Watching the mist swirling into a solid mass in front of me, I quietly celebrate the end of my fourth week in isolation. I say that I did this quietly because I have not uttered a word to another human since I became stranded here, although I have initiated a one-sided discussion with a pair of oddly shaped trees to which I have given the names of Phil and Dave. I talked to them about the weather, which they have no real opinion on (being trees), but that I have grown to loathe with every fibre of my being. I have the thought, every now and again, that I’m going mad from lack of human contact, but I manage to push it aside; doubting myself will not help me escape this place.
To be completely honest, I am unable to comprehend how it was that I got this lost, only sure of the fact that it will not be easy to get un-lost again. Ancient civilisations believed that if you sailed far enough, you would fall off the end of the earth. Illogical though I know this to be, I feel as if I am at that point now, at the end of the earth, and if I take a few more steps forward, I will depart this realm forever. The reasonable side of my brain resists this idea, though. I’ve not gone mad, not yet, at least.
All I have are brief flashes of memory in between the fog I feel creeping into my mind, almost in sync with the fog in front of me: people, real people, laughing and joking. Vibrant colours surrounding me, I feel safe — safe and warm. I feel loved. No – now I feel terror, pure terror. A body on the floor, glassy eyes staring through me. I hear screaming, and I think for a few, foolish, glorious seconds that I am being rescued, but as I drag myself back into reality I realise that I am not, and the only person screaming is me. Pushing the memories to the back of my mind, I place one foot in front of the other and resume walking. I have to rescue myself; I can’t remember – I don’t want to remember why, but I feel sure that nobody is coming for me.
The mist seems to be all around me now, obscuring all of my senses. I am no longer sure how long I have been out here, or how much longer I can manage. My only companions, Dave and Phil, seem to be moving now, beckoning through the fog. I thought I walked past them days ago.
I am so sure now that I have not been going mad as I feared; Dave reassured me of that. He’s a good conversationalist and tells me all kinds of things, about the origins of the universe, myths and reality, although they are so similar now, so hard to distinguish. I have given up on walking now. I do not want to fall off the end of the earth.
I can see so much more clearly now that I have stopped trying to resist. The landscape, which once seemed so barren and inhospitable, I now realise is overflowing with life. Insects stroll over my motionless body as I lie flat on my back, facing the stars. They, too, are alive, the spirits of the dead watching over me serenely. The rotting carcass of a dead worm rests a few feet away. I wonder if it will join the stars. I wonder if I will join the stars.
Now, I do not realise how I could have spent so long hating this place. I feel more at peace with every second I am here. Even the mist does not bother me so much anymore. I feel like part of it now. Dave and Phil assure me that this is completely normal, that they feel that way as well. I am too weak to stand now, but they are not. They dance over the barren landscape, more gracefully than I could ever manage.
I will join them soon, but first I must sleep. I feel more tired than I’ve ever been.