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Day 1, August 30th

As I made my way through the forest to seek shelter from the impending danger that was closing in on me, I watched as the trees swallowed my shadow, thus putting me in a small sanctuary… for now, at least. And sorry, I got a bit sidetracked there for a second. My name is Raymond, but my friends and partners called me Ray.

But what was I running from, you may ask? I honestly didn't know exactly what it was, but what I knew was that my allies told me of an unknown creature who roamed the land murdering whatever of our men it sees, leaving a path of destruction everywhere it went. All that was recurring in every tale I’ve heard of it was that it was wearing purple upon its body. Its origin had remained unknown and it wasn’t seen often, but the threat of something mysterious was there, as I hadn't seen many of my old friends anymore. They had all disappeared, one by one, and we presumed them dead. While we grieved the losses, I do my best to press on forward and I’m always thankful that I haven't had any encounters with the mysterious creature.

I would say that I’m a humble guy, just trying to live my boring and simple life. I had gotten a job as part of a militia for a short man who said he would pay handsomely if friends of mine came to do some work for him. I didn’t know much about him or his intentions, but my friends coaxed me into joining him and we got many others involved. My employer, who practiced… well, I’ll just say “black arts,” told us we were stationed here for a siege on the forest, and possibly even the entire glade we lived in. It sounded good to me, since I’d been doing nothing else at that moment in time. I had wondered what he would do with us after that, and whether we would still be around and under his command. In the meantime, though, I was stuck guarding over a cave, like many of my friends had been for some time. It was protected by a black substance with a bloodshot eye on it, and inside was a cage holding little pink animals that we’d kidnapped. I wished that I’d been chosen to be one of the men who work alongside him in his factory, because I’d heard stories about them getting more work to do and getting paid more, but figured it only made sense to start small and work my way up.

 Today, unlike normal days, where I would sit around and torture the little yellow light bugs or whatever they're called trying my best to pass the time, my stationary partner, Bill, who’d been stationed in a part of the woods in the opposite direction, came to warn me of the "Thing in Purple", which is what we called it. 

“Ray, there’s a monster coming after us! I was just sitting around, minding my own business, and I saw this creepy looking thing just start running towards me. I had no idea what it was, or what it was doing, but I think it’s chasing me, man! Get out while you still can!” he said, while shaking me.

At first, I wasn’t too terrified, and I highly doubted his word. He’s never been too trustworthy, as he occasionally lied to get out of duty and go slack off. Plus, he gave me no details about the creature, so I took his words with a grain of salt. Having only heard rumors of it personally, I didn’t even know if it existed or not. I was never one to believe in many stories without evidence, because I’ve always been a bit skeptic. I shoved him off of me and told him right then and there, “You’re full of it, you paranoid idiot. You really think that thing exists? It was probably just a stupid animal or something like that. You’re just overreacting. Get back to your station.”

He told me, “I’m not being paranoid! There’s really something out there, I swear, scout’s honor!”

I said right back, “You aren’t going to fool me with that trick like you always do to avoid work. Get back to your post, before someone sees you’re missing and we get in trouble.”

“What’s the point of standing there in the first place?”

“I… I don’t know. All I know is your fantasy creatures can’t get you out of work every time.”

But right at that very moment, we’d heard a loud scream in the distance of the expansive trees and could identify it as Darrell, who was my best friend and had warned me of the creature as well just a couple of days ago. After his yell, the forest got quiet very quickly. Nothing to be heard, no light bugs, no animals, nothing.

But then, we heard the sound of hurried footsteps, coming straight towards us.

Bill cried, “Every man for himself!” and he disappeared into the depths of the forest.

I would have called him a coward for running away, but I ran as far away as I could too, unsure of how to face whatever menace was approaching. Once I heard Darrell’s ear piercing cry, I knew I was alone, and he was gone forever. He’d been my best friend through the worst and best of times, and his loss added to my now devastated feelings. Things began to worsen as I realized how everything looked so similar and I quickly figured out that I was lost. And worse still, I was vulnerable to the creature, or whatever it was out there. I was angry, and scared. I knew I had to find a safer place to hide but my anger wouldn't let me. I was enraged at the loss of my friend and the only thoughts that were on my mind now were of vengeance. So I devised a way to ambush it and make it pay for its crimes and my losses. My plan was simple, to just jump out and beat it to death with my club.

