Fairy Queen - Flash Fiction
As I go deeper into the forest, the trees get closer together. Thin trees with little to any leaves. There isn't an exact trail. I've been wandering for days in what appears to be a death trap put here by god himself. I was hoping to escape the forest before sunset. I was unprepared. The flora and fauna were dangerous, there was a poisonous feel to the air. I felt like this must be where the emperor sent prisoners, to go away from civilization and inevitably die. What was this abandoned forest? I'm not sure I'll survive here.
This forest is full of roses. The thorns will try to reach out and grab you with the help of the wind. There are deer, raccoons, and foxes, but they scatter as you draw near. You only see the end of their tails, you only see their eyes as they drift into dark caverns, those dark shadows, and underneath the brush.
I didn't mean to come across this place. I feel unequipped to survive. This is way too far from home. How did I ever get so off chart?
I have never seen such dark and beautiful flowers. Some of them are the size of my head. This place reeks of flowers. No matter which way you go, no matter which way you point your compass, this forest feels more like perpetual sinking sand than a feasible terrain. I'd rather climb the highest mountain or search the bottom of the ocean than be wandering in this demented garden.
I'm wondering if a human has ever gone through here. I'm wondering if anyone has ever given up, become one with the forest and decided to live here. All I know is that my arms are scratched up, my feet are tired, and I wish for something to quench my parched lips.
I almost think moving forward is worse than turning around or just staying still. Maybe I'm getting closer to the belly of the beast. Maybe when I get to the center of this place, something terrifying will happen to me.
The Thin Path
I found a path, a thin path where the rocks align. The flowers were blue here and the fireflies were darting about the path. I wasn't sure if I should take it; it seemed unusual compared to the rest of the forest. But I was tired of getting mauled by trees. I was hoping I could even find a nice enough animal that didn't run away simply from my steps. As I took this new path, twilight was almost over. The sky had a distinct dark blue to it, and the trees had white patchy pieces in them. The smell was not as strong as before, it was starting to smell sweeter. I could hear a brook before me.
And so I followed a bridge over the water and found myself at another corner of the forest. I felt like everything was blue. There was very little light for me to see. I started thinking I should build a fire and camp for the night. I went into the forest a little more, looking for a rest stop that I could trust. There were old stones there, some of them heavily chipped.
A statute of a woman was missing arms and its head, I assume from years of standing it had crumbled. I could hear the bugs there chirping and this strange sense that I was not alone. This area was in a clearing. It was wonderfully more open. As I studied the place a little more, it seemed like a forgotten settlement. I wonder if anyone has been in this part of the forest in the past year, ten years... maybe a century has gone by?
I laid on the ground. Crawled into my sleeping bag and looked at the night sky. The stars were vivid, I felt like a thousand eyes from the heavens were staring back and blinking at me. It's not easy to believe those are cosmological bodies. What if they're something else? Like the eyes of forgotten gods? Or all the eyes of one god?
Comfort in the Ruins
I can't remember much from my days studying astronomy. I wasn't a good student when it came to the stars. I should have paid attention more. It might help me know where exactly I am now. I'll just keep going in circles if I don't learn this forest.
Do stars play their own songs out in the sky? Does each star hum a certain note? I feel like the longer I stare at these stars, I'm starting to hear a queer melody. I feel like someone is playing a flute in the distance, as if the wind is playing with the trees. The fireflies seem to twinkle so much more now. I could easily be dreaming while awake.
That song seems to be growing louder. The flute. It reminds me of a spring day in the field, or visiting the king's daughter at the courtyard with the flowers, the balcony, the perfect vista into clear, gorgeous land.
Is this melody for me? Who is it that plays the flute? It sounds too structured to be only the wind. I turned my head toward the source of the song -- and I wasn't sure if my eyes were playing tricks. On a stump, there was a green outline of a woman, a small woman. Maybe four feet high. Her eyes were closed as she played an instrument in her hand -- an instrument I've never seen. And as she played, it seemed like the fireflies were dancing. They spread along the skyline, moving in and out in waves. Did this lithe woman control the forest? Did she control the fireflies as they dance?
The forest that had mastered me all day suddenly seemed more serene, as if it was in awe of the woman itself. I even felt like the stars in the heavens were softening. I wasn't sure if this woman was a kind, matron or a dangerous, witch.
The song of the forest grew -- as if the trees were playing strings, as if the animals' hooves in the distance were the drums. I had these visions in my head. I could see this woman in a village dancing with the people there. The miller with the bread, the blacksmith at the corner of the town hammering away, the apothecary, a hero learning to fence with his father. There was a warmth to this place. People from all over came to stay, to pay for armor, and to buy potions. I'm not sure what made this place gray. I'm not sure what happened to make the lives of the villagers turn to ash. All I could see was this young like girl playing her song on a mountain's edge as she overlooked the forest. I could see smoke rising in the distance -- and the girl jumped from the cliff in a panic -- and to my surprise, she spread out wings. Thin green wings and raced to get home.
But she was too late. The town was lost in a day. The fairy watched over the town. Wandering the ruins. Wandering and protecting.
When I awoke from my stupor, the green outline, the purple flowers in her hair, the twinkling yellow eyes -- she was staring right into my eyes. I felt like I had been listening to her song all day, as if she was the monster of the forest luring me in for the kill. I could see now that she wasn't fully translucent. Her wings were about two feet wide each. I'm not sure why this Fairy Queen summoned me here. I'm not sure if this vision I just had was of the past, if it was real, or if this is all some mirage. What if she's a monster leading me to my death?
If the animals before this den run away, then how could the center of the forest be safe?
As I danced with the fairy, I noticed a sword laying on the ground. This whole place started to feel familiar.
I think I was in a forbidden place. This fairy before me, it reminded me of a cherubim from an old story. All I remember now is in the legend the garden was placed somewhere with a cherubim and a sword made of fire. What a lonely job to be protecting something no one would ever be allowed to see. I'm not sure if I've ever heard of such a lonely existence in all my life. I always wandered who would be sent to be with the cherubim.