This is a collaboration I did with .hamnishe where we each wrote a segment for three minutes and then switched trying to build a story like that. Text that is bolded is what she wrote in those three minutes. Enjoy!
It was a chill afternoon. The leaves had almost completely vacated their high tree top homes and lay scattered like bodies on a battlefield. Sunlight was filtering through the hazy low bearing clouds making the whole world seem dimmer and more drab than it should have been. A brisk wind would start up every once in a while, scattering the leaf bodies and making the skeleton trees moan with swaying movements.
From the highest reaches of a great elm, a jay shouted (barked, really) a greeting. Or a warning? What was it that jays signified again? Was it the turning of the seasons? Or was it something… more dire? Amanthea shook her curls, willing herself to move along. No daydreaming on a day like today, not when so much depended on her alertness.
She stomped through the noisy leaves as fast as her tiny legs could carry her, stumbling over branches and rocks due to her hurried nature. Clouds were starting to roll in more swiftly, chocking the sun until it was no more. The wind raced past her, whispering a warning that something was coming. The warning was so quickly gone that Amanthia didn’t get to hear exactly what was coming, but she knew it couldn’t have been friendly. Trees rushed by her in an endless haze, the surroundings getting less and less familiar. She clutched the bundle closer to her chest and felt its warmth seeping out.
And of course she should have guessed, that the warmth crept beyond her chest.
“I mustn’t take it all for myself!” she chastised her trembling body, urging her arms to loosen their grip, but the bundle was so-so-so warm, and it was a warmth that pressed her chest and found her face and then her eyes.
Suddenly she could see the clear path glowing before her. Not the path she would have chosen at first, but… could it be that this one was clearer…friendlier?
Behind her birds scattered into the air, clearly afraid of something. Snapping branches could be heard a distance away, she hoped that taking this path was the right choice. Down a rocky slope she descended dropping down frightful distances. No matter how far she fell, a hand always remained on her chest keeping the comforting warmth against her rabbit heart. Eventually, she came to a ledge that was much too tall for her to jump down; she was trapped.
Looking up the hill, at nothing but wind and birds, she felt almost at ease, ready to lie down and sleep here among the trees as she had so many times in childhood. She shook her curls again, realizing that her fingers were tightly gripped were the core of the bundle, that she would be much more alert if its warmth wasn’t polluting her brain.
“So it can be dangerous too, it seems.” Amanthea muttered under her breath.
A flash of light sparked violently in the clump of trees above, and she gasped.
A woman with long brown hair, like dirt, stood above me on the rocks. Her dress was covered in moss, and bark, it almost looked like it was made of those materials, leaves swirling around her. She had an aura of that of an angel. Her voice was that of a stream smooth and flowing.
“Do not be afraid child. I wish not to harm you.” She spoke locking her eyes with mine. I almost felt at peace in her presence that I reached my hand up to her dirt stained ones. The warmth that I had been clutching to my chest flared up to the point it was burning me; clearly it did not trust this lady.
Her smile was warm though, and her soft gaze pulled my hazel eyes to meet hers, also hazel. And then the bundle in my arms seared, growing so hot so suddenly that I let out a small cry, and for a second I saw the decay that was in the woman’s skin, and in her very breath. Fear was newly restated in my mind. But her eyes were locked with me. I could not tell my shaking legs to dark to the side, to continue running as before. The bundle was burning furiously now, causing me to choke on the screams that were forcing their way up my throat.
Out of instinct I took a step back, feeling the heel of my foot touch open air.
“Please child, I mean you no harm. Take my hand and I will pull you up.” She sweetly said. My mind raced, as I kept clutching the burning warmth. By now it had started to pulse almost wanting to escape my hand. I had to think of a way to get away, perhaps the warmth could save me or at least provide a distraction. I lifted my hand and the warmth burst through my shirt, and shot straight into the hand of the woman.
The woman began to sob as the warmth flitted in her fingers. The small sprite her very likeness giggled and crowned her head in joyous light. It almost made me feel better about falling to my inevitable death. I slipped farther away from the rocky overhand where woodland mother and child were crying and dancing. They got smaller in the distance as the wind whipped ever faster past my ears. I would die, yes. My village, also, would surely perish from my failure. But if it meant that this forest would thrive—that it would go on, as if we settlers and our sickness had never sought its refuge—well, who were we to steal from the Earthmother her greatest joy? We would die, but life would not end for all.