Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta trees. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta trees. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 17 de noviembre de 2017

Cry of death

   When rain came down the forest, it scrapped off the first layer of every tree. This gave the trees a really scary look, as if they were bleeding from their whole body. It was the reality of the world now, where acid rain had gotten worse. Plants and animals were having a very difficult time surviving the new state of things. In other parts it wasn’t much better. There was sand where there used to be farmland and many islands had disappeared far from the continents. It was a new world.

 Gaby was one of the many women that had decided to form a team to go into the forest every day in the morning in order to pick up as many fruits and mushrooms as they could. They were rare and fragile, so they needed the soft and delicate hands to pick them up from the ground or grab them from the tallest branches. The men, as always, had been doubtful of the enterprise at first but they eventually came around when noticing that everyone had to work in order to survive.

 Even children helped by fishing from the streams or picking up berries that were far more resilient that other fruits and would usually grow close to their camps. They had changed, as humanity had done before, into a nomad kind of people. They would built small towns from old plastics and some wood and stay in the same place for at least six months, at most a year. After that, they scouted for new places to live and then they would just move out, all at once, to start again.

 Gaby had been one of the first women in the morning team and she had already learned the many ways of the new forest. They carried books to check if what they were picking up could be eaten or not and they soon learned that many of the fruits that humanity had enjoyed for a long time, were now extinct. Mostly tropical fruits, but also plants that needed a calmer weather to survive. Maybe they still lived in other places of the planet but that seemed almost impossible.

 Animals, on the other hand, were rare now. Some smaller ones could be seen sometimes when walking around the forest such as rats and squirrels. They were resilient little creatures. But the tall trees had been deprived of other mammals such as monkeys and finding a bird was almost impossible. Their beautiful chants had been silenced. Nature clearly had no place for such delicate creatures anymore. It was a reminder that humanity’s days could be over sooner than expected. But people would still try to live another day, one step at a time.

 Gaby had actually discovered a small woodpecker she had found in the tallest branch of a tree, after picking up some chestnuts she had discovered by accident. She knew for a fact that many of the children and elders would love to eat such a strange thing but it was then when she saw the little bird, with a broken wing. She looked at it for a long time until one of her teammates called from her from the ground. Gaby opened her small bag and put the bird inside, hoping it wouldn’t make a noise.

 This has to be explained further. As bird reminded humans that their immediate future could be extinction, running into a bird wherever they went would be seen as a bad omen. People still had those strange beliefs that came out of nowhere. They were normally things based only on fear and feeling related to such contempt for things alien to ourselves. Birds became a sign of death and an undesirable future, so people left them to die when they found one, never minding the greater meaning of life.

 When she hit the ground, Gaby still had the chestnuts in her hand. She put them fast inside the bag and kept to her work for the rest of the morning. Some black clouds of rain loomed over them and it was decided they should be back home as soon as possible as they had neglected to bring special covers that resisted the acid in the rain. They made it in time and realized the men had also arrived, which was extremely uncommon as they normally spend their days in caves or deep in the forest, where the rain had trouble reaching them.

 They were all reunited in the biggest house in the camp, which was normally used for important matters. As rain started to fall, the men told the women that they had found something very strange in the forest. The women listened in silence, as the men told them they had discovered an abandoned power plant. They had investigated inside the place and, apparently, it was in perfect condition. It generated energy using the waters of a small lake, enclosed by a huge concrete wall.

 That was the problem. The rain, that was making a horrible roaring sound, was the one causing the huge wall to have small holes all over. This made the whole basin below a very dangerous place to stay and it was there they had been living for at least four months. The concrete wall could break at any moment so it was imperative to escape the basin to another place. For the last two years they had been following the same river, slowly, but it was clear they needed to travel further this time in order to find a proper place to live permanently, as nomadism was not sustainable.

 The women had taking advantage of this story in order to leave the food they had found in small pile in the center of the house. It was clearly not enough for everyone but they had all grown accustomed to the lack of food. It was then when Gaby remembered the woodpecker in her bag and checked on it for a bit, when everyone was looking at the men telling the story. She kept a chestnut for it and tried to close the bag as well as she could in order for the small bird to be kept a secret.

 Everyone agreed that it was necessary to leave for another place as a tragedy could happen anytime. They decided to pick up everything they could grab with them and start walking as soon as they rain had stop. Not everyone had fabric to protect themselves from the rain, but those who did decided to go back to their houses and prepare for the evacuation. Gaby was one of those, and she ran as fast as she could in order to properly check on her bird. She lived with other girls her age, but they didn’t mind her closing her door when she entered.

