The majestic tree, various meters tall, fell to the ground causing a tremor. Only animals realized what had happened, as there were no people in the vicinity. The tree had fallen because it was rotten from the inside and couldn’t hold any longer. It started breaking from the roots up and finally, one very clear morning, it fell causing various birds to fly away scared. The movement on the ground caused by the tree was felt everywhere in the woods and the animals knew exactly what had happened.
In time, the tree got covered in moss and, when time came for people to arrive to the region, they couldn’t conclude how much time it had passed since that tree had fallen. The explorers loved that forest because it was relatively easier to go through than any jungle in the other end of the world or maybe a very far away forest, locate in the middle of many mountains or something like that.
The explorers discovered some new flowers and plants and also new bugs, which wasn’t something difficult in such conditions. The place was very humid and animals were all over the place, even among a think haze that covered the entire forest. The team of explorers installed a small camp in a clearing and decided to stay there for more time than anticipated because the forest showed promise and they wanted to bring back lots of new data. It would help them tremendously at work.
The following day to them arriving, the haze had grown thicker and the trees seemed to be much more numerous, they seemed to be everywhere. Not that the forest didn’t have lots of trees but it just seemed like many more had grown overnight. The leader of the team decided to do maps of the area in order to be able to explore it more efficiently. He spent the whole day doing drawings of the area around their camp.
During the night, it was difficult to see anything and not even flashlights seemed to penetrate the darkness of the forest. Strangely, it was a very quiet place after dark and that made them a little bit uneasy. It wasn’t very common to find a forest where no bugs or small mammals made sounds or cries of any type. It made their nights even more alone, more filled with tension and insecurities.
They were already planning to go back to the city, even if they had decided days ago to stay a full month in the forest. The plans had not changed but it was good to talk about what they were going to do afterwards. They were only five people but they all felt a little strange in that place, in that situation. The forest had something about it that they couldn’t explain and it didn’t really made them feel good. That night, it was difficult for them to sleep.
The next day, it was as if the volume had been raised again. However, when they decided to use the maps their leader had done to explore the forest, they realized they were useless. The trees were not where the map said they were and now there were also big boulders covered in moss a little bit everywhere and they covered large paths inside the forest, making it very difficult to walk around and explore. Something was very wrong with that place but they couldn’t really say what.
Ignoring the problem with the maps, they decided the best thing was to tie a red rope around their waists and tie the other end to another person who stayed in the camp. As they were five, that limited the number of people going to explore to two at a time. It was efficient at all because other two had to stay there, sitting, making sure the rope worked in order for their partners to come back.
The fifth person would normally go around the camping site, without walking away, and check the place they had decided to settle in. As it was a natural clearing, it was very strange to see one and there must have been reasons for that. So it fell on the responsibility of one person to investigate why that space was a clearing and what type of bugs and plants grew there. That second day was very productive in that sense. Yet, it wasn’t much of a secret that they all wanted to go back home.
But the job comes first and they needed to finish what they had started. That second night, they wrote down everything they had seen. The absence of sound in the night also became a thing inside the large tent were they did everything. They started to talk less and less, only writing and making very soft sounds. They hadn’t realized it until the moment they left the forest some days later.
The third day, the forest again changed its configuration or that’s what it seemed. The most frequent bugs had also changed from one day to the other. The first day there were common worms and then the second there were blue caterpillars. On the third, there were large groups of butterflies that would for large groups on trees and on top large bushes that weren’t there before.
Humidity was another thing that changed every single died. The third time was the one their knees and elbows hurt the most. It was almost as if they had transported to an actual jungle except for the fact that the weather was not that hot. It was just how humid it was and how tired everyone felt after working for so many hours in those conditions.
The fourth day the most frequent bug they could find was beetles. And they were not only black but also green and blue and several other amazing colors. Some of them the ability to fly and it was frankly very scary to see them do that. The bushes had grown in number and several boulders that had cut off paths had disappeared or so it seemed. Everything was different each time and it was very challenging to get used to all that. But no one complained because that was their job.
The fourth night, they shared a nice meal but didn’t say a word at all. They just had been compelled to share a moment with each other but they respected the forest so much they didn’t want to speak and then ruin the whole harmony that was going on. Also, they really didn’t feel as they could actually talk in a normal register. It fell difficult to talk, to scream even. Many of them secretly tried but it was as if nature had taken hold of their vocal chord for the moment and it wouldn’t let them go.
Late that night, there was absolute silence until a single sound disturbed the whole moment: something had fallen very nearby, making the ground shake severely. Every member of the group woke up instantly and they all headed outside to check everything out with their flashlights. But it was useless. The haze was thick as always and nothing could be really seen beyond it. So the all went back inside but would barely sleep.
The fifth day was their last. They were planning in walking to the edge of the forest until it was close to nightfall and then just walk to the place were they had entered the forest. Their cars were there as well as the people that took care of the national park were the forest was located. It was very far from the clearing they had chosen to stay in but if they started early, they could reach it easily by dawn.
They looked for the fallen tree, the one they had heard the night before, but they never found it. Everything in the forest was calm and no tree appeared to have fallen. Humidity was not the same as the other days. It was almost exactly the opposite. The wind that blew through the tall trees was very dry, making their skins feel strange. They walked without stopping all day, not even for food. They hadn’t discussed it but no one was going to stay behind doing any more exploring. They had to leave.
The walk lasted for several hours and they begun to be very worried about being able to come out of there. The park’s entrance was nowhere near them, the forest had shifted again. They walked to different directions for hours until, with the last lights of the day, they found what seemed like another clearing. Had they come back to the same spot again? No. There was a license plate in the ground. And beneath it, metal on the ground.