The last thing I saw was a black masked figure standing in front of me and then everything went black. When I awoke, I was alone in a strange deserted forest. As my head cleared, I began to remember what had happened.
-"Not again!" I muttered. Suddenly the strange forest seemed more familiar. It was the place I kept returning every time the black masked people caught me. Slowly I looked around, though I knew I didn't have to. Around me were seven different paths to choose from, six of which I had already tried and failed, leaving me with one last chance to leave this deranged world which I had been brought to.
I took off, slowly at first, down the dark, uninviting trail. Then, after a few moments I quickened my pace after hearing the crunch of leaves behind me. I knew that almost any human contact could lower my chances of winning the game the masks played. This game was like no ordinary video or computer game. It was a game of life or death matter. You can survive or start over till it drives you to the point where you no longer wish to live. Believe me, after the first attempt to return, at getting back to my own world and reality, I knew that the only way back would be beating the game and only this path would lead me closer to my goal.
The path, in which I travelled, was winding and rocky, filled with bushes and trees. My light brown hair was tied into a high ponytail to try to keep it out of my blue green eyes. Those eyes searched meaningfully through the rough terrain, looking for any signs of the horrible masked creatures that had abducted me from my happy home and had brought me into this horrible competition. I had no idea why they had brought me here but I assumed that they enjoyed torturing humans and watching them suffer. I was indeed suffering.
Suddenly, I was awakened from my daydreaming by the rustle of leaves right behind me. I turned so quickly that I stumbled into the figure behind me. Scrambling up, I came face to face with a young man a few years older than my own fifteen years. He stared at me with light sea blue eyes through a layer of cheekbone length black hair.
-"Hello?" I mumbled, weary from the walk. He didn't answer; instead he turned his back to me and walked slowly off the path into the unfriendly looking forest. Through my adventures here in this world, I had learned that the residents here would cause nothing but trouble when crossed, but I had a deep down feeling that I should follow him. So against my better judgement, I walked off the path and followed his movements through the trees until I could no longer see him. There I was, stranded in the middle of an unfamiliar patch of the woods, alone and far away from the path that I was travelling on earlier. A faint dark hum sounded around me. With every step I took it got louder until it was almost deafening and once again the world went black.
I awoke to the darkness and the sounds of the forest. The feeling in my head was all too familiar. It was the feeling I had every time the masked ones had caught me and brought me back to the crossing of the paths.
-"No, not again!" I practically screamed thinking that I was back at the beginning again. After a few moments of lying on the ground, I noticed that I was not alone. A few meters away, lying with his eyes closed, was the young man I had seen earlier on the path. Thinking I could creep away without waking him, I slowly and quietly stood up. His eyes snapped open. Without moving he muttered in his deep voice,
-"You should not wander alone in these woods. I can't always save you!"
-"What are you talking about?" I asked uncertainly
-"The masks almost caught you!" he answered as he stood up stiffly from the ground's bed.
-"What do you know about the masks?" I asked, "Who are you anyway?"
-"I know a lot more about them then you do. I know about their game too. As for me, I am just another victim of their cruelty as are you and the rest of the population of this world. They have tried and failed this game, so few have made it out of here. The rest have given up and will live here for eternity. I am one of the few that keeps trying to leave but it's hard when those who have failed continuously betray you."
-"If all the people here are victims of the masked ones, then why don't they help you get out of here. Why do they betray you?" I asked confused.
-"They believe that if they can not make it out of here themselves, no one should." He answered as he gathered wood for a fire. I had no response to that. I knew he was right, it was probably human nature. Slowly I walked towards him.
-"Do you need help with anything?" I asked hopefully. He handed me the logs and sticks that he had collected.
-"Put them by the fire pit." He ordered. I slowly carried them to the place that he had pointed out. Soon after, we had a bright gleaming fire cackling in the pit. The young man left for a while only to return with two large trout. He cooked them over the open flame and served them. Though they weren't fancy or decorated, they tasted wonderful. After the tasty food the young man prepared to leave.
-"Where are you going?" I asked,
-"If we don't keep moving the masked ones will find us." He replied as if it were obvious, "Are you coming? You know I can't just leave you here and I'm not going to drag you!"
-"Yes I'm coming." I answered firmly.
We walked in silence for what felt like forever until I couldn't stand it.
-"What's you name?" I asked
-"Conor." He said and after a few moments he asked, "And yours?"
-"Deleya." I replied. We continued our conversation further.
-"You said there were few who had not given up on the game," She pointed out, "Who else do you know that hasn't quit?"
-"Well, you." He muttered unhappily, "I have seen many come here and I have tried to help them but they all ended up giving up. You are the only one who's…" the rustle of leaves behind us interrupted him. We both turned. Behind us were the very people we feared the masks.
-"On three, we run." Muttered Conor quietly, barely loud enough for me to hear, "You go left and I'll go right. I'll meet you at Orland. Okay? One, Two, Three"
At the signal we both turned in opposite directions and ran. I ran as fast as I could. After every few paces I looked behind only to find the masked ones as close behind me as they were every other time I checked. Naturally not all of them were there, only about half of them, the rest, I assumed were following Conor.
My breath was coming in rasps, I could hardly breathe. I knew I had to stop. I chanced one last glance at the masked ones and found that they were no longer behind me. Finally a chance to breathe. I stopped gasping for breath; I was safe at last.
When I had finally regained my breath, I walked north towards the village Orland that was just in sight. During our previous conversation, Conor had told me where it was. I voyaged quickly through the practically unpopulated village without sight of him.
-Perhaps he hasn't made it yet, his way would be longer, I thought. I made camp in an abandoned barn that night. The next day there was still no sign of him. Either he still had not made it to the village or the masked ones had found him. The thought frightened me. If they hadn't found him yet I knew he'd need my help. So I ran back into the forest in the opposite direction I had come from. I hoped that was where Conor would be. After running a short distant, I changed my pace to a quick walk and walked for around a half-hour before I saw him. He was surrounded by the masked ones and was almost begging for mercy. Just as one of the masked ones reached over to send him back I screamed.
-"No! You can't take him" I ran over and grabbed the nearest stick I could find and began hitting the masked one. Then they disappeared leaving only Conor, myself and a masked one in the forest. Before disappearing, the masked one said,
-"Well done Deleya. You have made it to the next level."