Chapter 42: The Forest

He reached a promontory overlooking the valley of shadow with dimly lit caves on the hillsides stretching away as far as his eyes cared to see. It was a setting much like the valley on the other world of his creation, now a dark rock hurtling around the giant uninhabitable world below, counter-phase to the world on which he now stood. He thought about the flowers of hatred and death that no longer bloomed from lack of the blood of Sapien victims. He thought about the message of hatred. It was not caused by blood although it was certainly fueled by it.

What was true in his imagination was also true in reality.

He glanced to his left at the strand of nearby trees. There was a gap between the trees. In the starlight he saw a pale path. He turned to walk toward it. The trees were dense and over-arching so that he could not see even a sliver of the night sky above him. He walked with his hands extended in front of him to protect his face from low hanging branches and out-reaching brambles.

He came to a wall of branches with thorns and discovered that the path turned to his right. He followed the new path for some time until he came into a clearing lit palely by the weak starlight from above.

There was a more-or-less flat boulder half sunk in the middle of the clearing. He decided to sit on it for a few moments just to catch his breath and his bearings. He examined his surroundings looking for the path from which he had entered the clearing.

There was a sound, barely discernible, of unlubricated metal against unlubricated metal. He walked to the edge of the clearing and strained his ears to hear better, but he no longer heard it. Then he heard it again. Now he could also hear a faint voice, human, though he could not make out what was being said or the emotion of it.

Then he heard, “Over here…”

There was a path, though not the path by which he had entered the clearing. He said, “Keep speaking so I can find you.”

“Over here … over here … over here-errrrrr,” the disembodied voice continued through the darkness.

He saw a glint of metal in the weak starlight. He knew who it was.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels

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