pierced his hears and he was experiencing great discomfort.
«Where am I?» this was the first question in his mind, the unawareness of his location, a good question but the wrong one. What one should ask himself first is where they were before, however most do not. Fortunately soon enough he will be asking how he got there, and one thing will lead to another.
«A dream?» Perhaps, but he would not be able to confirm that if he kept still. Getting up with the ringing on his ears slowly fading, he tried taking a deep breath, however the air proved hard to breath, the humidity of the fog seemed to be rising.
«Shelter.» He could have thought of a lot of things as he regained consciousness, but this was possibly the best one, shelter from the elements. If he wants to survive, he better find shelter on his first days, going nomad without knowing much would likely lead to his death. There was no way of him knowing his situation as of now, if it was luck or fate itself, no man can tell, but he followed the correct path.
As he walked through the fog he lost perception of time, there was no way of telling how long he had been walking, but he eventually found his way into a cave on the side of mountainous terrain. Settling down he put his bag aside and began to regain his full awareness, the ringing was gone and the only pain he felt was that of the journey.
Nothing made sense, he realized that just like you do when you wake up from a dream, except he didn’t wake up out of where he was, he remained somewhere unknown.
«How did I get here?»
«Why am I carrying this backpack?»
«Where am I?»
This questions flooded his consciousness. As he remembered the day before. He went to school as usual, returned home and did all his chores, in the end he went to sleep, and now he was somewhere he had never been before, out in the wild, confused and lost.
Looking at his hands he became startled. A number had been engraved in his right hand, the number was composed of three digits, two were the same while the other was the furthest from them, two zeros and a nine, nine-hundred.
What did it mean and who did this to him, he did not know, from the looks of it this was a kidnapping of some sort. He had read thrillers like this, if he was in fact kidnapped and branded then he could have some kind of localization device. The backpack seemed like the easiest place for a device to be planted.
As he searched through the backpack he began to realise something. The contents of the backpack seemed specific. 4 nutrition blocks, a flask of water of about 2 litters, a pocket knife, a box of matches, a set of playing cards, some string, a hammer and 8 nails, a lantern with a candle inside and one sleeping bag.
It seemed like some long-term camping preparations, although part of it would be missing, perhaps other people had the rest of it, he might have been put on a group without remembering.
For now the theory he had come up with was:
«I was kidnapped for some reason during my sleep, we were put in groups and given items accordingly, these items would allow us to survive the wilderness, however in the process I got separated from my other team members. The number on my hand has to mean something, if I were to guess it would mean it’s my identification number, but nine hundred people would be a lot to kidnap, then perhaps I am number nine, the zeros on the right may not mean anything. It could also mean something else, but I am unsure of what that would be. If they are kidnapping us and setting us free with this equipment, then they have a motive for sure, I doubt they are coming to get us, it seems we were dropped off on purpose.»
There was a moment of silence in his head, as he contemplated the stone walls of the cave, intrigued by the situation itself. «Why?»
«Why would they do this, research? Entertainment? Boredom? Was there a actual reason even? If so how do they verify the results? Was it by seeing how many came back to civilization?»
He couldn’t grasp their motive, but he would soon realise that wasn’t the biggest problem at hand. The light began to fade away, the day was ending and night would be coming soon.
He set a plan to survive, he would first scout the cave to make sure it was safe, he would then sleep further into the cave to not attract attention of whatever would be in the surrounding area, he would then start a fire to try keeping himself warm and wait until day comes. When the heavy fog lifted he would try to find his way back to civilization.
As he went deeper into the cave, scouting it proved to be a harder challenge then expected, he used one of his matches to light up his candle, however the terrain seemed quite risky, with some holes and several tunnels expanding through the cave.
He wouldn’t just go out of the cave now however, he couldn’t risk it, he decided to set camp a little further from the entrance, just enough so he wouldn’t be spotted by any animals in the night.
When he tried to start a fire he realized he had no hope, he didn’t know how to start a fire and he didn’t want to risk losing a match in vain. Fortunately enough the clothes he was wearing were warm enough that he could survive if he wear them inside the sleeping bag.
Even though he couldn’t fall asleep for some hours he eventually succumbed to his needs. It was during his sleep however that he found the answers. As he started hearing a ghostly and rasp voice.
«You were chosen, along with many others. You are free to use the powers you were gifted however you please. You may exchange their daily use for a tip. You will receive more information when the time comes.»
And just like that the sun began to rise, in what felt like seconds the night had come to an end. As he slowly got up with the message in mind, he realized his situation might be more complicated then he previously thought.
The fog had lifted and the clouds had gone away, he was greeted by the warmth of the sun and the absence of wind. This conditions worked in his favour, he couldn’t waste an opportunity like this.
Packing his jacket on the backpack he set off into the forest, it seemed incredibly dense, he was startled by how much he seemed to have ventured inside, the fog had taken away his perception of the environment.
As he was going through the forest he began hearing something far away. The sound was similar to that of a busy road. He started running towards the sound as fast as he could, it didn’t matter where he was taken, if he got to road that would mean he got to civilization, which was definitely better then being alone in the wilds.
However when he arrived the road was nowhere to be seen, has he had fooled himself with false hopes, the sound he was hearing was that of running water. If he had listened with more care he would surely realize it before, as he approached the sound it became clearer and clearer that he was not heading to a road.
The sound was that of a waterfall, quite tall but not amazingly so. He had not lost hope, he knew that if he followed the stream of water he would eventually find people. The question was to go upstream or downstream.
“Downstream should be the quickest way to civilization.”, as he thought that the world seemed to turn greener for a brief moment. He was startled, was it some weather effect, or was it something else?
As he munched through a nutrition block he came across a colony of mushrooms. He didn’t know when he would be able to get food again once the nutrition blocks ended.
«I wonder if I can eat those.» As he thought that the world was tainted red for a split second.
He was dumbfounded, this couldn’t be effect of the weather. It seemed like it was responsive to his question. He then slowly lift three fingers on his hand, and thought to himself:
«Am I holding up three fingers?» the world seemed to turn green after this question. «Am I holding up four fingers?» everything in his vision turned red upon this question.
“You are free to use the powers you were gifted however you please.”
He wasn’t sure if he understood the situation or if he was just going insane with the stress of being dropped in the middle of nowhere. For the time being he decided it would be best to set it aside and continue heading downstream.