 She finally put out the little bird and noticed it was still trying to flap its broken wing. However, it seemed a little happier than before, maybe because it had eaten half the chestnut she had left for it inside the bag. She looked at it very close and the bird seemed to do the same. They kept their silence, only breathing slowly and moving their eyes from one place to the other. She was amazed to see how bright its feathers were and how small it was. But she knew it had to be different before.

 She took a book from her bookshelf and opened it in a page about birds. Although there was no picture of a woodpecker, it showed a similar bird and stated it was at least twice as big as they one that was curling up on her bed. It looked really cute right there, looking at her at closing its eyes, visibly tired but also happy to have had something to eat. It seemed so fragile, a little bit as the children of the small town who had no spark in their eyes anymore, just a glaring sad look.

 Then, Gaby heard footsteps nearby. She looked at the window and realized there was no more rain on the other side. Just in time, she grabbed the small bird and put it inside her bag, along with a few other things from her shelf, which made her seemed worried when other girls entered the room.


 An hour later, a large group of people was crossing the woods. They thought they had been able to escape their doom but then a strange sound was heard all over the woods, which made the woodpecker cry for the first time. It was a clear cry of death.

viernes, 11 de agosto de 2017

Too late

   Rain would fall for hours and hours. It seemed it would never end. The storm had been lashing out against the land for many days now and only from time to time it would feel like it stopped being so harsh. But then it seemed to restart again, twice as strong, relentless against anything living in the land. Even the oceans and lakes were in turmoil. Everything was upside down and people had begun to suffer serious shortages and problems, mostly related to food and general supplies.

 What families did was to ration food and try to consume as little as they could. They hardest hit groups were the ones where grandparents and small children shared a household. No one had the capacity to feed such a large amount of people and it wasn’t unheard of that so many people lived under one roof in that region. After all, it was very far away any big cities and that was the way people had lived for generations. Rain had never changed that before and this storm was no exception.

 So they had to make what they could with what they had, which wasn’t a lot but they made it last as long as they could. Fish, chicken and beef were kept like treasures and mostly vegetables were eaten because people could still try to recover some of those from beneath the mud. Some were pretty resistant like celery or carrots. So they consumed that first with maybe a little piece of actual animal fat every day. Pieces were slightly larger for children but that was not enough.

 Many children lived in those mountains and they were seriously affected by the rain. The poor quality of water to make their food and the amount of nutrients from what their parents could give them was simply not enough for them to be correctly nourished. After the first week, many children started feeling bad and many parents did the trip beneath the rain towards the small town nearby, where the only doctor in the region lived. He always had bad news for the concerned parents.

 They had malnourishing problems, very serious cases of infections and lack of proper hygiene because of the water being contaminated by damages to water pipes and so on. Many children died instantly, the others filled the few rooms the doctor had available on his small practice. He asked for help from other parts of the country but the roads were under water or severely damaged and no trains or planes could reach the remote location. They had been driven out of the world by the storm and had been let to die or starve for who know how long.

 When the elders started feeling as bad or worse than the young, people were in a general state of panic. It didn’t felt real that it was happening all at once. Some thought of the storm as a punishment from the Gods but others thought it was simply the chaotic weather changes happening all over the world. They might have not been the most well connected people in the world but many had television sets and they knew very well about climate change and what it had done in other parts of the world.

 After three weeks, an emergency team was able to reach them through the forest and then taking a very long path that made them penetrate a nature preserve. It was the only way to reach the small town and that was only because they studied several maps of the region in order to find that hidden way in. When they reached the only settlement in the mountains, they were able to tell people that a couple of helicopters had been sent before they left for their mission, but they had never called back.

 People were only shocked to hear this but only for a few minutes, because their families were suffering and it was too much to start caring for others at the moment. They needed the help the group brought them and that was the only way they could think of to change the state of things. So the volunteers, a group of fifteen men and women, got installed at the doctor’s house and started helping with vaccines and other treatments they had brought on big crates that had been carried by mules and themselves.

 Sadly, all they did was not enough to really ensure that everything was going to be fine. The rain wouldn’t stop and sick people from the most remote areas of the mountain range would come in at all time, very wet and sicker than they had left. It was a really sad thing to see for the volunteers and it was difficult for them not to be sick as well just by looking at all the despair and the human condition that was in display on that small community. It was hard and a test to their abilities.

