It was that time of the year again. Cycling West and the Sun piercing my eyes while it set in a glow of bronze and purple. I squinted while I kept my eyes on the road. A dark car rushed passed me, nearly hitting me while it changed back to its lane. Stupid, stupid farm, I thought, that had to be in the middle-of-nowhere tussocky fields, behind the shadows-that-could-hide-demons forest, even past the swamp-surrounding-a-lake. I felt the anger grow. Anger aimed at my Father for stubbornly continuing his farm practise while the loans stacked as crumbled paper forms in the drawer of the small cabinet in the living room and my Mother for sighing harder every morning while getting up to prepare breakfast and deepen the wrinkles around her eyes but not standing up against my Father, telling him that his way of doing business was wrong. I was sick of the weeks with watery sort-of soup meals because “we had to save for the interest”. I was sick of the numbers showing decreasing prices for meat and milk and my Father cursing that he had worked his ass off for nothing but not considering one moment to comply with those new sustainability rules so he could expand the farm. I wanted to tell him so badly!
While the anger grew, my headache from squinting grew, too, and all this drew me back inside myself, closing out dirt and pebbles at the road side, closing out the branches of young willows touching the wet soil surface of the swamp, even closing out the faint smell of water mint. The loud screech made me grasp the handles of my bike so tight I gave a little pull to my steer and dropped face down on the asphalt. My knee burnt, and my cheek as well. From the corner of my eye I saw the dark shimmering of a car, my own reflection, and more to the side a strange, pitch-black spot laying among the grass.
As the car sped past me, I tried to scramble away from the side of the road and from underneath the bike that had landed on top of me. Only when me and my bike were safely on the grass that lined the road I paused to find the black spot again. Was it my phone, or my wallet, or had I lost a shoe?! I checked my pockets. Nothing was missing. I searched for the spot. The moment I wanted to give up, I saw it again, at the edge of my vision, lingering like it was alive.
I walked closer to it, the grass brushing softly as I moved, and found myself staring down into what seemed like an endless abyss. A shiver crawled up my spine as every instinct in my body told me to walk away, but I could not. I wanted to turn, to leave, continue my way home and, if I had to, help Father repair the tractor again, but something slithered from out of the hole and coiled around my ankles. It pulled me down. My legs were dangling over the spot, that grew larger and larger. I did not see what was holding me. I dug my fingers into the dirt, seeking anchor. But whatever had gripped my legs grew stronger, more persistent. Something coiled around my arm, and then my neck. It was not warm, not cold, yet it pressed tight against my skin. Slowly, but surely, I was losing. Then, with one strong tug, I was pulled loose and fell into the abyss, whatever had coiled around me letting go. I tumbled in a darkness where I could not tell whether my eyes were open or closed.
Strangely enough, my feet reached the ground in a quite relaxed, peaceful way. As if the ground beneath me was a feathered bed. My surroundings were white and shiny, stretching into infinity. I could not distinguish a horizon, or a wall, or a roof, or whatever structure would provide me with some indication of where I was. A hand touched my shoulder.
‘Thank you for entering my sphere’, the man in the white robe said. His eyes were averted and the balls set far into their sockets, as if every moment the eyes could sink in the man’s head. ‘I have been cursed for three hundred years now, but you are the one who is going to release me.’ I recalled the tentacles and saw scratches on his wrists. As I checked my own wrists for scratches, the man said: ‘You will have to prove yourself first.’ I blinked. I should not have done that. The man was gone, leaving me in the endless white nothingness with on the white floor without any structure of pavement stones or marble tiles or even soil, and in front of me a door key, a rope, and a slingshot.