Danny's Story

27. in which danny is rooted from her spot


Thunder rolled off over the treetops, and the trembling of the earth stilled. Whatever the humans had been planning — whether the plasma assault had been an experiment in tactics or a last, desperate attack — they had failed. Completely.

A relative calm followed the explosion. She had the sense of being profoundly alone with the forest. The last of humanity. The final hope. She braced herself against the trunk of the tree and narrowed her thoughts. She was armed with all the weapons of her imagination — and with the forest’s own name.

Danny’s quiet reprieve was short-lived. From above her came a sharp creaking sound like tree branches complaining under a heavy wind. The trunk of the tree that she was pressed against began to shift under her palms, and the ground underneath her feet suddenly shuddered. In startled dismay, Danny looked up. A thick branch flew toward her like a whip.

Danny dropped to a roll. The branch punched into the ground — close enough for some of the smaller leaved branches to whip against her. In an instant, she was on her feet and running. Another branch whistled through the air. It cracked sharply behind her like a whip, but she was free of its reach — barely.

All around her, the trees came alive, stretching as if suddenly waking from a deep sleep and then quickly bowing for Danny as she sprinted past. The forest was a blur as she ran, dodging whip-like limbs. A giant root in her path ripped free of the ground and rose to meet her. She dropped to the ground and slid past it on her belly under a rain of dirt. Without losing an ounce of her momentum, she sprang back into a run.

She didn’t get far. Something heavy clubbed her across the back of the head, and then she was tumbling over the ground. She landed on her back in time see the root plunging toward her. With a swift scissor-kick, she flipped to her feet and leaped up just as the root lashed the ground where she had been. The tip coiled on the forest floor and then struck toward Danny’s retreating leg like a cobra. It snaked around her ankle and squeezed sharply. Her body seized mid-air, spun, and hit the ground.

Her world became a topsy-turvy chaos of dirt and light and movement. For a moment, directions lost meaning. Then, gravity settled in. The ground zipped past underneath her body. Her vision was a blur of earth, green vegetation, and light.

Danny found the broken earth beneath her with her hands. She pressed into it and managed to flip onto her back. The world suddenly made sense again as she found herself looking up at the treetops rushing by and at her raised ankle that was being dragged by the thick root.

Her gaze traveled the length of the root, and she found that she was being reeled in to a very large, very old tree. The tree’s branches — thick with age and full with leaves — began to sway angrily in anticipation.

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Christie “Iamba” Bailey