The day before the island died I dropped into Fortnite to search for a trace of Wailing Woods. This was the area where I first landed, in my first ever game of Fortnite – a game that took place the week the team announced and then released their Battle Royale mode.
I can remember only the basics of that initial visit: I chose the woods because I was late and indecisive in jumping. Once there I’m not sure I even picked up a weapon. I think I wandered amongst the trees, waving my axe at things and jumping, trying to find out if I could go prone, and then being killed, no doubt, by someone I didn’t even see. If you’d told me at that point that over the next few years I would come to know this landscape so well that the whole place would cross over that strange icicle bridge separating waking life from sleep – if you’d told me I would eventually dream about these woods and this island – I would probably not have believed you.
Wailing Woods are gone now. Even before the island was swallowed by a black hole they were gone. They were replaced by a volcano, I think, and then the volcano was hollowed out to form a sort of hydroelectric dam that brings to mind GoldenEye, the game as much as the movie. Behind the dam, where I landed on the day before the island died, there was a sort of central American stepped temple, its exterior a brash orange and its insides wildly painted. Beyond that there were trees, where I wandered for a little while. Was this the remains of the Wailing Wood? I tried, unsuccessfully, to orient myself. Where had the hedge maze been? Where was the spot where you could often find a good mushroom or two? I’m not sure I even picked up a weapon. I wandered among the trees for a few odd minutes, and then I was killed by someone I didn’t even see. I would miss this place!