Everything seemed normal at first. I marched through the undergrowth and made good speed towards whatever unknowable, unseeable goal I had set out to find. I let myself be guided by instinct; if this was truly the seat of the power of man, then all I could rely on was my humanity.
I’d been walking for what I can only guess was an hour when I first noticed something strange. The hands on my watch were going in opposite directions. The hour hand was slowly turning towards twelve, as normal, but the minute hand was ticking steadily backwards.
Then, I noticed the sky. It was like it was shattered into pieces. The process had been so gradual that I hadn’t noticed until then but each piece of sky was at a different time during the day. They’d all started at dusk but had since gone in different directions at different speeds. The fastest were approaching either sunrise or sunset, it was hard to tell. It hurt my eyes to look at, so I just put my head down and continued through the strange twilight in which I found myself.
Apparently, my idea of following my instinct worked. As I continued on my path, the strangeness intensified; the sky started changing faster and faster until day and night were dancing together so quickly that pillars of shadow and light began to flit through the trees like ghosts, all in the same direction, like they were converging on a single point. I began to follow them.
After a few minutes, I saw a large shape in the darkness. I slowed down and inched carefully towards it, wary now, knowing that I knew nothing of this place and that caution was warranted. As I got closer, it was suddenly illuminated by a beam of light and I recognised it immediately.
It was Marcus’s car.
Abandoning caution, I ran to it, then stopped as I neared the driver’s window. There was an arm protruding from it, caught on the wing mirror, an antique sword clasped in its hand. Preparing myself for whatever horror remained of Marcus Prendergast, I stepped forward and looked in the window.
He looked exactly as he had the last time I saw him, except for one thing. He was dead and, given how cold he was to touch, had been for quite some time. I barely even questioned the fact that his body was completely intact; this was clearly a place where normal rules did not apply, though, of course, I wondered how he had gotten there in the first place. I didn’t cry that much, since I’d already grieved for him. I just closed his eyes and continued on in the direction his sword was pointing, the direction where the light and shadow were converging, the direction that it seemed I was destined to follow.
It was a short walk to my destination. A small, twisted willow in the middle of clearing. It caught my eye immediately because the rest of the forest was nothing but towering conifers. I cast the light of my torch over its mossy, creased bark, searching for some significance. Instead, I found a face.
A human face.