Ken shakes dirt from his hair and squints as the small pieces irritate his eyes. He pushes through the roots above him till he can reach through the dirt. He feels around, finds a durable root, and pulls himself upward, thrusts up his second hand to clear some room for his broad shoulders and then begins to breach the ground with his head. Like a newborn child he slowly breaks through the dirt seam into a new world. Above the ground, through the grit in his eyes Ken can see a forest of trees. Someone offers a hand from above him and Ken takes it without thinking. Another hand appears and then a third. Slowly they lifted him through the dirt and help him stand upon the forest floor. It was then that he noticed his lack of clothing but someone offered him a large shirt and pants. Ken put on the clothing, which was loose around his waist. He then dug the dirt from his eyes and looked upon the group standing around him. A couple young men stood with a frown, dressed in World War II fatigues. The fatigues were sand brown and tied underneath a pair of old black boots. To his right stood a large man who smiled widely. It was a frightful smile, almost perverted. “Hi, my name is Gabriel. Who are you?” Gabriel’s smile dropped after the question. It was an accusatory tone saved for a suspect in a crime.
“My name is Ken Addison, have you seen my wife Jean?”
“No, have you seen my brother, John?” Gabriel asked as he began to step toward Ken. “Wait,” said Ken as he stepped back and against the large tree behind him. “He doesn’t happen to be tall and have a bad attitude?” Gabriel’s smile returned.
“Great,” Ken thought as he searched for something positive to say but one of the men in fatigues added. “They must of ended up going through the wrong portals, Gabriel. It’s ok, we will find him.”
“This is bullshit,” complained Gabriel. “All these years and now nothing…”
“I know Gabriel but we will find him. The train stops in two hours. We will climb on and head north to the next entry point. He is probably with this man’s family.”
“What are you talking about?” Said Ken a little louder then he intended. “Is my family with your brother?”
Gabriel slapped a large hammy hand upon Ken’s shoulder and stated, “don’t worry, my brother gets along with everyone.” Ken waited for Gabriel to laugh but he didn’t. The group turned North and Ken followed with a great concern upon his face.
The group walked slowly and Ken inspected this new world. From this perspective there was little he could see outside the thick brown tree trucks and green canvas above him. He could see little light attempting to leak through the cracks in the large canvas but it was only enough to guess that it was sometime during the day. All he knew, it could be day all the time.
“Can you tell me where I am,” Ken asks after several moments of quiet.
“Your in the Forest of Narcissus,” said one of the men.
“Narcissus? Isn’t that a Greek story about a man in love with himself?”
“It is,” said the shorter of the two men dressed in fatigues. He bent down as he walked and picked up a large stick. “Narcissus was the son of a river god named Cephissus and a nymph named Liriope. He was a hunter renown for his beauty but he was also cruel. When a mountain nymph was spurned by him the goddess of revenge, Nemesis, tricked him into falling in love with his reflection within a pool of water.”
“Wow, ok,” said Ken as it sank in that these men were talking about Greek mythology from Earth. “I thought that would be restricted to one world, like Earth.”
“Erik, this guy over here, likes to show off his Greek history skills. He is good to have around in a world like this. His brother Aaron is a bit of a brute but that isn’t without it’s advantages either…” Gabriel laughed loudly as he continued to walk forward carefully walking over small pools of water. “…as far as I know this world is a part of Earth just not quite within the same realm you are used too. We use a lot of Greek references here. A lot of places are appropriately named for stories from that era.”
“Ok, so where am I? What do you call this place we live in?”
“No idea,” said Gabriel, “I just know that we are walking within the Forest of Narcissus and I need to pay attention to where I’m stepping. This forest is enchanted in many ways and I prefer to not run into them.”
“Enchantment? Are you talking fairy tale enchantments? Seriously?”
“Seriously,” said Gabriel. “Don’t step in the water.”
Ken began to step forward but something had a hold of his booted foot. He fell forward and tried to grab the nearest tree but was a foot short of it. He fell to the ground and turned. Ken’s large boot slipped from his foot and he sat staring at a muscular arm thrust up from a small pool of water. The boot suddenly flew past him and landed behind him.
“I told you to stay out of the water,” Gabriel stated calmly as he helped Ken to his feet. Gabriel then smacked Ken’s chest with the large boot and left. Ken leaned cautiously against the tree closest and slipped the boot back on his foot. The muscular arm flailed around searching and eventually gave up and disappeared with the pool of water again. Ken turned, barely missed another pool of water, and quickly caught up to the men walking away from him. Gabriel turned and smiled as Ken slowed to a walk. “Glad to see you didn’t get lost,” he said. “It wouldn’t be much of a loss, wait till John sees him,” said Aaron.
“What does that mean?” insisted Ken. “Nothing,” said Aaron with a sly smile.
“I just want to see my wife,” stated Ken, “any other business you three have is nothing compared to that goal.”
“Our business would be over if you had gone the right direction down below. It’s slightly weird how this has happened because usually its fairly simple.” Gabriel snorted. “Well…” Ken began angrily when he noticed a large pool of water up ahead. Several people, mostly naked, stood quietly within it and around it.
“Gabriel, we can’t go around,” said Erik pointing out a large troop of red-dressed soldiers. “Crap.”