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Garret stared at the night sky and prayed for death. His head was fuzzy; his thoughts formed, then tumbled into oblivion. His back felt damp as the warmth drained from his body. With difficulty, he looked to the right, toward where he had heard the voice. He could barely see anything in the twilight gloom, but someone was near.

He rolled his head back to its prone position and concentrated once again on the stars, nestled in the fabric of deep blue sky, high above the orange and purple hues near the horizon. It was a perfectly clear evening, the kind where it almost seemed plausible to reach your hand out and pluck one of the twinkling orbs right out of space. It was a childlike vision, but he held fast to it, didn't want it to drift away like so many of his memories seemed to do lately.

When he attempted to raise his arm, Garret frowned at the difficulty. He was stiff, as though he had been in the same position for an extended time. Again, he tried but his arm fell back at his side with a soft pat.

As his swollen tongue moved across cracked lips, Garret realized that he must be dehydrated. His throat was bone dry. When he coughed, tiny, sharp fragments that must've been expelled from his lungs, embedded themselves into the walls of his esophagus and the roof of his mouth and Garret winced. He inspected the fragments with his tongue and the resulting contact produced a grating noise, as though the surface of the malleable muscle was coated with coarse fibers of its own. He tested this assumption by pressing this bizarre, new tongue against his palate and grumbled when firm bristles dug into flesh.

Tasting blood, Garret suddenly became aware of a peculiar sensation in the rear of his scalp. When he raised his head, he could feel something attached to it. It moved with his head. A part of it.

Again, came the voice. It called out but Garret couldn't quite understand it. It was closer than before, but still too far away to comprehend its message.

He pulled against the leathery restraint fixed to his skull. For the first time, Garret heard the creaking sound of stress applied to the tether. From this sound, he discerned that it must be...woody in nature. Some sort of vine perhaps? That didn't seem to make sense, but that's what it sounded like. When he attempted a severer thrust, a shockwave of pain erupted from where the thing was secured to his head. He immediately loosened the slack and the discomfort subsided.

"What is this?" Garret mumbled to himself. Even his voice was altered. He didn't recognize its gruff nature.

Garret again sought the stars for comfort and found them in the night sky. Yet he only now realized the irregular perspective from which he viewed the nocturnal heavens. He became aware of the angle that gravity tugged at him and found that he was not lying on the ground as he had thought. Instead, he was upright, his back against a wall, staring through a massive cavity in what was once the interior of a house, but was now a mangled mess.

Only a portion of the roof remained, with several rafters still intact. A deformed brick chimney jutted into the sky like the headless spine of some prehistoric beast. There was a charred sofa on its side at the far end of the room and two arm chairs set before the cold fireplace had been overturned. Behind Garret was a solid wall. He dug his fingernails into the material and when fragments fell to the ground, concluded that it must be exposed drywall.

His legs too, were restrained by something but the limbs were concealed by dense shadows. Garret assumed that more vines ensnared them. As he thrust his hips forward and more drywall tumbled to the floor, he was overcome by a shot of adrenaline, caused by a spasm of pure panic. He cried out in his dry, rasping voice. Trembling, his heart pounding out powerful beats, Garret quickly realized that he wasn't merely secured to the wall. He was bonded to it.

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