This is my Friday flash for the Vamplit blog. Enjoy your next outing in the forests!
Night crawlers work their way through the soil towards the protective cover of old decayed leaves which not only hold moisture in the ground below but conceal much from the eyes of onlookers. Sometimes, things are not what they seem.
Evening approaches. Glorious dampness will present itself to the denizens of the earth who are waiting patiently for the perfect moment. Once the sun drops down over the horizon and the dew casts its net across the forest floor, they will wiggle free and waltz along the landscape, enjoying their communion with the night.
The crawlers are big here. The forest borders a large lake supplied by many underground springs. Cool, clean water and dark, rich soil combine to provide optimal habitat. This is a hidden place: lost in time and free from the ravages of man. Nature in harmony.
Tonight, that harmony is threatened . . .
They approach from the east. Five of them, packing rifles. Shots ring out through the silent night, and a deer drops to the ground, no match for the four bullets encased in its body. Only a fawn, still with spots, there is no reason for its wanton slaughter. Food? It is far too small to supply much venison.
Laughter fills the forest, and with it the taste of sheer brutality carried on the gentle breezes. The stench of corrupted human values bounces off the trees, permeating all it touches, and the rest of the wildlife retreats from harm’s way, seeking safety.
Safety: where is it? The men carry huge lights to spot the animals with, blinding them before the kill. How can the poor creatures escape from that?
One of them picks up the fawn, and they search for more game. They play their lights between the trees, waiting for a shot at anything they see. Some shots are fired, but the animals are more wary now and are trying to steer clear of the hunters.
An inner voice tells the critters where to go, how to find safety. They have heard it before and they willingly obey. The Master of the forest will not tolerate anymore from the rabble. They are no longer welcome here.
The hunters’ lights stray from their intended paths and come back to blind them. Trees reach their branches down and whisper into the ears of the invaders, using multiple voices, creating a cacophony of sound which has them turning around in fright. Roots spring up from the ground, causing the blinded men to trip and fall, smaller roots reaching out, wrapping themselves about the transgressors.
Laughter, gigantic peals of it, bellows out into the night. “Welcome to my world!” a voice shouts out. “You dare to wreak your havoc upon my friends. No more!”
The roots vanish back into the ground and the hunters leap up, trying to locate the source of the voice, to kill whatever it is before it kills them. They see nothing and run for their lives, unsure of where they are at. Total disorientation, the kind that comes from extreme fear has overcome them. Hoping to go back the way they came, the men scramble forward.
Left behind in the commotion, the fawn causes the Master’s heart to suffer, and he reaches down to pick it up. Letting out a huge scream, he covers its mouth with his and breathes part of his life force into the baby deer. Within seconds, the little guy starts breathing on his own and once he’s strong enough to walk, the Master sends him off in the direction of his mother who is hovering close by.
Even the Leader is not immune to the draining of the energy he has just expended. He rests for a short time to rejuvenate, and fueled by his desire to rid the forest of the vermin attacking it, he doggedly pursues them.
The trees move closer together, forming a thick impasse the hunters can not penetrate. They feel the breath of their protagonist on their necks but still don’t see him. Looming over them, larger than life, he advances, bidding the forest to work with him.
Oh, the sweet joy of the chase, the classic cat and mouse game, waiting until he has had his fill of taunting and tearing at the minds of his enemy, creates an awesome high for the Master. Forward a bit, only to retreat to warp the brains of this scum is so satisfying.
The trees create a labyrinth of trails and the chased have to decide which one to take. Their first choice is not the correct one and tree limbs reach down like arms with hands attached and throw each hunter onto a separate path. There is no strength in numbers at work any longer. Each man is alone.
Farther into the forest they go, not east as they had planned, but west, away from their safety net. There seem to be no more maze of trails, but although the hunters can hear their companions, they can not see them, and know they must simply run. Their weapons were stripped of them by the limb/arms of the trees, and they are defenseless. Yet what difference does it make if you can’t see your target, if all you are capable of is hearing him bear down on you, breathing moist air on your neck, and emitting some unseen slimy substance to slow you down even more, creating a cocoon of sorts, binding your limbs together.
The trails converged to one, and the men are together once more. Roots form again, taking control of their bodies, fastening them to the ground.
Before their eyes, the Master materializes into a solid form, hovering over them, dropping immense amounts of slime on them.
He laughs then says, “My children are hungry, and so am I.”
Thousands of night crawlers attack the men, squeezing into every body orifice they can find and start to feed. Their father, the Master, waits patiently, then joins them.