I waited for any sign of it. I had almost fallen asleep waiting for it to come, until suddenly I encountered something. Or rather, it encountered me. When I had finally laid eyes on it, it looked stranger than I could have imagined. It had strange colored hair, maybe yellow orange; a strangely large nose, just strange, well, everything. I couldn't really describe it all too well myself, since I hadn’t seen it before, and my fatigue was starting to get to my mind, so don’t rely on my description. I jumped out and tried attacking it until I felt something touching my back. Somehow, a detached hand had managed to sneak up behind me. No blood, none at all, just a floating, small, white hand. I swung in its direction to attack, but it was too fast and moved away from it. I was put to the ground once it hit me and was out cold.


Day 2, August 31st

I was lucky to have survived from the attack. I guess the creature, whatever it was, fled the scene thinking I'd die like the rest did, but I guess it didn't do the job well enough. For some reason the creature wasn't built to be too threatening. I didn't see any limbs on it, like I said before, but maybe it was because I was still tired from waiting it out for my original plan. That or it was too fast for me. For all I know, it was just a dream. Or maybe it was a hallucination…

Maybe, just maybe, it was a normal occurrence. Strange and bizarre things are always happening in this forest, like how my employer practices his “black arts,” so a floating hand is nothing short of surprising. Being my skeptical self, though, I kept thinking about what was happening.

I figured I'd go back to my regular duty of guarding the forest for the siege… for now, at least. I picked up my hat and found a new place to stay for a bit and settled there. My boss wasn't really specific about his goal outside of just guarding some caves here. It made me wonder and think about what was really going on. Amidst my thoughts, I ended up falling asleep yet again, as I hadn’t gotten much sleep in the past week.

My dreams were very… awkward to say the least. I tossed and turned on them, wondering what my fate would be, and whether I'd ever find that creature again. Where I come from, dreaming is powerful, some more than others. I knew mine didn't really matter much. Or so I thought. I never really questioned them much, and this time is no different. I dreamt I was in the woods once again, face to face with the creature. I fought it head on, and right when I was about to defeat it with a whack from my club, I woke up. My guess is that this was just me once again wishing vengeance for my lost friends. I disregarded it quickly, so not to be too focused on it.

As I awoke, I found myself in an unfamiliar part of the forest. The ambiance and silence of the seclusion was killing me. I felt lonely, of course, and adjusted to the sounds I was now starting to hear. Everything from the animals, to the little yellow creatures, to the streams, it all sounded so clear to me. It was soothing; yet hypnotizing. But right at the moment I was about to truly take it all in I heard a rustling in the bushes nearby. I slowly moved closer towards it, unaware of what could happen to me next. I readied my club and pushed back the bushes, only to find that there was nothing.

As I calmed myself, I sat on another rock, and thought more about my dream and the small scare I’d just had. I asked myself, “Am I being watched…?” It had begun to run through my mind now. But after a few minutes, I figured it was just my paranoia getting the best of me, like before. As I walked along, trying to find my way back to my other companions I left behind, I figured it best to find something to eat and drink. I haven’t had any sort of meal for a couple of days. All this hunger had probably fueled my hallucinations and paranoia, and maybe even my strange dream. But for the time being, I had found some fruit in a tree, where another strange creature was. It had a rather large red beard and no real visible appendages. It seemed to be sleeping while smoking on some sort of pipe, so I figured it best not to bother it in fear of confrontation. I took as much fruit as my arms could carry and made my way back to where I was before. As I kept walking I eventually saw some familiar faces and thought we could get back to normal again… but sadly, I was wrong…

At this point I had seen my comrades. Or thought I did. But, it turned out to be yet another hallucination. I started looking around for any signs of life, but still, I found nothing. I walked through the forest and passed by nothing more but trees and rocks and felt like giving up. At this point, I long doubted I’d find my way back to my friends. Everything started looking the same, everything started getting more and more familiar, and everything just… lacked any real variety where I was, wherever that is. I hung my head low in despair. It had been a few hours since I last saw any signs of life, and even then, it was that giant bearded creature. For all I knew that thing wasn’t even real. My only real questions here were “what’s real anymore? Who can I trust?” I remember not too long ago, I could answer that…

It started to get cold as the moon’s light started to rise into the sky. I looked for some shelter to stay for the night. I quickly came across a cave that was covered with a black substance that had a bloodshot eye on it. It looked exactly like one of the caves I had been guarding before, and I knew that in order to open it, I’d have to hit the creature’s eye. I hit it, and it quickly disappeared as the eye turned red and fell to the ground while the black substance disappeared into thin air. I began to explore the cave. Inside there was a little cage that looked like it was holding some other creature. Emphasis on was. Since there was nowhere else to go, I figured I’d spend the night in the cave. With some hope that maybe I’d be closer to some of my old comrades and get things back to normal, I laid my head on the ground and proceeded to drift off to sleep.

