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January 5th, 2017

"We move so slow, Ramil. The people of the Lost took my daughter three nights ago already. If I didn't need you to lead the way, I would leave you here in the middle of the jungle. Let the jaguar find you."

"And if I had my youth I would go myself to retrieve the life crystal. Now, Jadir, bring your machete here and cut these vines so I may pass."

"It's been four days of slow trekking. How much farther must we go?"

"Jadir, we are here. Past those trees and we will see the village of the Lost. Remember our deal. You will get me into the village first, then you look for your daughter."

The two crept slowly toward the village. They peered past the trees and saw a full village: a collection of huts, various tools and weapons, cooking utensils. Everything except people.

Jadir looked carefully at the village, then whispered, "Where are the people of the Lost? This village is abandoned."

"It is time for my confession. The people of the Lost can only be seen by their own tribe. Once you have joined, you may never leave. Nobody else will see you again. The Lost are ghosts to all others."

"Then why have you made me bring you to this cursed place? I could have just come here to retrieve my daughter."

"While the cost of joining the Lost is high, you are granted eternal life in return. My time is over among our people."

Jadir thought on this, then replied, "How do I find my daughter? I must bring her back. Her mother is very worried."

Ramil asked, "Jadir, do you know the way back without me?"

"Of course."

Ramil avoided any eye contact, looking down instead. "Jadir, your daughter is now one with the Lost. You will never bring her back. Do not follow me anymore." Ramil slowly got up and started walking towards the village.

Jadir took some moments to process what was happening. "Old man you have tricked me. I will not let you enter the village." Jadir stood and advanced towards Ramil. As he walked forward, he moved his hand to his belt, unsheathing a small knife. "You will tell me how-"

Ramil vanished. Jadir suddenly stopped, "What is this?" He noticed that the ground had a row of stone just where Ramil had disappeared. It appeared to encircle the entire village.

"Old man, where are you? I cannot see you." He paused to consider what had happened, then continued talking to the forest. "I will not return without my daughter."

Jadir looked at his surrounding carefully, then went to work. He stripped bark from young saplings, then weaved the strips into a long cord. He tied one end to a large tree near the village border, then the other end around his waist.

"I will not return without my daughter."

Carefully, he walked up to the edge of the border and looked into the village. Nothing. He placed one foot on top of the stone border, but nothing changed. He slowly nudged his foot forward. Finally one foot was completely inside the village border while the other was outside. His body carefully anchored to the outside world. Many people appeared in what was previously the abandoned village.

He yelled out, "Elisa! Elisa! This is Jadir! Come to your father!"

A familiar head appeared at the doorway to a hut.

"Elisa! Come here quickly! We must go back home right away!"

Elisa came running and gave her father a hug. Despite their situation, he hugged her back.

"Come, Elisa. We must go back immediately and leave this cursed place."

Jadir had one arm around Elisa and the other grasping the cord around his waist. He walked back the way he had come, away from the village. Then, holding Elisa up, immediately started running back home. The journey home took only two days without Ramil to slow them down. Finally, they approached their village.

"Elisa, we are home! Come let us go to your mother. You will bring joy to her sad heart."

As they entered their tent, Elisa ran to her mother wanting to be wrapped in her arms once more. But while she expected to feel the warmth of her mother's skin, she instead moved through it, as if she was a ghost. The mother did not respond."

Jadir gasped, "Elisa, what happened? Are you ok?" He stepped forward to get a hold of her, and his arm also passed through his wife's body. They had both become lost.