 After a couple of days, it was decided that most of the group would go back to civilization. Only five people would remain with the doctor, in order to help with all the patients arriving and leaving every day. Besides, the townspeople needed hands to bury the people that had died and they also needed appropriate bags to do that because contamination of the water had to be avoided at all costs. The group also had to bring more people and medicines, a whole lot more than before. They left early one morning and expect to reach their destination in two days.

 And they did. However, they also encountered the crash site of one of the helicopters. The scene was gruesome and some of the helpers had to vomit right besides the wreckage because of the stench and the sight of things. They had to mark the place on a map, on their electronic devices, in order to go back there in future in order to collect the corpses and any valuables that could shed a light on the cause of the accident. But thunders above them reminded the group that the storm was the culprit, no matter the details.

 Meanwhile, in town, another tragedy happened at night and there had been no way to escape it: the mountain itself collapsed and carried several homes from almost the summit to the foot of the hill were the most densely populated part of the region was located. So bad it was, that the patients at the doctor’s house felt the rumble in the middle of the night and they alerted others in order to evacuate. But that didn’t happen because there was no other place to go besides there.

 The volunteers that had been left there had the very difficult task to find survivors. However, they soon realized that was not going to happen. They started finding bodies, after some of the mud and dirt had been washed away by the rain. It was gruesome to see their faces covered in brown or grey and their expressions of fear forever imprinted on their faces. That had been their last thing to do and it looked horrible. The volunteers, however, did what they had to do.

 People from town helped with blankets and also tablecloths and the dead were covered with those and then lined up in front of the doctor’s office. Then, one body at a time, they were carried to a clearing in the woods where the ground was firm. They had to spend several hours digging for a hole, but they did so anyways, in order to provide a dignified place to rest for the many people that had died at night, never expect nature would turn against them after so many years living there.

 It took one more week for more help to arrive. The condition of the trail they had used had decreased and the amount of things they brought was not easy to transport. Besides, many people on the outside world wanted to help, to do something for those poor souls.


 The storm ended two weeks after than, suddenly one afternoon. Clouds slowly floated away and the sun came back. But the lives of that community had changed forever. Death had covered them with its veil and now they couldn’t see a proper future in what had been their home for such a long time.

lunes, 7 de agosto de 2017

They speak to us

   If you stand in the bridge, you wouldn’t be able to see it. You have to walk south, by the great way. It’s a rather short walk. On the left bank, you will see a beautiful meadow plagued with trees that are not tall or especially beautiful. However, if you walk across the meadow, close to a wall that limits the growth of plants, you will see a small hill and three trees on top of it. The one with the straightest trunk, clean leaves, and no roots on sight, is the one I want to tell you about.

 Beneath that tree, a friend of mine was buried a long time ago. He was not especially strong or fit or brave. He was not particularly remarkable in any way. He was just my friend and that is the reason why that tree is so special to me. I’ve been there many times, at night and during the day, a few minutes and also several hours. And every single time I visit that place, I talk to my friend. Sometimes there is nothing to say, other times it’s different. It changes, as life happens to be.

 I like that meadow because the sunset look gorgeous from it, the golden rays from the sun seem to be touching your body in such a magical way. Even when it rains, the green field looks as if it had escaped a book of fantastical stories. It’s the kind of place where, in stories, ladies and lords encounter beautiful white unicorns and heroes lift a sword out of a stone. I wonder if thing like that have actually happened there but maybe it’s best not to know for certain and just imagine.

 It feels good to be there, laying on the grass and just hearing the wind caressing the greenery. Flowers are scarce but when you find one, it is sure to be one of the most beautiful botanical being your eyes have ever seen. So many colors and such beautiful designs. They make you realize how perfect nature is and how intricate life can be in order to create things that have apparently little to no value. That’s how simpleminded and stupid humans are, because we just do not understand.

 I’m not saying I do understand but, when I’m there, I do feel different than usual. Sometimes I feel my muscles are stronger than ever and some other times I feel it is my mind that has grown one full size, in intellectual terms. I have attributed this particular feeling to the fact that my friend is there, beneath the tree or maybe inside of it. I have a special connection with that place, that goes far beyond it’s location or the many ways the sun touches the leaves and the rain flows down the small hills. It’s just something that I will never be able to understand or explain.

 I never go to two of my favorite places at once but I do have another natural space where I like to relax my aching bones. It’s a prairie, many hours away by walking from the meadow. It’s on the outskirts of civilization and maybe that’s the reason why it feels so special. It might also be the fact that many great people died there a long time ago and the place became a graveyard, although not on purpose. There’s not a sign labeling it as such and there are not tombstones to read.

 You feel the presence of thousands of soul when you enter the prairie. That one, different from the meadow, is filled with flowers all over. As trees are scarce, flowers grow on the ground, big as the fists of a mighty warrior. The colors are unimaginable if one has never been there and the sound of many birds creates a wall of sound that no scream or weapon can pierce. It is very beautiful but it can also be a little bit too much, if the person doesn’t know how to handle it.

 I’ve gone there for many years, from a very young age. Family members were buried there for generations and I feel that my body will also lay beneath the many flowers of the prairie. It’s not a nice thought on my head, but it comforts me that, at the very least, my final resting place could be that beautiful place full of all many of the things that people in other places don’t really have anymore. Birds and flowers are considered wild nowadays and people don’t like that too much.

 There are no hills, no real elevations on that never-ending prairie. There’s just a road on one side and a road on the other. The rest is grass and flowers and birds’ songs. Nothing much besides that. I relax on the meadow but not on the prairie. The prairie makes me think too much sometimes, about my own mortality and about the many things I have yet to do in this life. It makes me feels I have little time, which is true, but I suddenly hear the clock ticking and it’s unbearable.

 When I go, I only stay for a couple of hours and then leave without a prayer or a word. I don’t talk to anyone there, even if a good part of my family’s bones has fed the flowers that live there. I don’t feel comfortable or happy there. But I don’t feel sad or persecuted. It’s just a very strange feeling of not being quite there somehow… I don’t understand it and I just go there when I feel I need to pay my respects, which happens when I take the road north in order to get home after several days of hard labor. I go because I have to, in a certain way, not because I want to.

 My final spot is not very far from home. I live in a beautiful mountain, which oversees the most amazing green valley you have ever seen. Only a small amount of farms break a beautiful natural landscape. The sound of the stream is the one that always tells me I’m only a few minutes away from seeing the faces of my family. When I pass the rushing waters, I can almost feel their skin on my hands, their perfume on my noise and their happy laughs on my ears. It really is home.

 When I’m there, I often take my family to the other side of the mountain. It’s a bit colder and rockier than the place we live in but somehow I really like it. It happens to be the border that separates our country, if one can call it that, from the rest of the world. Beyond the rocks, you can only see the tallest and greenest trees in existence. They make a kind of fabric that extends for several kilometers and then some more. Water can be heard but not seen and animals are the only ones populating it.

 There are no roads that cross it. No one really dares to go through the maze that is the forest. Some daring neighbors love to go there in the summer to pick up grapes, the wild kind, that grow on the outskirts. The yare very sweet and have a beautiful purple color and kind smell. However, wolves have been known to attack people that stay there for too long. It is not a place for humans to thrive. But it’s nice to look at all those leaves from above, while having a warm drink.

 I enjoy the view alone or with my family. We spread mother’s ashes there some three years ago and I still remember how the wind carried the dust the deepest parts of the forest. I stayed there, waiting for the cloud that was my mother to fall on top of the trees but the wind kept on carrying it away, farther and farther away from everything that woman had ever known. It made me think about her and about every single person I had ever met that was not in this world anymore.

 Those are my favorite places on this Earth. They are so different the one from the other but they do share the fact that I feel my people on them, I feel their hearts and minds and, certainly, they souls. They guide me still in this wretched world.


 I know I will become one of them someday. It might be today or tomorrow or in several years. But I know it will happen. In a very strange way, it calms me to know that they are going to be there, on the other side. And I will still be able to visit all my favorite spots.

viernes, 14 de julio de 2017

Encounters

   The creature had disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again. Its awful grimace was imprinted in their brains, a horrible smile that awoke their biggest fears and darkest nightmares. The only thing that it had told them was that the planet they were in was called something he couldn’t repeat in their language but that they could easily relate that word with something like “Somber”. So that was the dreary name of the tree filled planet they had appeared in, only a few days ago.

 The taller guy touched his chest, uncomfortable. He had failed to notice a small pain, for the last hours. They had been running and walking for so long, he had prioritize survival and had not really paid attention to himself or the news he had received fairly recently. It was kind of strange to see a man that had received news so devastating, just walking through a forest, thinking of what animal to catch next. The fact that he had a heart problem was the least of his issues.

 The smaller guy, on the other side, had been thinking about it all the way since they had appeared in the planet. He didn’t wanted to talk about it if his partner didn’t want to, and he had made it clear he didn’t want to talk about such an important matter, but it bothered him. The fact that something might happen and he would lose the only other person nearby was very difficult to accept. Besides, he felt something different from the times they were in the resistance and thinking about it didn’t help.

 Finally, they stopped walking when the sun set behind a snow-capped mountain. They had been following a path through a valley and now they were on the slopes of a big mountain. The good thing was the trees were shorter, so they could see more of the place they were in. The tall guy was the hunter that night, catching some kind of big bird, very similar to a turkey but with the capacity of flying. They ate it in silence and when the time came to sleep, they did it separately.

 They couldn’t really sleep though. Both of them felt they needed to talk to the other. But when one of them decided to open his mouth, an explosion could be heard across the valley. They stood up right away, grabbed their stuff and run up to the top of the mountain. It was very cold there but it was pretty nearby and it was the only way to get away from the explosion and, at the same time, knowing what exactly had happened. When they reached the top, the flames across the valley were easily visible. The wind seemed to be making it worse: the flames were as tall as trees.

 The two men looked at each other, but they didn’t know what to do. They could run away from the fire but something told them they should be right there to watch. After all, an explosion had ignited the fire and there was very little chance that it had occurred naturally. They stayed put and waited. The fire jumped from one tree to the other. Watching it was mesmerizing, as if the fire was alive somehow. It really looked alive, engulfing a tree and then consuming it in seconds.

 Then, the wind blew harder and it brought cold with it. The short guy caressed his arms, trying to stay warm. When they had disappeared from Earth, they had no clothes proper for such an environment. Only the taller guy had his backpack with him and, luckily, it had many of the weapons they had recently used to put up traps for the enemy. It had come in handy for hunting and igniting fires to roast the food. Then they both realized something about the flames consuming the forest.

 The short guy looked in the backpack and took out a pair of binoculars to check out the place the flames were consuming. Instantly, he grabbed the hand of his partner and look at him directly into his eyes. Slowly, he told him they had been eating breakfast there that same morning, on the other side of the valley. He said he recognized a tree so tall that it was a bit bent at the tip. The taller guy verified that himself and realized that couldn’t be a coincidence. Something else was wrong.

 They agreed to walk along the top of the mountain. That side of the valley had no snow but a very fast and chilly wind, as well as rocks that kept rolling down to the lower part of the valley. It was very tricky to walk, so they had to grab each other by the hand and try not to kill themselves while doing it. Sometimes they looked at each other, but they preferred not to do so because it made them think too much of home and those feelings and memories hurt more than any rock or cold wind.

 Suddenly, another explosion made them lost their balance. One of them had to grab the other harder by the hand. It was difficult to pull someone else up after walking so much but it was harder to think that they would be alone. As the flames seemed to be getting closer, they both regained flat land and ran as much as they could. None of them had no idea of why they were doing that but it seemed like the best thing to do was to get away fast. Eventually, they reached a cliff and they had to stop running. They started sweating even more when they stopped.

 The flames were close to them but now it seemed to be a single huge flame. The heat emanating from it was almost burning their skin but, for some reason, it stopped moving towards them, as if it had noticed that its heat was hurting them. The moment seemed to last forever. In their eyes, they could only see the red and orange flames, as if they were absolutely enthralled by fire. But, if they were to be honest, they had no intention of running anymore. They felt they had to be there.

 Suddenly, the flames seemed to be reducing their size. But as that happened, a creature emerged from the inside of the fire. It seemed to be very tall, taller than any human being anyone had ever seen. It was very difficult to know if it had any gender or what kind of creature it could be: aggressive or pacifist? Its skin seemed to be made of a material similar to rocks, the kind you find near a volcano. It was dark and seemed to be covered with as. Its eyes were red as fire.

 The creature got closer and just looker at them. It had a human form but maybe it was doing that to imitate them or to be less intimidating. If that was the case, it was failing miserably because the two humans it had in front of it were very scared. So scared actually, that they hadn’t stopped grabbing each other’s hand since the moment they had started running. They only realized this when the creature created a hand out of its own body and, with one dark finger, it pointed at their hands holding.

 They could have screamed or said something to the creature but they didn’t. The creature kept pointing at them, opening its eyes wider. Then, it pulled back, turned back into a gigantic flame and launched itself into the sky. From their point of view, it looked like a comet crossing the night sky. Eventually, it disappeared but it left a line in the sky and a certain sweet smell all around the forest. The place that had burned grew over night, as if nothing had ever happened.

 They woke up the next day, thinking about the creature they had just seen. At first, it seemed as if nothing had changed after they had encountered it. However, they started holding hands more and more, and they didn’t think about it for a second.


 Furthermore, they started talking more to each other as they walked across Somber, laughing some times and sharing their personal stories as they ate or cleaned themselves in rivers or lakes. Eventually, they fell in love. But that’s another story that I won’t tell right now.