The rain continued. It was coming in winded sheets now, almost sideways and it stung my skin through my drenched and tightening clothes. I could barely see my watery path as I continued to slide down the thickening river. I wasn’t completely sure as to exactly how I had gotten to this area of the zone, but I tried to paddle the raft forward. I wasn’t so much steering the craft as the surge of the water was moving me in any direction that it wanted to take me. I knew the story of this zone. I was beginning to panic.
Everything was gray. There was little contrast to distinguish what was land and what was water. It was monochromatic fluidity and I was lost. I had no direction. The flow of the river was my path. Unknown. Uncertain. I could no longer control my position as I squinted hard to see if I could find a safe place to make an attempt to pull over until the rain stopped or at least slowed down a bit. The river moved faster now and I didn’t see the thick gray branch that hit my head from above. For a brief moment all was quiet after a flash of bright light, as the rain began to taste warm and salty as it trickled into my mouth, and suddenly I dropped like a rag doll to the floor of the raft and the rain in my head had finally stopped.
My mouth was dusty as I opened my eyes. I tried to move my tongue in my throat to get it wet and all I could do was cough. I coughed again, as my head protested in throbbing pain. The raft was still. There was no motion as I rolled over to face the sky. It was still dark, but the rain was quiet for now. The moon and the stars still gone as the cries of frogs began to enter my ears. It was almost too peaceful as I attempted to push myself up from the floor of the raft. Its soft floor giving way as I clumsily sat upright. I blinked a few times to clear my foggy eyes and tried to make sense of where I was.
I seemed to have floated into a cove. I was surrounded by deep gray forests of finger-like tree trunks highlighted by occasional lightning flashing in the distant sky. From what I could make out, I was almost in the middle of this cove, spinning softly in a wide circle with still no direction or way. I glanced down into the floor of the raft and was relieved to see my oar had remained with me during my turbulent unconscious trip here. I fumbled in the dark again through brief flashes of light and managed to pull the oar up and sliced it into the calm cove water. It was then that I tasted my blood.
I pulled the oar up and with my right hand I touched my forehead and felt the cruel gash where that tree had tried to take me. The skin felt angry and rough and it screamed in fire as I poked and probed at my injury in the dark to see if the bleeding had stopped. It felt dried and somewhat scabby as I deducted that most of the blood I was tasting was dried and crusted about my lips. I was somewhat relieved as I continued the task of rowing toward the darkened mass of land.
The frog’s calls continued to echo in the chambers of forest as I finally felt the raft skim bottom. The sound of soft sand kissing the rubber was welcomed with barely a grin, then a furrowed brow as I knew the stories of this zone. The panic and fear welled up in my empty stomach and left my parched throat sour and sore. I grabbed a small branch and secured my landing with a burly rope tied on the raft. The frogs became silent all at once as I sat still and listened, the only sound was the heavy thumping of my heart in my tightening chest. I could feel the pressure riding up to my head and I felt the wound open as fresh blood began to stream into my left eye.
I unbuttoned my soaked shirt. My fingers ached as they quivered to find each button in the dark. I could hear the rain beginning again as its soft plops into the cove became quicker and harder eventually turning into a soft but almost musical pour. I ripped the sleeve from my discarded shirt and tied it tightly around my head to attempt to stop the flow of blood. A flash of lightning closer now, highlighted my well developed wet chest as I tried to examine it quickly for injuries during my journey. It looked clean.
I was beginning to feel some pressure in my bladder and realized that I hadn’t pissed since my trip into this hell had begun. I held on to the anchored branch and stepped onto the soft sand below. I could not help but feel dizzy and somewhat unsteady at my first step onto this place. I waited for the spinning to subside as I began to head to a small clearing in the clump of dark forest. The rain was becoming harder still as I pulled my zipper down and reached for my soft dick. It felt good to relieve myself and I shivered as I continued to pee. I closed my eyes and felt good.
Its hot breath was the first thing I felt. I didn’t recognize my own voice as I screamed in terror at the deep guttural growl in my right ear. I turned around to see nothing as I shook from the very base of my spine. I felt its breath again behind me as I turned around blindly punching at the wet air. I felt its warm spit as it drooled on my shoulder as I spun around again swinging wildly. I could not fight what I could not see. I ran. I could feel its presence behind me as the fear in my body took over. I ran faster as my boots felt like they were glued to the sand with each trodden step.
I finally got back to the raft and leapt into it hard landing on my knees. I fumbled at the secure knot as I wanted to be free of this place, this zone. I could hear it coming even through the steady pounding of the rain. I heard it scream. I could not see what I was doing as my fingers continued their struggle to untie the knot. I pulled. I pulled as hard as I could, but it would not break free! I felt an unrecognizable moan escape my diaphragm as I was punched by a force in my stomach. The momentum lifted me backwards face up half into the water of the cove. I tried to catch my breath and rolled over to get up as I felt tiny sharp biting on my hands under the water. I pulled my hands quickly out of the water and they were covered in blood. I reached for the rope as it tumbled free of the branch. The turbulent water pulled me from the gray shore. I heard it scream again.
I was heaving deeply as I wanted to fill my aching lungs with air. I looked to the sky as I sucked in water and sky as I choked. My hands were now throbbing as I fumbled at the bottom of the raft looking for my tossed shirt to stop the bleeding. I yelled in pain as my hand hit a hard metal box of some kind. It felt about as large as a shoebox and I wondered how I didn’t see it before. I swallowed my own bile as I fumbled to open the box…