We went back, Damien and I, back to the strange section of forest. Meeting him took some time; I had to navigate back to a familiar location for both us and then lead him to the school. Considering my… newness to this process we had to return to his parent’s house several times before I successfully got him there.
When we finally arrived I realized something was different. While the trees still writhed and twisted, and the blackened landscape warped to impossible shapes there was a sort of heaviness it hadn’t possessed when I’d first been there. I didn’t think much of it though, the Astral Plane is a strange place filled with all manner of foreign sensations. Damien led me through the thorny walls that changed constantly until we appeared at the source of the oddness. Or at least what I assume was the source.
Beyond our obstructions stood a sort of tear. It wasn’t physical or even explicitly visible, but on approach I felt something… it was sudden, a shifting downwards. The sensation was like that of an unexpected drop, and then an increase in the gravity that already affected this place. And moving closer I started to see another place overlaid onto the Astral world… a place of color over this shadowed land.
Damien pushed me through the rift. It wasn’t a physical push but a mental one… spiritual maybe, I’m not sure, but I know that through the other side I was granted the view of a snow covered landscape and orchid splintered skies. Massive trees stood before me, charcoal and crystalline silver, their long branches billowed down to the ground like arms stretched complete with gaping hands. A path cut between these great monoliths, illuminated by floating spheres of grey light, and branching off into several others. I stood at the boundary for some time, both in wonder of this world and in wait of Damien’s arrival. Damien never came through though; something had gone wrong and he never appeared into this world with me.
I pressed on without him. The main path through Oneiros lengthened with every my step forward forcing me onto one of the forest’s unlit backpaths. The forest grew malicious in darkness. Suddenly trees clustered, forcing me from the trail and roots sprang forth from the snow covered earth, grasping my ankles and bring me to the ground. But I continued through numerous falls and an ever increasing weight on my body. I pushed aside patches of nail-like thorns and climbed through icy brooks until I found the path’s grey light again.
Through the wood I returned back to the main path, and I stared in awe of what I saw before me. One great giant monstrous tree that stood higher than I could even conceive… if not for the vast canopy of leaves and branches over head I’d have not thought it ever stopped. And springing forth from this… this Yggdrasil’s roots rose seven more towers of bark. Each of these spires could easily contain several of the smaller trees within their scorched walls.
I ran towards these monumental structures, and as I approached it became clear that climbing round their trunks were scaffolds to scattered branches, each of which hung lighted bodies. The tiny figures swung in empty wind, suspended by black nooses. I stared up, sick with emotion: hatred, shock, and desperation. The grey orbs climbed the trees as well, and I raced up the uneven steps to the tree’s first gallow.
The children didn’t hang from a noose, rather a slim and tendril vine. It wrapped all about their frame holding them to the tree. I traversed the branches pulling the small bodies up one by one, looking upon their tiny faces. They looked so sad. Their eyes stood open, but just barely with a sleepy stare, they seemed not to understand where they were or even my presence. I pulled them all up and continued to another branch, and another and another and another, halting every child’s hanging. I was searching for the boy of course and preparing the rest, far more than I knew I could handle, to be released on my way back down. Twelve branches high I found him, we were then high above the ground, I pulled him up like all the others and then pulled gently on the vine strung around him.
Behind me something shone. I turned in surprise and was blinded by a great white light; my mind filled with a sense of panic and turned back to the boy’s enwrapped body now violently struggling to undo his bindings. With some luck I managed to pull the black vine from him and lifted him up, we started our run down the scaffolds, me leading his obedient shell. At the bottom branch it appeared. The Slenderman. It charged toward me, radiating… something, it wasn’t anger but something so much rawer, the first physical sensation I’d felt since entering this place. I fucking ran, dragged that boy with me and ran as fast as possible. It’s aura though, it brought the full wrath of gravity on me. Like trying to run in knee deep water I simply couldn’t move fast enough… and then I felt a jerk and heard noise for the first time.
A scream. The boy’s scream. It pierced the whole world.
The beautiful pink sky cracked at his shriek, and the color momentarily vanished leaving me in utter darkness lessened only by the distant orbs. I looked back… and through the boy poked an ebon lance. It parted into two black arms and ripped him into two. There was no gore, no blood, no body even; he just let out a final primal cry and evaporated into a flurry of snow. I jerked away and ran towards the lightened path… but then… no. I turned around and dashed to the closest tree. I came in here to save the boy and as a result caused his end but I refused to leave empty handed. I’d decided in that second that I’d save someone… or I wouldn’t leave.
Dashing up the stairway of my second tree I caught sight of the light that had blinded me before. On each trunk had spawned a thousand shining eyes, each silver and sideways, all of various size. I climbed the trunk to the first branch, chased by the Slenderman all the way. I pulled up the first body I found, stamping on her wrapping, and grabbed her in both arms. I turned and he blocked my escape. He left me only one choice.
I leapt. I jumped from that high up branch, hoping… praying that we’d survive. We shouldn’t have, it was much too high, at least sixty feet above the ground… and maybe that’s why we did. In dreams people rarely die, usually the impact or shock will awaken them. Even still my last act in that world was to wrap my body around hers for fear that I was wrong… to shield her sleeping body from the fall.
I woke up, eyes fuzzy but I felt the girl in my arms… and then, then somebody came over and dragged her away. I stood up and tried to tackle them but they moved out of my path, so I ran to the door bolting it and blocking their escape. They ran into Henry’s room and locked the door. I slammed into it trying to knock it down, screaming bloody fucking murder and threatening to kill whoever the fuck it was in there. And then I heard the window open. I heard the clanging of bodies out on the fire escape. I ran out to balcony armed with a vase… the closest thing of any weight I could find. By then though my eyes had cleared and I realized it was Henry escaping with the girl… that he was trying to save her from me…
I dropped the vase letting it shatter on the hardwood and just fell to the floor. I won’t lie; I spent about ten minutes there on the floor weeping. Crying that my friend felt a need to save the girl from me, that she was out there now where he could get her again despite all my efforts, that despite everything I’d still failed, that the boy got ripped to shreds and now I couldn’t even properly protect the one I’d saved in his place.
And then. Then realization struck. Henry was out there with that girl and it wasn’t going to stand for what I’d done. That Henry was in danger now as well. I tried to call him but got no response so I put up that other post of mine, the one pleading him to stay off the streets and to let me explain. I can only hope now that he listens.