Tall, dark trees surrounded Emily as she woke. Their bare branches seemed to be reaching down towards her, grasping, flailing. She did not know where she was. It was dark and the forest that surrounded her was unfamiliar; there seemed to be nothing but trees wherever she looked. The light by which she could see seemed to be coming from nowhere. Emily had vague memories of going to bed in her home in the city; but out here, her only bed was a soft mound of moss. It was strangely warm, in this empty, silent place. This unnatural silence and the strange darkness hiding behind the trees scared her. Emily was afraid to move from where she had been sleeping; but the longer she waited, the more vulnerable she felt. She was naked. She remembered taking off her clothes before going to bed; another vague memory that did not align with her current situation.
An eerie, deep voice suddenly broke the silence. “It is okay. You can come out now.” It said. Emily blushed and covered her naked body with her hands; but there was nowhere to hide from this strong, masculine voice. “Don’t be afraid, nothing can hurt you here.” It appealed. Emily turned around, facing the direction the voice seemed to come from. The trees seemed less menacing there; their branches lush and covered with leafs. She chose to follow the warm, welcoming voice rather than fleeing into the dark row of trees. The forest lost some of its warmth as Emily left the mound of moss and strode towards the greener part of the woods. “That’s it.” The voice said. “Come to me.” A silhouette appeared between the trees ahead of her.
Emily stopped. With one arm, she covered her breasts, the hand on the other her crotch. “Who are you?” She asked. “Where am I?”
“Don’t be ashamed.” The voice said. “I am here to help you.” The silhouette moved towards her through the trees. It was a man of indistinguishable age; broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hips. His hair was long and black as the night sky, his eyes nearly as dark. He was as naked as she was, his skin was dark and stretched taut across his muscles. A tuft of dark black hair grew above his member; it was as large as only the most well-endowed of men could boast. He stepped towards her, unashamed of his nudity.
“Please.” Emily said; still frantically trying to cover her own nudity. “What’s going on?”
The man reached her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “It’s okay.” He said. “I know this must be confusing for you; but you can trust me.” He looked down into her eyes. His hands were warm and welcoming.
Looking up at this man, his naked body so close to hers, Emily felt oddly comforted. She relaxed, her arms slipping down as she gave up her effort in hiding her body from sight. It felt hypocritical to hide her nudity while he flaunted his. “What’s your name?” She asked him.
The man let go of her arms. “My name can be whatever you want it to be.” He said. “I am here only for you. I came to guide you to the other side.”
“The other side of what?” Emily asked. The man moved away from her, expecting her to follow him. “Do you really not have a name? What shall I call you then?” She called after him.
“Call me whatever you like.” The man said as he looked over his shoulder. “I am here to serve you after all.”
The man moved silently through the forest. Emily followed him hesitantly. He was the only thing she knew was real, she had felt his warm hands on her shoulders. The rest: the trees, the ground, the dark sky; it all seemed far away, somehow disconnected from the two of them and their short journey. She did not give him a name, not until she knew what he was.
The darkness changed. Light was shining somewhere up ahead. There were voices too, people moving between the trees, for now still too far for them to see her. Emily slowed, afraid of these strangers. The man she followed had led her to a dark, deep river. “They can’t see you.” The man said. “They don’t know where you are.” Emily approached the river. The others turned to watch her, but they did not come closer. She wondered if they were naked like her, but she could not see them clearly in the darkness. “You must swim across.” The man told her. “It’s the only way you can reach the other side.”
Emily reached out to touch the water. It was cold, very cold. “The other side of what?” She asked.
“The other side of everything.” The man said.