Day 3, September 1st

When I’d awoken this morning, I found myself once again thirsty and hungry. Customary, as I hadn’t had a decent meal since the incident. I didn’t really see myself as making the cave I found a new home, as I wanted to continue on forward until I found my way back. I may have lost some hope, but I wasn’t ready to stop yet. I quickly happened upon some fruit and picked as many as I could carry. I figured it best to ration them to help last longer. My drowsiness continued as I kept walking along. The woods were still the same green they always were, but as I kept going, the scene had started changing more and more. I observed the plants and happened upon a lake with water! I finally found some damn water! This part of the woods had a few lakes, much more than the last part did, and pleasantly enough to enjoy. I drank it and was finally starting to look up on my current situation, despite how hopeless I’d seemed. As I kept going on through the forest, I saw less and less of the same old green I’d seen before and more of the beautiful forest. “So lush and vibrant,” I thought to myself.  I’d wondered where this part of the forest had been my whole life and why I hadn’t ever noticed it before. I almost wanted to stay there forever, just to escape all my problems…

While I was here, I started to think about the dreams that I’d had last night. They were of my employer and what could happen if he managed to take over the forest. I had recalled seeing more of us around, occupying the lands, torturing the little yellow creatures, and even seeing my old friends again. This gave me hope that maybe, there’s a bright future for me down the road. I kept on walking until I saw some more trees and a fork in the path. I tried to piece together which way I should go.

That is, until I heard a rustling in the trees near where I was. It came from the right side of the fork in the path, and I immediately jumped to attention. I figured I’d simply fight it. As I approached them, my club ready to strike, I heard nothing. Not one single sound muttered from it. I felt a bit confused by this, as just a second ago I’d heard the sound of something in the trees. But sadly, nothing was there. I wondered whether this was all another dream or not. It was now that I decided I couldn’t trust anything anymore, and that it was no longer safe for me no matter where I went. Over the past couple of days since the incident with the “Thing in Purple,” I’ve been feeling like I’m being… watched. I didn’t know who or what it was watching me, but I just knew that I had to have been watched by something of some kind. This striking paranoia had been put to rest for a bit, but I knew I couldn’t have constant peace of mind. My head ached as I thought harder about what could be going on. My brain was like a stage, and I was just a puppet having my strings pulled. I knew for a while I’d been running from something, but I had no clue what. Maybe… just maybe I was running from myself. I’d felt that way for a while now, because I saw nothing threatening me until now. I was still pretty skeptical as to whether the “Thing in Purple” was real itself. I felt like my sanity slowly dwindled away, provided it had ever been there. I wished I could sit and think about things, think about what has happened to get to this point, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t put the pieces together. It was almost useless to try, I imagine. I decided with what was left of my wits at this point that I’d probably never find my way back home, especially with where I was now. It was hopeless, I realized, my eyes must be playing tricks on me. I had no idea what to believe anymore, it all seemed so confusing. I had been at peace at one moment and gone to hell at another.

It was at this moment that I’d heard a loud scream, followed by random gibberish that had sounded like someone had yelled “YEAH!” at the top of their lungs. I cringed in fear, unbeknownst of what was to happen next. I quickly let out a loud scream of terror and started running away as fast as I could, only to hear more indiscernible screams chase after me. Now I knew I was being hunted. By what, I didn’t know, nor did I want to know. All I knew was that I started to run, and fast.

Epilogue

I chased him and watched him as he fell onto the ground and lay there like the little wench he was. He’d dropped whatever book he’d been carrying, and then yelled out over and over to me, “Please, creature, have mercy on me! I don’t want to die, not now! Please, I… I just want to live to see another day; I’ll do anything, ANYTHING!” I waited, and watched him in his moment of pity and anguish. I stayed silent, and thought, “Sad how disappointing he was. It is a pity, a true pity, to see. He thought he would take me down, that he was so high and mighty, but in the end he crumbled to my feet in fear.”

I gladly finished him off and left his cold, dead body lying there, motionless. My job was to rid not only the forest, but the Glade of Dreams of these Nightmares before they took over.

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