A short story by Bloodhound author, Marie Casey.
There they were, in the junction of two trails. One facing west and the other south. And the decision of which path billowed out a smog that polluted the air, irritated the trees. The couple faced off with puffed chests and sour pride, all in the attempt to be the one heard.
"No, it’s this way."
"No, you're wrong."
Cycling of what I know and what you don’t shook the leaves off the trees. The mushrooms took shelter in the shadows. The crickets silenced. The chipmunks remained in the shelter of holes as forest creatures questioned how the wooden giants would respond.
The couple howled to stars not present in the daylight. So, they prepared their throats to release echos for the night but only would be heard by the trees. And in conjunction, the trees gossiped underground, spreading rumors, and theorizing the intent of the intruders.
Why do they shout? What the purpose?
"Do as you want, I am going south," the one said.
"You never go south, you fool," the other shouted. And down their separate paths they went, neither certain of their decision but they couldn't go back.
No, they already barked too loud.
There was no going back now.
They both lifted their feet and planted them firmly down their chosen paths. Over and over again. Avoiding the rocks and muttering disdain. Experiencing the same in different sections of the woods, too busy to acknowledge as they mulled over each other's lack of hearing. Their throats were raw but their ears remained unscathed.
The trees could not fathom such a relation and had already come to an agreement on how to handle the couple. There was too much disturbance in the air and these beings needed to be handled. Warning the forest life to prepare, it would be a matter of time before action.
The one headed south began to spiral down the path, finding perfect footing to launch off and glide. They steadied a pace that gave the illusion of flying as they learned to utilize the air to surge them forward. But as the pace quickened, the air began to slice their skin. Swift, sharp wind carved flesh. Blood splattered and chunks of flesh plopped on the ground.
On one forceful stride, a gust severed a femur, and they fell to the ground in pieces. Hitting the ground hard, knocked out the remaining air in their body. Even the toads heard the skull cracking as a rock met their forehead and the lights went out.
And in the west, there was minimal protection from the sun. The trees had experienced an early shedding from the pollution. They moved with the snails, careful but without motivation. Their skin baked and boiled. The birds sang tales of the smell. Roasted flesh and rancid ambitions.
There was no flight, not on this path.
They crawled. And as their skin began to drip off, they found movement too excruciating to continue. Charred and raw. Organs exposed. And without skin, the dragonflies hovered in awe of the sight as they laid face down in the dirt.
Yet despite the different paths, they both found themselves suffering on the ground. Blood pooled onto the soil. Bones splintering under the weight of their decision.
The other too shocked by the pain to utilize sight.
So, the trees took the energy to scramble the roots, disturb the soil, peeking out onto the surface before piercing through the bodies of the intruders. Injecting sap into the bloodstream acted as the catalyst for their final deterioration. Tissue leaked off the bone and their bones started to crumble.
To the surprise of the trees, the bodies broke down easier than anticipated. As if the bodies pleaded for decay. The trees could not comprehend the rapid decline as if air and sun spoiled their pursuits of survival. The same elements that aid in the life cycle of the trees.
The ground continued to ripple and shake in a welcoming rumble. The decomposing corpses crumbled into the layers of dirt to be greeted by the roots that lived underground. Hungry roots looking to heal a forest.
The trees had agreed through electrical currents and telekinetic energy to show the humans how to live with the elements. The roots from the trees feasted on the remains and absorbed the stardust, as they had dulled the shine. They will flow within the trees and be shown how to breathe in air and absorb the sunlight without decay.
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