Here We Go Again
Finding a circle of stones in woods isn't exactly new for me. Being a forest ranger, you see a lot of weird things. Usually the circles are made by teenagers trying to "summon the devil" and stuff.
But this. This is different.
These aren't small stones; these are ten-feet-tall, aligned in a perfect circle, and have ‘doorways’ on the north and south sides. There are 16 stones around the circle, each carved with an intricate pattern. Why? How should I know. I'm just an underpaid government employee.
I run my finger along the grooves, noticing that the cuts on all the rocks are completely smooth. No bumps or imperfections at all. No way drunk teenagers made this one.
But on the northern 'gateway', there is a hand-print indentation on the left stone. I'm a curious individual, and somewhat stupid, so I obviously put my hand on it, just to see if anything would happen.
With my (bad) luck, something did happen.
The air around was harshly sucked into the gateway, whooshing loudly past my ears. I stagger backwards to avoid being sucked into the small rift forming in the gateway. Through the rift, a glowing hand, almost made of light, desperately reaches out. I grab the hand (Have I mentioned I'm stupid?) and try to pull the being through. The rift widens and starts to shoot out purple-and-blue sparks as the creature finally escapes the rift. The portal closes behind it in a burst of air that throws me to the ground.
The being wasn't really made of light, that faded after the portal closed. In fact, they look like a human. I glance up at the being.
They look like me. Just. Like. Me.
My jaw dropped. This definitely isn’t a ‘normal’ stone circle.
"Damn, I'm too old for this shit," I mumbled to myself, still laying on the ground, with my back still hurting from my earlier fall.
I remember the being, "Hey, buddy," I try to break the silence, "Uh, how's it going?" Wow, not awkward at all.
The other me cocks his head, confused.
I scramble to stand, "I meant," I begin, "What's your name? And, uh, what's the portal for?"
The other me just smiles, the ends of his mouth turning up so high it looks almost painful. From those ends, the skin begins to tear, lengthen the smile to the eye-level. One of his hands reaches to grab his upper lip and pulls the skin over the top of his head like it was a hood. (Ew) From under the 'skin hood' emerges a dark and foreboding abomination, it's sparkling white teeth a sharp contrast from the dark void of its body. It steps out of the 'flesh molt', which falls unceremoniously with a squelch, and steps towards me with a grin much larger than the demented one it formerly had on ‘my’ face.
"Aw shit," I bemoaned, pulling my sword from the standard-forest-ranger scabbard and readying it for battle, "Here we go again."