“I think we’re lost.”
“Why would you think that?” the man said to me.
His words were partially muffled by the mouse mask on his face. It reminded me of a something from a child’s costume. It was made from thin plastic with fading gray and pink paint, strapped to his head with an elastic string. The man was twice my size, easily twelve feet tall. He was wearing all-white scrubs, like a doctor. I had no idea who he was.
“We’ve been walking through this fog for hours. It feels like we are going in circles,” I spoke.
“It’s been closer to days, I believe.”
“Days? Now, I know we are lost.” I stopped walking, spinning around and looking for anything besides the thick, night fog. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen something other than the grass below my feet and the relentless fog.
“Perhaps if we hold hands you would feel more comfortable to continue,” the giant man said through his mouse mask.
He turned his hand to me, opening one black-clawed finger at a time until I looked up at his inviting palm. I place my hand in his, feeling compelled to trust him. His oversized hand swallowed mine as the malevolent-looking claws wrapped around. He squeezed just slightly and then began to lead me the way we had first been walking.
“I don’t remember seeing sunlight,” I said to him. “It feels like it’s always night here.”
“There is no sun,” he said.
We walked for what felt like another few hours until the man suddenly stopped. I looked up at him, waiting for an explanation. He said nothing but released my hand pointing forward through the fog.
“Do you want me to keep going?”
The large man nodded. His cartoon mask shifted slightly askew.
I looked forward into the fog and began walking. I could feel it covering me, swarming around. When I glanced back over my shoulder the giant man was gone, replaced by fog. I felt lonelier than ever.
My legs never seemed to tire. My eyes never got sleepy. I never felt hungry or thirsty.
Am I dead?
The thought tumbled through my head but I was never able to grab a firm hold of it. Too many other things were bouncing around in there with it. Images. Memories. They all seemed so far away. Another life maybe. I pictured a young girl smiling at me. She looked beautiful.
Did I have a daughter?
My feet knocked into something. I nearly tripped over it, regaining my balance just in time. It took me a minute to register what was lying below me.
I jumped back startled by the sight. The body didn’t move, not even a twitch.
Once I composed myself, I squatted down and placed my hand on the arm, hoping to wake whoever it was. The skin was so cold. I pulled my hand back immediately.
I looked for a head, searching for eyes to help confirm that they were deceased, but it was facing away. Carefully I grabbed onto the head and turned it to face me.
I fell backwards, flailing from the sight. There was no face.
Carved out from forehead to chin, the skin where the face should have been was taken. Cut out. Removed. A bloody mess covering the hints of a skull was all that remained. I felt sick. I turned to vomit but only dry heaved. There was nothing to puke up.
Quickly I stood to my feet and ran passed the dead, faceless body. I ran blindly into the fog, terrified that I would trip over something else just as awful. Within seconds I saw another faceless body. This one a woman, the skin of her face had been removed just like the other. I continued to run.
I wished the giant man would return. I was so confused and had so many questions.
Where am I? What’s going on?
Up ahead I saw a dark spot in the fog. It grew larger and larger the closer I got to it. When I finally reached it I saw another giant man, only this one was wearing black scrubs instead of white ones. The large man turned to me and I saw he wore a cat mask. It was orange and white. A cartoon tabby. Below the giant was a boy lying on his back. The masked man was cutting the boy’s face off just like the others. In his hand a small blade was dripping fresh blood.
I backed away as the giant man stood up and turned to me, the knife aiming in my direction.
“Your face is a much better fit,” he said as he removed his cat mask. Beneath it was nothing but black. A bottomless pit of nothingness.
The giant reached for me but I ducked his hand. My heart was screaming in terror. I knew if he got me I would surely die. I tried to run but something latched onto my shoulders holding me in place. I struggled until I saw the face of the mouse mask standing over me.
“Run home,” the mouse-masked giant said. Then he released me, stepping in front of the empty-faced man.
I didn’t hesitate. With my legs pumping fast, I sliced through the fog running with everything I had.
Run home. Where is home?
It didn’t matter at that moment. I just needed to get away. I felt the fog thickening. Felt it penetrating my lungs like poisonous smoke. It was like trying to run with a hand squeezing out all the oxygen from your body. But I couldn’t stop. The giant told me to run home. I had to make it.
Right when I was about to give up I saw a light breaking through the fog. The coloring was wrong for sunlight. It was more like a flashlight than the sun, but it was just as large. It was overpowering, dismantling the thick, poison fog. I slowed to a walk, unsure if I should proceed towards it.
“He’s waking up!”
I heard a voice. It sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it right away.
“Daddy!” This time I knew the voice. It was undeniable. The images and memories that had been bouncing around in my head came pouring out. I did have a daughter. I remembered. Maybe not everything at once, but I remembered her. I remembered my wife giving birth and holding that beautiful life we had created in my hands for the first time.
The light got brighter and brighter until it broke into objects. Walls, furniture, people. I was in a room. It looked like a hospital. I realized that I wasn’t walking anymore. I was lying down.
My family was around me. My wife and daughter were there both crying and smiling at once. In my baby girl’s arms were her favorite stuffed animals, a tabby cat and a gray mouse.
Two doctors stood over me.
“Try to relax,” one said placing a hand on my shoulder. He had on white scrubs and a mask covering his nose and mouth. He pulled it down around his neck and then told me again to relax.
“You were in an accident. Fell into a coma for a week,” the other doctor said. He had on similar scrubs but his were black.
I wanted to tell them I was okay but I couldn’t speak.
My face felt numb.
I lifted up my arm and touched my face, feeling bandages all over it. I tried to pull them off. I wanted to touch my face.
They stole my face!
I started to flip out, enraged by the idea of being faceless.
The doctors held my arms down.
“Relax. We will explain everything.”
I saw my wife and daughter staring at me. They weren’t smiling anymore, just crying. It was enough to make me stop struggling.
“You were in an accident. We had to do some surgery,” the doctor in black told me. “You had extensive damage on your face.”
“Everything went well. You will have some scarring but I believe a full, healthy recovery,” the doctor in white spoke.
I nodded my head that I understood and then they let me go, giving me something to help calm my nerves. Later that evening, once my daughter was asleep, my wife filled me in on the car accident. There had been another car involved. A husband, wife, and their young boy had all lost their lives. I had been the only survivor.
I wanted to tell her about my dreams in the coma. I wanted to tell her that I think I saw that other family; saw them dead and faceless. I wanted to tell her about the giants with their masks. Tell her how everything felt so real but unnatural at the same time. In the end, I didn’t tell her or anyone. I kept it deep inside where all strange dreams live.