"Okay then," I say. "Let's get going."

I turn around to find that the river is gone. I guess that was part of the illusion. Well, it's better than having to find a way around it. As I start to walk forward, I hear Ludice speak.

"Wait," he says. "Shouldn't we shake on it?"

"Ludice," I say while turning back to look at him, "when we first shook hands, it was because you were pretending to be something you're not. I don't want our journey to start off with something like that. It doesn't suit us."

"Well then, what should we do?"

"We don't need to do anything. We trust each other; that should be enough."

"Well, okay. But I want you to know that no matter what, I've got your back."

"And I've got yours," I say, smiling at him. "Now let's go. Freedom won't find itself."

I turn forward and start walking, Ludice following behind me. He soon catches up and we're walking side by side through the dark forest.

"So," Ludice begins, "where are we trying to find freedom anyway?"

"I… don't know, to be honest," I reply. "I'm not really sure where we might end up, but anywhere is better than here."

"Oh."

Ludice stays silent for a while. As we keep on walking I try to think of something to say. Pretty soon I realize that there really isn't anything to talk about. I hope that if we just keep moving we'll find what we're looking for eventually.

Then I hear Ludice yawn.

Wait, what?

I stop walking.

"Ludice," I say, "did you just yawn?

"Yeah," he replies. He stops walking and turns to face me. He looks confused. "I feel really weird right now."

"Are you… tired?"

"I think I might be." He's starting to look a bit uneasy.

"I thought you didn't need sleep."

"I don't! I've never even slept before! Do you think it's because we're getting further away from the house? What if I fall asleep and don't wake up?"

Ludice looks terrified. Has he worried about this before?

This is freaking me out. I remind myself not to panic.

"Ludice, calm down," I say.

"Calm down!?" he shrieks. "I could be dying! They could be doing something to make me fall asleep and then when I'm asleep they might send something to attack us! If I fall asleep I'll slow us down and you might have to leave me behind!"

I grab him by his shoulders.

"Ludice," I say more calmly than I feel. "That isn't going to happen. I don't know why you're tired. But I do know that I'm not leaving you behind. Ever. We're in this together and I'm not about to abandon you over something this insignificant."

He looks at me, fear still clear in his expression.

"Do you really mean that?" he asks.

"Of course," I reply. "We're in this together. So please, calm down. You're just tired and it's not a big deal. We'll just find a place to rest for a bit."

"Okay," Ludice says. It looks like he's finally calming down.

Now we just need to find a place to rest.

"We should probably get off this path if we want to rest somewhere," I say.

I look over into the thicker part of the forest and see a small spot where the trees aren't too thick.

"That spot over there should do."

I look at Ludice and he just nods. He's probably still a bit upset. We both walk over to the spot and sit down. He looks nervous.

"I-I've never fallen asleep before," he says. "Does it hurt?"

"No, no, not at all," I say, surprised. "You won't even notice that you've fallen asleep. Just lie down and close your eyes."

"All of them?"

"Yes."

"Okay."

He lies down and closes his eyes like I told him.

"Like this?" he asks.

"Yeah," I reply. "Now you just wait and you'll be asleep before you know it."

"What if I don't wake up?"

"You'll wake up. Trust me."

He's silent. I eventually hear his breathing slow down to a calm rhythm. He's asleep.

I'm starting to feel a bit tired too. I probably shouldn't sleep though, just in case something happens. I fight off sleep for a while before my eyelids grow too heavy and the world goes dark.

I was in a room, reading. A woman walked in.

"You've been in here all day," she said. "Go outside."

"But there's nothing to do outside," I complained.

"Yes there is, you're just being lazy. Go to the park. Take your book and read it there if you want, just go out and get some fresh air. You could use some sun too. You've gotten so pale from staying in the house all the time."

"Fine."

I got up, went to the front door and slipped on my shoes. Still holding my book, I turned the door handle.

"Bye mom," I said, as I opened the door and walked out into a bright light.

I wake up.

What was that? I was in some house. But it wasn't like the house I was in before. And that woman. I called her… mom? Was she really my mother? I don't know. I can't remember my mother at all. But that woman seemed so familiar. How strange…

Wait, what about Ludice? I look around quickly. Breathing a sigh of relief, I see that he's right where he was when I fell asleep. Good. Maybe I should wake him up. It would be best to keep moving if we can.

I crawl over to him. I shake his shoulder.

"Ludice," I say. "It's time to wake up."

He makes a small groaning noise. His top two eyes slowly open.

"Am I alive?" he asks.

"Of course you are," I say bluntly.

"Oh. Good," he says opening his other eyes.

"We should get going."

"Right."

We both stand up and I grab my bag. We both start walking back to the path. As we reach it, Ludice speaks.

"Man, that whole sleeping thing works. I feel way better now."

"You're saying that now?" I say, amused. "You weren't so sure about it before."

"Well, I had never fallen asleep before, how was I supposed to know?"

"Also, when we were still at the house, you were the one always telling me that I needed sleep to work properly."

"That's because I knew you needed it. I didn't. Sleep is still pretty strange though."

"How do you mean?"

"I saw things. Like a film, but I was in it."

"That's a dream, Ludice."
"Oh."

"What happened in it?"

"Well, it was really weird. I was lying in a bed. I tried to get up but I couldn't move at all. There was this guy standing next to me. He was wearing these weird clothes and it looked like he was whispering something, but I couldn't hear what. Then it was over."

"Woah. That sounds ominous. It probably didn't mean anything though."

"It felt so real though. As though it was something that had happened to me before. Everything felt so familiar. Have you ever dreamt of anything like that?"

"Well, actually, when I fell asleep I dreamed of some woman. I called her mom, but that couldn't be right. I don't even remember who my mother is, so how would I dream about her?"

"I don't know. Wait, do you hear that?"

I did hear it. It sounds like some sort of screeching noise. It's awful. I cover my ears.

"What is that?" I ask, not really expecting Ludice to know. I look back on the path. There's something moving in the dark. It looks like…

"The creature from the river!" I say. "It's back!"

"And it looks like he's got help," Ludice says, sounding terrified.

He's right. There are two more creatures just like it, all scaly and flying towards us, ready to attack.

"Run!" I yell.

We both start running as fast as we can. I can see an exit! As we run towards it and then out of the forest, we both have to stop.

There's nowhere left to run.

We're on the edge of a cliff. The ground looks so far away from us.

"What do we do?" Ludice says. "They're going to catch us!"

I pause for a second. I think of something crazy.

"We should jump," I say.

Ludice looks at me in shock.

"Are you crazy?" he says in disbelief. "How would that help?"

"I don't know, but anything is better than being caught by those things!"

I can hear them getting closer!

"We'll never survive a fall like that!"

"I'd rather die than deal with them! We've come this far and I'm not giving up now!"

The creatures fly out of the forest.

I won't let them get me.

I run toward the cliff edge and jump off.

I hear Ludice yelling as I fall.

"ALEX!" he screams, as I plummet down.

What did he just say? Alex?

As I keep falling, the world goes dark once again.