Tree Spirits


jim_icon.gif unknown8_icon.gif

Scene Title Tree Spirits
Synopsis They have a message for a seer.
Date April 23, 2019

Outside the Safe Zone: New York

It’s getting warmer in New York. The snow is mostly melted, and there isn’t much new snow falling nowadays in the inexorable march — in more ways than one — toward spring. So, it’s not a terrible idea to go out walking beyond the Safe Zone right now. No more terrible than it ever is, anyway.

That is what Jim is doing right now. He’s not too far out, but far enough that the sounds of the city — such as they are now — have faded to nothing. He makes his way through the overgrowth, the grass and moss that has sprouted up on the ruins of what was once White Plains. Walking through here, it’s easy to imagine that there’s no one else alive. Animals have taken up residence in the skeletons of houses, but they aren’t very interested in a lone person who isn’t intent on bothering them.

Jim walks, and as he walks his eyes move over the scenery. He doesn’t focus on any one thing, instead allowing his gaze to become unfocused, only paying enough attention to keep from stepping wrong and having this trip end in injury. Considering he’s alone out here, falling and breaking a leg would probably not be the best idea.

As he moves along through the crackle of underbrush, the world around him seems ever more alive than it often is inside the safe zone. Animals chittering in the trees, moving about, a bird singing for the upcoming spring to attract a mate. There are trees of all sizes, some long dead with limbs cracked and falling. An abandoned house in the distance’s roof collapsed long ago, leaving the broken hull of a home behind, paint chipping and rusted and faded.

But it’s the trees that catch his eye. The way the shadows play on the bark, the way certain holes can be seen— there’s something shifting about them, changing. For a moment he almost sees a shape in the way the bark is laid out on one, then on another.

Then the shape solidifies in the corner of his vision. A dark mouth with bark for lips. Woodpecked holes for eyes with sap running down like tears. It might have been a figment of imagination until he saw the mouth move. It is almost like a whisper of wind against his ear, but it forms soft words in his mind.

Help me.

He can’t hear the voice, exactly, but somehow, immediately, he knows the voice belongs to a girl.

Jim lets his gaze move to the place that his unconscious mind seems to want to look — to the trees, the shadows between them, and whatever it is that’s moving. If it’s moving. It’s hard to tell, but he doesn’t focus on it too hard. Instead, he just waits, keeping his eyes unfocused somewhere in the middle distance.

The words spoken so close to him almost make him jump, but he manages to keep still, even though he tenses just a little bit. “Who are you?” he asks, almost as quietly. Then: “Where are you?”

From another direction, another tree, the the shadows shift again, the bark moving to form a face. “Many whos.” This voice mutters, also a young woman, but not the same. The pitch is huskier than before, older, but not much.

“Many wheres,” yet another voice says, from a tree to his right, a face forming there as well. This voice came softer, like a young woman who was unsure of herself, shy, even the bark seemed to form bangs to hide one eye.

All three of the voices speak together from their various trees. “Help us.”

Jim’s eyes move slowly, carefully — as though if he looks at them too hard or too quickly, everything will disappear. He strains to hear everything, afraid to miss even a single word, and his whole body tenses unconsciously with anticipation of something terrible.

“I want to,” he murmurs, his gaze moving from face to face as they warp into view within his vision. “I want to help. How?” In contrast to the shifting and moving of the shadows and the leaves, he stands very still, lest any movement he makes break the spell and scatter the vision.

The voices come from many directions, one taking up where the other left off and another continuing. “You need to find the one who saw and the one who can see.” The wind rustles through the branches, the sound of leaves brushing together blending in with the voices. Some of the voices deeper and more demanding than the first three, the first three taking up a word in the sentences as well.

“Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Together you can stop him.”

A maple leaf falls into his vision, blocking the sight of the most recent face on the tree that spoke and then it becomes a face he almost recognizes, someone he had met before or saw once. It reminds him briefly of the smell of books.

“Together you can save me.”

That last is said by one voice, that almost recognized face. A young woman.

The face vanishes from one blink to the next, and suddenly he can hear the soft sounds of squirrels and birds and the forest around him once again.

Jim barely even breathes as he listens to the voices, his eyes flicking in the direction of each, though just a little bit later than they actually begin, so that he can’t quite see what each voice came from. He’s not really trying to, though — he’s still standing like he’s afraid to startle them away.

When they give him the answer he’s seeking, though, he frowns, confused — or partly, anyway. But at least it’s a start, and he knows one of the pieces of the puzzle now.

He starts to say something else, but then he manages to stare directly at one of them — that face. The face of the young woman, who he almost knows…but it slips away again a moment later when it vanishes, and he’s alone.

He takes a deep breath, reaching up to wipe the tears from his face as he turns to head home.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License