As much as he enjoyed his sprint for freedom (for you must remember, this was the kind of disturbed man that took pleasure in minor near-death experiences), he soon tired and fell to a slow jog till he reached his looming saviour. As he crawled the final stretch, rasping, Louis reached out and touched his guardian angel’s foot as if it were from heaven itself. As his greasy palm rested on the worn boot, a thin layer of some form of membrane slid away with his desperate hand. Louis scowled and placed his hand on the boot again; only this time to receive more wafer thin sheets of what seemed like dried skin. His hands travelled up the stranger’s leg, until tiny white flakes trickled down upon his head. His hand gripped tighter, this time the flaky skin crackled away and revealed a think trunk of bone.
Well, Louis thought it was a trunk; the closest to describing the strange anomaly would have been a tree. What Louis had once seen as boots revealed to be roots grown from a dark, muscular tissue. As he gazed at the tree, the first thought that came into Louis’ head was:
As this was the wittiest thing he had come up with for months, he decided to stick with it. The Bone-sai tree’s trunk was comprised of twisted muscle tendons, dried skin and of course, bone. The three elements gracefully fused in a twisting pattern that twirled towards the sky in a majestic manner, leaving a magnificent yet horrific sight.
Louis turned around and collapsed to his knees once more; before him, stood an entire forest of these trees. The floor itself seemed to pulse as one giant, living organism. Blood ran in putrid, bubbling streams past the trees, where their muscular roots drank greedily. It was then that his other senses began to fall back into place, which left him gagging at the vile odour firstly coming from himself, and then of fresh corpses.
* * * *
Louis looked up at the sky as a dark shadow crept over his vision and a crow the size of a motorcycle swooped past his head, screeching as it ripped at the trunks of bone that shielded Louis from his twisted talons. Louis had been following a vein-like pathway for the forty minutes now; of course, he didn’t know the exact time he had been travelling and to him it felt like hours. He had learnt to savour the brief cool intervals from the giant bird’s shadow. Louis’ clothes were soaked in blood below the waist from wading through the rivers which intersected his path. As he approached another clearing in the forest, the shadows that flickered above Louis grew more frequent. When he looked up he saw a mass swarm of giant crows circling him, a cloud of black shifted and wavered as hundreds of crows glided above him as one, dark entity. They clawed at any other bird that came too close and picked fights over scraps of meat that a few ripped from the trees. Louis quickened his pace, unsure how long the trees would be able to provide a suitable defence against so many foes.
Louis had grown languid; he was fed up with this place. After walking briskly for a few miles he realised that the birds seemed only interested in following him, granting the occasional attempt at attacking him but failing thanks to the unnatural strength of the tree’s branches. He no longer noticed the smell or touch of the blood, sweat and vomit that soaked his legs. He had entered a state of mind where nothing existed but the road of blood. A crow flew too low and clawed against the fleshy trees, the power from the crow’s attack resulted in a tree crashing to the ground and knocking Louis to the ground, leaving him dazed. He roared in fury at the crow, which had now glided off and back into the cloud of black. He cursed the trees, the sky, anything that came to mind that was related to his prison. He bellowed at the top of his voice, straining his vocal chords till they cried reprieve. He stood, breathing heavily as his ears pricked to the silence that had fallen over the forest. A figure strode between the trees across Louis’ vision with unnatural speed. Louis squinted, trying to focus on the shape of what seemed to be another man. From the shadow of a nearby tree, a man stepped forward wearing a worn trench coat and clutching a bottle of cider. Louis’ mouth tightened through no will of his own, his eyes widened as the man raised his bottle and it twisted into an hour glass. He shook the hour glass and sand began to trickle down into its base. The man raised one finger to his lips, then stepped into the dark shadow of an approaching crow and vanished.
Louis’ lips relaxed and with no time to reflect on what had just happened, it seemed as if all the sky demons in hell screamed and swooped down, intending to break past the barrier of trees and rip Louis apart. Louis spurred into action, adrenaline replenishing his energy reserves. Trees came crashing down around him and a crow swooped down and missed his eyes by an inch, clawing his shabby jacket-turban of instead, it had proven useful for fighting off the sun’s glare, but now its usefulness had come to an end. His assailant screeched in frustration when it saw that it had been cheated out of its prey. More and more birds flew down attempting to maim him, but the trees provided sufficient cover whilst he ran along the veined road. Louis looked ahead and saw a clearing opening up in the forest. In one final push, he dashed to the edge of the forest, leaping over fallen trees and ducking from the beaks and talons of the birds above. As he approached the clearing, a crow scraped its talon down the calf of Louis’ left leg; in agonic response, he dived towards his reprieve and soared into warm, gritty sand.
Part Three Coming Soon