Author : Travis Gregg

The brightness was overwhelming at first and it took several minutes for his eyes to adjust. The dirt was warm under his bare feet, and the smell, the smell was like something from his childhood. The smell of dirt and wind and sun. He’d forgotten that smell.

All around him the wheat fields stretched from horizon to horizon, a sharp contrast against the deep blue of the cloudless sky. The only thing that broke the uniformity was a two story ramshackle building on top of a nearby hill. It looked about a hundred years old, all rotted wood and sagging porch. The roof had partially collapsed and it looked like a stiff breeze would send the whole structure crashing into a heap. He slowly rotated and it was all sky and wheat and the abandoned building.

“What is this?” he asked. “Another test?”

At first there had been many tests. Some painful, some beyond painful. Some he’d forgotten and some he’d probably never be able to. His hand rubbed the scars unconsciously. On at least three occasions he’d been led to believe he’d been freed only to have the illusion melt away after his captors ascertained whatever it was they were hoping to learn.

There had been fewer and fewer test though the longer they’d held him. He couldn’t even remember how long it’d been since the last one but certainly a while. He’d lost a sense of time almost immediately after his capture.

“No, no more tests. We’re done with that,” his captor replied.

“If not a test, then what is this?” he asked.

“Your home, or near enough to where we picked you up.”

“Look at this place, there’s nothing here!”

His captor had no shoulders but still managed to convey an indifferent shrug as it turned back to the portal. “A significant time has passed on your specie’s time scale. The rules are when we’re done the subjects must be returned to their original habitat.”

“How long has it been?”

Silence was the only response he got as the portal and his captor faded to nothingness. As he looked out at the empty expanse, truly alone for the first time in ages, he realized simply surviving might be the most difficult test.

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