My vision is covered in a blanket of morning fog. The thick kind, that stings you with pinpricks of cold and makes your breath come in raspy clouds of condensation.
It's enough to cloak most of what I see, all I can make out is the forest canopy above me, a haze of emerald green dancing amongst the white. It's a vibrant, mossy colour that registers with it some sort of familiarity, but my brain is slow and fumbles over it as I try and process what I'm doing here.
I'm laying down. I can feel the thick underbrush cradling my neck, the soil cold against my bare legs.
It's then that I work out I'm dreaming. Or at least that I'm not completely conscious, because I can't rotate my head to look anywhere but above me.
I focus on my senses. I can smell the wet soil beneath my body, the earth moist from the overnight rain. I can hear the low coos of birds and the whispers of the leaves above me moving in the slow, delicate wind. I can feel something cool in my right hand, it's smooth and shaped perfectly for my fist to grip around it as I tighten my fingers.
It's a handle of something. Something with weight to it, something about the length of my forearm.
My hand raises, by some kind of uncontrollable force. I'm a marionette puppet, my limbs controlled by an invisible rope. As if it is desperate to distract me, my mind directs my focus to my toes.
I wiggle them, soil falling around my bare feet.
And then there's a stinging sensation at my throat, a hoarse pain that only grows. It feels as if I am screaming at the top of my lungs, desperate enough to rip at my voice box from the outside. But all I can hear are the birds lightly chatting in the branches high above me.
The instruction is loud, and cracks through the far away noises of the forest as if it is muttered directly into my ears. The tone is demanding; it's an order. But what does it mean? How do I wake up?
The stinging furthers to the point where I'm squirming, my tangled hair catching in the leaves and bark on which I lay. I try and yelp, but I have no control over my mouth to scream.
There's a warm and sticky liquid pooling around my hand. I feel it flow slowly, cloaking the insides of my fingers and sliding revoltingly down the side of my neck, carving its path on the planes of my chest.
The voice is louder now, so loud that I realise it is coming from my own lips.
I sit upwards.
The knife falls to the floor, the wet blade caking the dirt around it in a muddy scarlet.
My hands rush to my neck in an instinctive action to cover the wound. The wound I'd inflicted on myself, in the middle of the forest, early in the morning. So early that nobody would know I was gone.
I gasp for air. Someone wants me dead. And it isn't me, I know that for sure. The revelation hits me so hard that it brings temporary relief to the shallow cut made across my throat, because instead I'm flushed with an overwhelming fear that outweighs the physical pain.
He's trying to kill me.
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Awake | Wattys Winner!Mystery / Thriller
There's nothing you're forced to trust more than your own mind. You're dependent on it, it stores the memories that make up your world. But what if it could be stolen from you? Aspen's world is growing, from the boundaries of her country farm to...