Picture Prompt Exercise — 15 Minutes

He stopped at the edge of the trees, and crouched low among the fallen leaves. This area was one he was not supposed to venture near, but he had been dared. It shocked him, the wide expanse of, emptiness, so very different from the soothing darkness of the tree-covered forest. He had heard, before, of fires that had torn through the trees, burning them to the ground and making way for new growth, but this? This was something different, he was certain of it.

The fires would not have left such clean edges. It were as though something had been set down in the middle of the trees, picked them all up, and then carried them off. He smelt the air, finding nothing in the scent besides the old, old traces of burnt wood and, fresh wood? Like the scent of trees that had their skin torn by the claws of a bear during a fight. It was underneath everything in the wide area, however. For the scent to cover that expanse, for it to remain still, hundreds of trees put have been skinned.

His curiosity got the better of his fear, and he shuffled out of the tree cover, sudden away of the contrast his dark fur made against the burnt orange of the growing lichen. He froze again, but still there was nothing but the old scents and the emptiness of the air. He shuffled forward, waited, shuffled, waited, continuing on in this fashion until he was farther from the tree cover than he had ever been before.

The scent of burnt wood led him to the remains of an old tree. It stood, as much as it was able, with the lichen growing around it, and up along the edge of its remains. It looked wrong to him, far too short, even for a tree that had been in a razing fire. In fact, it he stood on his hind legs, he could rest his fore paws on top of the charred surface. The surface seemed almost flat, except where the fire had removed the edges.

Again he was left with the impression of something coming to just carry all the trees away. Like it had just picked the edges, the depth, and lifted everything out of existence. He snuffled along the surface of the wood, smelling the torn scent, smelling the flames, smelling, something he didn’t recognise. Like stone, but sharper, brighter. He shuddered and dropped to the ground beside the old tree. He didn’t like that scent. He didn’t like this area, with its not-there emptiness and its stripped-skin smell.

Curiosity satisfied as much as he wished too, and dared more than fulfilled, he scurried quickly back the way he had come, slipping into the shadows of the living trees with relief. He waited, as he reached the edge, listening for the strange creatures that were supposed to haunt these wide open areas, but he still heard nothing. Perhaps they had left, taken the trees and run away with them. He shuddered again and turned his back on the open area.

He had come to the edge, and more than that, he had gone beyond. Whether there were things that walked there, he no longer cared. No one could now call him a coward, and if he chose to never come back, they could hardly blame him for it, now could they? Matter settled in his mind, he scurried deeper into the forest, relaxing as the familiar darkness of the covering trees welcomed him.

Prompt: National Geographic Photo of the Day: July 19, 2007



by | Jul 19, 2007