28. in which a tree attempts to eat danny

Two branches from the tree dove down to seize Danny’s wrists. Another root lassoed her free ankle. Suddenly, she was yanked upward by her wrists and suspended — limbs splayed — in the air. A knot in the tree gaped at her. As she watched, the hard trunk stretched with sudden suppleness, and the knot yawned open like a mouth. A groan issued forth.

Danny could barely think fast enough. The tree was pulling her toward that mouth. The air was almost moving almost too fast past her lips — her heart pounding almost too strongly in her throat — for her to speak. But she forced the words out. They were her only weapon.

She seized the first thought that came to mind and gasped it out. “A swarm of nanomachines severed the limbs from the tree!”

Her face was close enough to the open mouth of the tree that she could smell the cloying scent of the sap that dripped like spittle from its woody lips. A grey haze settled over the tree at that moment, and — one right after another — the branches fell. Thump-thunk-thunk-thunk-thump-thunk-thump! And a whoosh! of air through the leaves.

The offending roots also fell, and Danny with them. She landed under a heavy pile of branches, thoroughly entangled. If not for the Smart suit, she would have been crushed to a pulp and pinned. But, unscathed, she tore loose from branches and roots that still curled around her wrists and ankles, then pushed aside the boughs that trapped her. She climbed free.

Above her, the naked tree trunk trembled in shock and surprise. The mouth stretched and distorted. It wailed.

Instinctively, Danny clapped her hands to the sides of her face, only to remember that she was not hearing with her ears, but with the suit’s receptors. She lowered the volume of the input, and the screaming became a distant noise.

She took off into another run, bidding the swarm of nanomachines to follow her. It hovered just behind her like a small raincloud. The other trees began to scream now, raising eerie voices in echo. Wherever branches reached for her, the nanomachines instantly cut through. Danny ran through a rain of leaves a flying wood.

It seemed to Danny that she ran for a long time until, finally, the forest became once again quiet and still. She slowed to a walk. In the suit, she could have run much longer. She was not winded or exhausted, but only slowed now to take in her surroundings.

A creepy calmness settled over her. The trees here seemed to stand as straight as sentinels. When the smallest branches moved with the slight breeze, it was stiffly. The light filtering through the canopy reflected here and there off of the facets of the tree bark. It glinted annoyingly at her curiosity. Cautiously, curiously, she approached one of the trees. It remained still at her approach. She placed a hand flat against the trunk and marveled.

The trunk was a petrified monolith of shining brown, semi-precious stone. The facets of the bark were smooth and shone like tigerseye, while the crags of the bark were rough and dark. Her gaze scanned the height of the tree. She zoomed her vision in on the leaves above her.

Danny took a moment to realize what she was looking at. On the one hand, she saw spade-shaped leaves. On the other, she saw circuit boards. Hundreds of small, thin circuit boards.

The circuit board leaves quivered slightly in the breeze, tiny metal veins flashing in the sunlight.

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Creative Commons License
Christie “Iamba” Bailey


~ by iamba on January 4, 2009.

One Response to “28. in which a tree attempts to eat danny”

  1. […] — thick with age and full with leaves — began to sway angrily in anticipation. next page Christie “Iamba” […]

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