Elgin was a fairly normal twenty-eight year old, except that her friends called her Long-Nü. Nobody remembered the meaning of it anymore, but the nickname stuck.
That night, Long-Nü woke up at 3am again. The problem with 3am was perched, as usual, outside her window: that small stupid bird, cheerfully chirping her song and unaware of grievance it caused to the whole neighborhood. For Long-Nü, that meant another sleepless night.
Determined not to let this night wasted, she put on her clothes and stepped outside, into the soft air that hugged her body like a cloak. Long-Nü lived next to a large tree park, and somehow she knew that tonight, at 3am, she should be there.
As expected, the park was deserted. Long-Nü was about to reconsider her nocturnal escapade, when she saw a light flame flickering in the trees. A man was standing near the fire on the corner of two winding pathways. Naturally daring and without a thought of remorse, she approached the stranger: “Hello“. ”I can show you the way if you are ready to see it”, said the man simply, staring into the flame.
Long-Nü was a very rational person. She would normally not pay attention to madmen in parks, but something about that small stupid bird by her window and the way stranger spoke to her made her listen. “See that old tree across the road? Look at it very carefully and picture the path in your mind that can lead you there. You have to run on this path. Fast.”
The stranger continued to speak of a place that existed beyond the tree, a place where Long-Nü would find answers to all her questions. “Once you are in, turn left; take the first door, then the second, and then the third. Remember: turn left, take the first door, then the second, and then the third.” He insisted on her repeating these directions until she remembered them, and urged her to follow them no matter what happened.
“You should not pay attention to anything that happens on your way. Do not talk to anyone or touch anything until you reach your final destination.”
Feeling completely lost and bewildered, Long-Nü asked the stranger:
“What is my final destination?”
“You will know once you get there,” he answered, “Now run!”
And so she ran. Straight into the tree…
And then… she was someplace else!
To be continued…