The mist was not so thick now. He could see across most of the island. And what he saw there made his knees tremble.
The entire island had come alive. The trees had unfurled. And every blade of grass too. They were writhing, stretching, reaching towards him. He had been sleeping with his head against those trees for two whole nights. His backpack was still somewhere on the island. Unless the trees had done something to it. Would they do something to it? What would they have done to him if he had stayed on the island?
The movements in the mist made sense now. They had been right beside him all the time. Only moving when he turned his back. He whimpered. Fell to his knees. No. He grabbed his hair. It could not be; there had to be some kind of rules in this dimension.
The flute was still playing behind him. But it could not be playing on its own, there had to be someone or something out there in the water. Could it be one of those slimy things? Or was it something else? Either way he did not want to swim out there to look.
Trapped between the water and the reaching arms of the trees. What should he do? He glanced up and down the beach. Perhaps he could hide between the large rocks farther down the beach, until morning. Oh God, he hoped it would all be back to normal in the morning.
He scrambled to his feet and hurried down the beach. Squeezed in between two large rocks. It was cold, but at least they would have a hard time getting him out. He just hoped he would not be stuck when he wanted to move on.
A new sound began behind the flute music. A low buzzing, like from the wings of a bumblebee. It grew in intensity. Rodger swallowed. Something new was coming. He took a deep breath and peered out from his hiding place.
The buzzing grew even louder, but he could not see anything new. It had to be close now; it was so loud. Then something large burst out of the mist and whizzed over his head. As it disappeared into the mist behind him, the music vanished with it.
Rodger’s breath caught in his throat. He had recognized the shape, but it was too large. Much too large. It was a giant praying mantis.
The buzzing of wings receded. Rodger sat as if frozen. When he felt a cramp beginning in his leg, he crept out ever so carefully. His boot squelched as he moved, and he remembered his wet foot. It was completely numb.
The trees were still again, thank God, and the mist had dissipated enough for him to see across the island. Everything seemed back to normal. Or at least, back to how it was before the flute music began.
He crept up to where he had been sleeping. His rucksack was still there, and it seemed unharmed. He snatched it up and ran from the island on to the stones. The trees should not be able to reach him there. But the things in the water… And what would he do if the mantis returned?
He checked his watch. This was no good; he had no time for running. He had to find a way to get back up to the machine. Until now, this dimension had only given him more questions; it was time to get some answers. And he had an idea of how he might get some.
This is part nine, read the first part here: