Cyn stood on the floating dock staring dubiously at the mist-shrouded island in front of her.
“Miss, you change your mind?” her dark-skinned escort asked with his musical island accent.
“Nooooo,” she slowly answered.
“Your fantasy cannot begin until you step off of the dock and onto the shore,” he reminded her.
This she knew, but still had difficulty forcing herself to willingly step into the pea soup not an arm’s length in front of her. Maybe if she could see something—anything—in the ever changing blanket of fog…
“I’m going. I’m going. I just need another minute.” Or two, or three.
“You know it’s perfectly safe. We would not allow any harm to come to you,” her helpful guide assured her.
Taking his words to heart, Cyn took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. “Wish me luck,” she told him.
“You’ll be fine.”
Casting a last glance in his direction that displayed more confidence than what she was actually feeling, she stepped off of the floating dock onto the shore and was instantly swallowed.
“Just keep moving,” she heard him say.
Easy for you to say, she thought. She was blind in this stuff. She raised her hand before her face. She could see it, sort of, but not much else. Even sound was slightly muffled, like she was underwater. She forced herself to keep walking forward, one baby step at a time.
Like stepping through a curtain, the mist parted and she found herself standing in a small clearing in the woods. Feeling strange, she looked down to see the simple jeans and t-shirt she’d been wearing was now a coarse, peasant-style blouse of an indeterminate color and a flowing loose skirt that gathered at her waist with a rope. Her feet were shod in some type of animal hide material. Definitely not leather. Bye, bye Nikes.
Her shoes weren’t the only thing that were gone. So was her bra and panties. Stupidly, she turned her head from side to side, looking for her missing items as though they’d be lying on folded on the ground. Of course they weren’t. They’d vanished.
She turned to look back at the way she’d come and something swung against her back. Reaching a hand behind her, she realized her previously shoulder length hair now came to her butt in a thick fall of spiral curls. Okay, not something she’d requested but she could deal.
Cyn supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised to find both the beach and the mist had disappeared. Instead of the rocky shoreline she should be seeing, there was nothing but trees. At least it was daylight and the sun, though weak, was shining.
There was nothing for her to do but keep moving forward as instructed. She did so, wondering what other surprises were in store.
She turned around and placed her feet gingerly on the ground, watching closely for rocks and other sharp items. She needn’t have bothered. Though sole-less, the hide was extremely tough and resilient.
Sighing, she continued on her way. The air was a bit warm and humid, and the rough material of her top soon had her itching. Cyn scratched absently as the clearing gave way to a wooded path. She followed the winding footpath until the path changed to a rutted dirt road, which led to a small village.
It was like stepping back into time. There were no cars, no telephone poles or electric wires leading to the homes. No screens in the windows. Instead, wooden shudders hung open, allowing passerbys to see inside. Goats bleated in pens. Chickens and the occasional stately roster ran loose, as did cats and dogs of varying sizes. Small, neatly rowed gardens bursting with produce were to the side or behind each house, along with wells with buckets for water.
As she neared the center of town, she could tell something was happening. The villagers were standing around a man who stood heads and shoulders above them, speaking in loud, angry voices. Some waved large sticks. Or maybe they were staffs. It was hard to tell. Others had pitchforks and other farming instruments. Children clung to their mother’s skirts and the women stuck close to their men.
“There she is,” the guy in the center yelled.
As one, they all turned and looked in her direction. Cyn automatically glanced behind her to see to whom they were referring. There was no one there.
“Get her!” several voices rang out.
"Get who? Me? Before she could take off running, they were on her.
Cyn fought but was quickly overwhelmed. They were determined, and the women were viscous. She’d have a few bruises before this was all over with. She was bodily lifted into the air and carried to some unknown destination.
The guy who must be their leader was saying something but Cyn was cursing and kicking too much to hear him. After they’d traveled a distance from the town, she was none too gently set on her feet.
“What the hell are you doing?” she screamed at them as they trussed her up like a Thanksgiving turkey and tossed her onto a flat, raised surface.
She squirmed, trying to get to her feet. She didn’t know what was going on, but it couldn’t be good.
“Stay still, dearie. It will be over quickly, you’ll see, and it’s for the good of our village. Think of your poor dear parents,” an old crone told her.
“What will be over quickly?” Cyn demanded to know.
Another sun weathered, wrinkled-face woman, with graying hair held back by a brown headscarf shoved through the bodies surrounding her. “My darling daughter, if only you’d have accepted Johnny’s proposal like I urged, you wouldn’t still be a virgin.”