Second chapter. The girl get lost.
Shading her eyes with a hand, the girl looked about her, taking in the colors of the stunning view that opened up before her. For a second, the sight took her breath away.
All around there unfolded majestic mountain chains, draped in the warm shades of the fall. Tossed and teased by the wind, heart-shaped leaves, stripped of their springtime colors, whirled in the valleys and scudded down hillsides. Some, spent of energy, finally came to rest, like sepia-tinted water lilies, on streams or rocky ledges, while others went on chasing the last breaths of the dying day before finally curling up in the lonely embrace of an invisible lover.
The sharp scent of green pine needles mingled with the damper smell of moss and berries. Pine cones, their scaly symmetry reminiscent of waxy honeycombs, released their winged seeds in a perfect imitation of bees in flight.
A hawk, ever watchful from on high, swooped down on the den of a busy little rodent, but failed to make a catch.
The girl followed its rapid descent and heard its screech of disappointment; she could almost feel the rapid heartbeat of the tiny animal as it scurried away, disappearing into a maze of underground tunnels.
“What a beautiful sky…” she murmured.
Her words came unbidden — a reflex reaction. Never before had her senses been touched by such a sight; she was transfixed by the riotously colorful flora, like a terrestrial sunset, and the intense blue that chased away the distant white clouds.
She felt moved by her own brief utterance, it gave her a sense of being part of the nobility of creation, as though her very essence were dissolved in the sky. Although unable to properly define the sensation that gripped her, she rejoiced in it.
She took a few steps, hesitantly, afraid that the first sound of a human presence might break the spell of this natural idyll. She was cold and needed to find something to put on. She walked around a rocky outcrop: without knowing why, she had the feeling, for a moment, that she would find clothes behind it. She remembered nothing at all. Her mind was a clean page, like that of a child stepping for the first time into a wonderful library and desperately wanting to put his newly acquired reading skills to the test. She did not know where to go and she had no possessions. It was just her, and nature; she was a new Eve, moving delicately through the iridescent natural world like a fish through a coral reef.
She stepped out of the shade of a fir tree to seek warmth in a pool of sunlight. But the light was cold, and, as she made her way along a path, it seemed to get paler and paler. After crossing a dry stream, she noticed a strange flickering on the horizon, like electrical interference. Brushing a lock of red hair from her eyes, she gazed at the outline of the mountains. The image became blurred as though veiled in the tremulous air of a tremendous heatwave. The girl blinked and looked harder, advancing a few steps until she found herself standing on the edge of a cliff. An electrical interference, emitting a harsh sound and acting like a cutter, traced a square shape in the sky. The square opened and its outline became the perimeter of a hole of white light, from which an iron ladder descended.
Without warning the sky went black and the mountains disappeared in thick darkness. With horror, the girl realized that her senses had deceived her and she was actually still trapped in the underground complex where she had first awoken. Gripped by a sudden fear of the dark she rushed forwards; the void beyond the cliff edge had morphed into a strange rubbery surface: she ran across it and grabbed hold of the ladder.
Climbing to the top, she finally reached the outside — the real outside.
She stood in the middle of a dense, ghostly white fog. She shuddered. The ladder had clearly long been exposed to the cold and damp; it had left traces of rust on her hands and feet.
The girl took a few steps, leaving the ladder behind her. The ground beneath her bare feet was rough and rocky, and it hurt to walk on. Proceeding gingerly, she heard two voices drawing nearer.
“I remember, it was here.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I tell you, the ladder was right here. It was the fog that confused me before. ”
They were men’s voices; the first was young and rather high-pitched, while the other, coarse-sounding, was that of an older man.
The girl did not know what to do. She felt completely disoriented by the fog, and also terribly cold.
With the innocence of one who knows nothing of man’s capacity for evil, she decided that perhaps the men might be able to help her.
“Over here, I remember now” said the younger man.
“You’d better be right” sighed his companion.
The girl heard a crunching on the path ahead of her and a second later found herself face to face with the two men. They had come to a stop, and were staring at her, their pupils round with astonishment.
“Excuse me, but I don’t know where I am. I woke up and I was in a kind of machine…, down there. I don’t remember a thing. I… I need your help.”
The two men exchanged a glance. The older one, a baldish type with sparse, greasy white hair, gave a greedy smile.
“You can count on that. You just come along with us, and we’ll explain everything” he said. He made a move towards her, his gaze trained on her genitals.
“Thank you… but I…”
Alarmed by the man’s bestial expression, the girl
backed off. The younger one, who carried a large black hessian backpack slung over his shoulder, stepped away from his companion, as though wanting to block off her escape route.
“Don’t be frightened, everything’s in hand.”
The older man was like a wolf drooling before a kid.
“I don’t…” began the girl, turning to run.
In a flash, the young man pounced, throwing her to the ground. The stones, wet and jagged, grazed her elbows.
“Old before young! She’s mine first,” gasped the older man, pushing his companion aside and seizing her by the arms.
The girl struggled to get free, screaming with all the force she could muster.
“Shut her up!”
The young man turn her over roughly and clapped his palm firmly over her mouth. The other man was already unbuttoning his faded pants.
“It’s just as well I brought you with me, boy, this is our lucky day!”
Violently her forced the girl’s legs apart and began to force himself on her.
Ruthlessly the two men took turns to have their brutal way with her as she lay sprawled on the cold, razor-sharp rocks. The pain rose inside her; violated to the core, she gasped for breath. She was trapped, suspended in the savage torment of a terrible dream; this was an act so wicked it simply could not be for real. Her desire to wake up was every bit as intense as the desire written on the faces of the two men, and yet, at the same time, a dawning awareness, until then buried in the very depths her innocent being, began to tell that this was, in fact, the real world, and that she would never be able to leave it.
There would be no second re-awakening.
All of a sudden she saw things as they really were, in all their primitive essence. She saw the darkness and cruelty that, like a worm, inhabits the hearts of men and destroys everything from within.
But she found herself unable to find words for any of it: the men’s despicable deed, the fire in their eyes, their teeth clenched in the grimace of orgasm, the impulse of the flesh. And yet, as they continued to maul her and reality gradually retreated in the mist that surrounded her, the girl, sinking into unconsciousness, could not help clinging onto the memory of the beautiful world she had seen earlier. Filled with the same joy as before, she murmured: “An illusion… such a beautiful illusion…”.