The threads of your imagination are a very tangled web. Tracing the sources of inspiration can be difficult as you poke the forgotten corners of your mind to see what lives in the dark. It is a never ending source of wonder to me that stories pop up fully formed, birthed by a random phrase or photo. Where were the stories before this? However, for the piece below, I think I can pull together some of the main threads, so here is a glimpse into what went into making this story.
The themes are post apocalypse, trees, and mutation to new species.
Post apocalypse – this is from the picture below, posted as a writing prompt in a facebook group ‘Elements of Genre Writing’. The darkness, the sense of some great catastrophe and the emergence of new mutations comes from this. It was also the trigger that drew together all the other ideas.
The transformation to a new species theme and trees are from a memory of an old fantasy magazine cover. I read this over and over as a teenager. The stories are great, but don’t relate to the cover, so I never knew the story behind the picture. But the anguish of transformation stayed with me, lurking, for 30 years. There is also perhaps an element of my fascination for tree spirits, dryads and Ents.
I also explore this concept in a novel, a fantasy sword and sorcery, which I hope to get published eventually. The druids all have different aspects of magic, and one has tree magic. When her magic is exhausted, she transforms to a tree as a resting time. It reconnects the magic bearers with nature, and reinforces their duty to care or the Earth.
The final part is that I enjoy gardening and have a background in geology and environmental science, and so the description of roots and nutrients reflects this, in an attempt to show what might be the feelings of someone becoming a tree.
So I hope you enjoy the story!
So it was true then, the cities were dead. They hadn’t lied to me. I had met many people on my travels, all seeking answers I for one could not give them. I shifted my backpack, wishing it was a little heavier, I had no food left. I had caught a rat earlier this morning, but had chewed the bones bare by mid day.
The wind whistled through the empty buildings, and somewhere in the distance a dog barked. Other than that it was silent, and I tried to imagine the place bustling with people, talking into phones as they waited for the lights to change. I failed. This place was beyond dead, the silence was taking over, nature was reclaiming the space.
At my feet the pavement was cracked, and grass and flowering plants were flourishing. I unlaced my boots, there was no one to condemn me here. My toes wriggled free and dived down into the cracked pavement, and I felt the rush of nutrients and deep water revitalise me. I stretched my hands to the sun and breathed in the silence. I had covered up that I had survived the fever; covered up the changes until I could hide no more, only flee.
The sun was warm on my face, and I smiled, feeling my skin roughen. I had tried to hide the bark that had grown, covering myself with heavy clothes. But now I laughed, feeling the clothes fall from me, the backpack straps burst as I grew. My fingers stretched out, caressing the wind, leaves forming in my hair. My thoughts slowed to tree time and I wait with endless patience as the buildings fail and the forest comes.