The next morning:
I yawn and stretch out my arms without opening my eyes. I hear birds singing and leaves rustling outsi...
I open my eyes.
I'm laying in damp grass in a dense forest. Concrete walls are now fir trees, iron bars are now dew-kissed bushes.
Where the hell am I?
I stand and realize that my orange jumpsuit is torn to shreds and barely hanging on to me. It is loosely blowing in the wind.
What happened last night? How did I get here?
I began climbing the nearest hill, hoping to get my bearings at the top. I get to the peak at peer out in every direction. Nothing but trees.
I see a small pond at the bottom of the hill and head towards it. Reaching the water, I bend down and splash my face with it, washing the sleep from my eyes.
The ripples settle into the surface, and there he is again, right on cue.
"You aren't real," I say to the reflection. "I'll turn around to look and you won't be there."
The man in the pond is motionless.
"Who are you anyways?"
"I thought you'd never ask, Zee," the man said, his face contorting into a devilish grin.
"Oh god, I'm going insane," I murmur.
"If you just figured that out now, you're a lot worse off than you think."
"Shut up!" I yell at the water, "You aren't real!"
"Zee, I'm hurt," he says mockingly, "and here, I thought you wanted to know who I am."
I stare in silence, the man in the pond glancing mischievously at me.
"No need to be so stuffy about it, Zee! Where are your manners?" he torments me.
"Please tell me who you are."
"Now was that so hard?" he says slyly. "I'm the one who killed the man, raped his wife, and killed her too.
Not to mention everyone at the prison last night when I broke you out. But you already knew all that."
"You couldn't have done any of that!" I shout. "You're all in my head!"
"Very true, Zee. Now you're figuring it out." He winks mockingly at me.
"Dammit!" I punch the water and turn away.
Am I truly going insane?
On the other side of the pond, a man and a woman ride two horses up to the water. They are wearing colorful clothes and carry large packs on their backs. The man calls across the water to me.
"Hey stranger, you need some help?"
"Yes!" shouts the man in the pond.
"Be right over!"
"How did he hear you?!" I hiss at the reflection.
"Maybe if you were more polite, I'd tell you a few more things."
The colorful man finally makes his way around to me.
"Hey, you look pretty beat up! What are you doing out here all by yourself?" he asks compassionately.
"I don't know," I say honestly, "I don't know how I got here."
"Well that's no good, man. Don't worry, we'll get you taken care of. Hey, are those prison duds?"
"I, um... that is," I stammer an inaudible excuse.
"No worries man," he says clasping my shoulder good-naturedly. "Back during the 'Nam War, me and the lady were in jail more times than I can remember. We got no love for the man, man."
"Thank you," I say, relieved.
"Our pleasure, friend."
To be continued...