He opens his eyes.
The bright sky of the foreign world surrounding him momentarily blinds him as he tries to wake up from his haze. The ground beneath him is hard and dusty. The world spins around as he shuts his eyes tightly until he finds his bearings. His eyes adjust to the daylight around him and his equilibrium evens out after his case of vertigo.
He realizes that he’s lying on his side in the fetal position. A spasm runs through his lungs and he begins to cough; a whooping cough, signaling his return to the world of oxygen, that forces him onto his back. As the spasms subside, he looks at the sky.
No clouds dot the sky. No sun shines. Yet the sky is bright and blue. He does not notice the lack of celestial beings, though; he just basks in the realization that it appears to be a beautiful day. He sits up and looks at the world around him. Nothing but desert surrounds him. He’s surprised at the coolness of the air caressing his skin.
As he looks around, he realizes that he’s in something of a desert valley, rocks jut up to the sky in every which way he turns to look. The more he observes, though, he realizes he’s in the midst of a crater. In the very center of it. Looking this way and that he sees that in every direction the wall of dirt, sand, and boulders that surrounds him is evenly spaced from him in all directions. Directly to his left he sees a mountain climbing up into the sky. Where it ends he doesn’t know for it climbs beyond the sight of his eyes. The length, width, and circumference of the crater surrounding him escape his perception. At this moment, he’s curious as to how he came to be here.
He stands up and looks around him. How does one come to be in a place like this? he asks himself. He tries to think of how he got there. Then he tries to think of how he could have gotten anywhere. Where was he before this? Where was he before that? Who was he?
The questions swirl around in his mind and make him dizzy. He plops back down on the dusty ground. He looks to the sky. How can I be if I feel like I am not? he asks himself. He can’t even remember his name. While his name might not clue him in to who he is he feels that a little more knowledge into his past might.
Maybe it’s just a temporary lapse of memory, he thinks to himself. Perhaps if I just go for a little walk I’ll begin to remember. He stands up and begins to walk aimlessly toward the edge of the crater. He strains to remember something of where he came from and how he came to be here.
Eventually his mind forgets what he’s trying to remember and turns to the beautiful weather and what a great day it appears to be for a stroll. He looks up into the sky and notices the lack of clouds, but feels there’s still something else missing. His eyes turn to the edge of the crater and he questions what’s out there beyond it. Could he possibly scale the steep grade and make his way out of the crater?
He begins to think that his situation may be more dire than he had imagined at first. What if he can’t make it out of the crater? Would someone eventually find him there? He realizes just how much he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know where he is. He doesn’t know when he is. He doesn’t know who he is. If someone doesn’t find him, or if he can’t crawl out of the crater, then he could die there of hunger or thirst. What would happen to him at night? He doesn’t know how the weather is at night, maybe it will become so cold at night that exposure will kill him. He doesn’t know where but he recalls something about how desert areas become extremely cold at night, and this does seem to be a desert like place.
He begins to pick up his pace with each question until he finds himself sprinting for the edge of the crater. No thought is given to the physical exertion it causes him, nor does he think about the length of time it takes him to get to the end of the crater.
When he reaches the edge of the crater he collapses against a boulder while he tries to catch his breath. His mouth feels parched and he realizes that he’s going to need water soon. He curses himself for his overexertion. After all, he still needs to scale the wall of the crater to get out. A pang of hunger hits him and a slight panic washes over him. He tries to calm himself. He knows he’ll never make it out of there if he begins to panic.
At first he didn’t even notice the old man sitting on the boulder just above the spot where he rested.