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This is the third part in a four-part story written by the Fab Four bloggers from the Master Class. Check out the first part, written by Eric at Sinistral Scribblings, and the second part, written by SAM at My Write Side, before reading this.

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Photo courtesy of SAM at My Write Side.

I can’t bring myself to accept the future presented. As I look into her familiar face, pain laces through my emotional barriers. Things I had tried to forget burst to the surface of my mind. I turn away from her face.

My shoes stomp along the paved road as I race away from the rock. The mist follows, keeping pace with my steps. The trees along the sides sway in spite of the absence of wind. My lungs burn as I gasp desperately for air. My stride slows and the mist swallows me.

Shift.

This is the face of my future. I know I must embrace it, but it still pains me to look into her azure eyes and see the torment reflected in them. I take one step toward the rock and the face becomes a mask of horror. I turn to run away again.

My shoes stomp along the paved road as I race away from the rock. The mist follows, keeping pace with my steps.

I know how this story ends. The burning sensation ripples through the muscles in my legs. Searing pain shoots through my shins with every step I take along the endless road. My surroundings become blurred into obscurity.

I turn to the right and run off the road. The mist follows, snaking and swirling behind the path I have chosen.

The wind begins to blow, kicking leaves into the air around me and obscuring my vision. Branches from trees reach out and scratch my arms and legs as I outrun the mist.

My feet dig into the dirt as I skid to a halt. Massive redwoods tower in front of me, blocking my way on all three sides. The only path remaining is to turn back.

I face the mist as it consumes me.

Shift.

This is the face of my future, a face from my past. I can’t flee from it, nor embrace it. I stand dejected and tormented, frozen in place.

The mist swallows me as my mind fades into darkness.

Shift.

This is the face of my future. A future I can’t escape from. A past I can’t hide from. I open my arms and fall into the stone, embracing the darkness within.

I open my eyes to see the stone is gone. Her face has departed. The mist remains behind me but no longer advances while I stand. Looking around I find that I am still within the forest. In front of me is a small house built into the trees. My future.

Windows frame all sides of the house, light flooding into the rooms. The exterior is crafted from a variety of woods that blend together to add character to the structure. A hemp rope hangs from the rail of the porch, providing the only way to the house. Seeing no viable options around me, I begin to climb.

The mist crowds around the bottom of the rope as I struggle to make my way up to the house. The rope cuts into my palms as I climb and the effort sends pain lancing through my arms. My grip slips and I fall into the mist below.

Shift.

In front of me is a small house built into the trees. The rope hangs from the rail of the porch, taunting me as it sways in the wind. I come over to it and begin my ascent.

The mist fills in the ground below me as I pull myself up, hand over hand, toward the house. The effort is exhausting and my body screams for relief.

I ignore the pain and press on.

I pull myself onto the porch and lay there a moment, gasping for breath. My eyes threaten to close and the darkness settles in around the corners of my vision.

My arms quake with the effort of getting up. My legs wobble as though I am standing on the deck of a swaying ship. In the window she stares at me. In every window she is there.

My future and my past.

I cannot escape it. I must go on.

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As mentioned above, this is part three of a four part story. Eric Storch, Shannon Potts, SAM and I decided to collaborate on a story based on a picture provided by Eric. We gave ourselves a few simple rules to follow:

1 – No one will be privy to the story until it’s time to write their part.

2- The next person won’t know who they are until a post is published (the person writing the post chooses the next person after the post is published).

3- The person who published the most recent part not only chooses who is next, but must also provide a new and original visual prompt.

4- The story must continue as a whole.

5- There is no time or word count limit.

Even though there is only one writer left to contribute, I am honored to choose Shannon from The Squeaky Wheel blog to write part four. Here is the photo prompt for Shannon to use:

Fab Four