I blinked. The voice in my head was my own, as though I was asking myself a question. The gray eyes glowered down at me, and he ground his boot harder into my hand. My grip on the bridge faltered and I slid down an inch.
I yelled at him, not willing to hold back my anger. “Where is what? What are you trying to find?”
He pointed at me with an armored hand, leaning down so that I could see him more clearly. His skin was pale with a slight yellow tint, like teeth that weren’t brushed enough. His nose was long and hooked down, his forehead devoid of wrinkles like his hair was pulled back way too tight inside of his helmet. In contrast, the lower half of his face was lined and weathered, as though it had seen to many years of bad news. That face frowned down at me now, his eyes drilling into my core. His lips parted and a wheeze came out as I heard my voice in my head again.
“I’m right in front of you old man! What the hell do you want?” I tried to lift my hand, but his foot wouldn’t budge.
He pulled his arm back and extended his sword towards me.
WHERE ARE YOU?
I opened my mouth to yell again that I didn’t understand, but I realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere. I didn’t know how I got on this bridge, let alone what the hell the problem with it was. Instead, I decided on a different approach.
“Go fuck yourself.” I gritted my teeth in pain still, but grinned up at him. He apparently didn’t like this response, as his eyes narrowed and he moved the sword away from my face. He also lifted his boot from my hand, giving me sweet relief. It was short lived however, as he smiled back at me without humor and cleaved through the support ropes above my head with a massive swing. He steadied himself on the hand rope and didn’t move, but I slid down with the slack on the rope and nearly lost my grip. My shoulders and hands ached terribly, but I held on like my life depended on it, as it truly did.
“What the fuck do you want?” I yelled, desperately trying to get a better grip.
He stared down at me as I struggled, now watching with a bored look in his eyes.
WHERE. ARE. YOU.
“I’m hanging from a bridge with a psychopath above me in the middle of nowhere!”
He shook his head, raising his sword above my hand on the planks.
My mouth opened and closed a couple of times, trying to think of another way to tell him I didn’t know what he wanted. It came to me a moment later. I smiled again, looking directly into his eyes. “Not here.”
I let go of the bridge as his soed embedded into the planks and split to of them. He stumbled for a moment, and that was the last I saw of him through the fog as I fell.
The damp, cool air rushed past me as I fell on my back. I had no idea what was below me, but it was hopefully better than losing a hand. If I was lucky, I would-
The air was knocked out of me as I crashed hard into the water below me. I was immediately chilled to my bones, along with a back that felt like it had just his concrete. I floated in the darkness for what felt like an hour, but strangely I didn’t feel short of breath. I was relaxed and the world seemed to envelop me in a cold that stopped being shocking or painful and instead felt like it brought me to a safe place in the water. I looked around myself, but only saw darkness all around. I closed my eyes, unsure which direction was up or down. A feeling ran its way down my arms and I began repeating the motions that Layla had taught me. I saw light through my eyelids and slowly opened them. I had produced a small orb of light in my hands, which revealed that I was floating just above the bed of this body of water. I looked around again, but only saw sand and silt along the bottom. I saw movement, and focused my vision on a patch of sand to my right. A wormlike creature was burrowing through the sand, and it emerged from the depths to turn and face me and my light. It had a round, toothy maw and two eyestalks that stared at me, unblinking. I tried to scream, but only released a torrent of bubbles. This reminded me of my need for air. I threw my orb at the worm, which became a spear of light and pierced one of its eyes.
After a moment being stunned, I kicked and flailed frantically for the surface. My lungs burned terribly, and water came into my mouth as I fought the urge to inhale, but I managed to break the surface and take a deep breath. I brought in water with it and coughed for a long time as I did my best to tread the… river water? Lake? I couldn’t tell. The fog was even more dense above the surface, but at least I was out of the depths.
I tried to find the bridge above men, but it was a fruitless effort. I picked a direction at random and began to swim.
After a long time, I realized that I should have reached some kind of shore. I picked a direction at a forty five degree angle from my current path and went on. After a long while, I was too exhausted to continue, doing the best I could to float on my back and tread water. I didn’t want to know what was below me, but I knew that I had to keep going..
I was so tired though, and felt like at any moment I was going to fall asleep. I didn’t know if I could keep my head above water if that happened though, so I clenched my hands, flipped back over, and continued on.
After a while longer, I felt my vision fading to black, but I couldn’t fight it any more. I reached inside of myself for something more to push myself with, but nothing came to me. I kicked one more time, weakly, and my eyes drifted shut.