Prompt: A sentient mobile tree creature tries to comprehend things outside the forest.
The object fell at an incredible speed, faster than any bound, flight, or slither the Dryent had ever seen. It fell so fast that it caught fire, but then it slowed itself down enough to quell the flames. Still, the impact was powerful enough to strike the Dryent in the side of its head and rip off one of its main five branches.
The Dryent leaned in the direction of the crater. Its roots gave way and it fell, bark-covered face landing very close to the warm glowing object that had uprooted it. How could something so small be so destructive? The Dryent didn’t move at first, because it hadn’t moved on a visible scale in its entire life. For the most part it just looked like a tree. It acted like a tree as well, though it was quite different. It had the capacity to be unlike a tree, but its potential was untapped until the object ripped part of its head off.
The Dryent felt no pain, at least not yet, but it realized something. All those little satisfied feelings, the ones that convinced it to stand still, to drink rain, and to never join birds in their songs, were kept in the now-severed branch. It didn’t feel them anymore. Now it felt like moving. The Dryent split its trunk in four and rose on the limbs. It rubbed the splinters off its wound.
Moving wasn’t so bad. No wonder animals did it all the time. It tried a step and nearly fell over. Another step. An actual fall. On its hundred and thirteenth try it succeeded in walking with its stilt-like limbs. It couldn’t go far though. The capacity to investigate occurred to it. The Dryent found its way back to its hole in the dirt and the nearby crater. It reached down and picked up the object, still hot from its travels.
“Hello,” it said with lips dripping pebbles. The Dryent turned it over in its branches, gathering the details. It was a rock of sorts, but it had a face. It’d never known rocks to have those. If so, perhaps it would’ve had somebody to talk to over the centuries. Oh. The Dryent could talk as well, without all the inhibitions in that pesky branch.
“Hello,” it reciprocated. “You struck me in the head.”
“It was fuuuuuun!” the rock declared and giggled wildly. It nearly rolled out of the Dryent’s hands. It fumbled to keep the rock steady, nearly knocking over a few of its kin. “They’re going to have so much fuuuuuun!”
“Who?” the Dryent asked.
“My friends! I fell first because I’m the best. We’re meteors!”
“I’ve seen meteors before. They didn’t have faces, and they left me be.”
“We’re magic! Somebody in space gave us magic. How’d you get it? I’ve seen trees before. This wasn’t my first fall. I told you I’m the best right?” The best at falling? Did you remember? You seem forgetful.”
“Oh, it was a long time ago,” the Dryent said. Luckily, those memories weren’t in its shriveling separated branch. It happened nearly fourteen hundred years ago. The humans still had magic. They hadn’t banned it yet and buried their supply deep under the ground. A few other trees, the oldest, could occasionally tap into it thanks to their deep roots, but the Dryent was different. It got its magic from a clumsy wizard with syphilis whose brain damage caused him to trip and accidentally cough some magic up on its bark. After that, it was the Dryent. It was smart, and it was lucky that no other humans came by in all the years after.
“There they are,” the meteor said, glancing far above the Dryent’s remaining branches. The tree looked up and saw a flock of bright spots. They grew. “Wow, they’re going to wreck this place. Totally wreck it. Magic style.”
“You mean my forest will burn? And die?”
“No… they’ve got a different angle. They’re not going to hit the cushion like I did. Thanks Cushion, by the way. They’re going to hit… over there.” The Dryent followed the rock’s eyes. It walked the rock out past forest’s edge and into the neighboring meadow where the dragonflies danced, glinted in the sun, and mated. The Dryent gasped, and then gasped because it had never gasped before. A city. How long had that been there? It remembered the babbling of the wizard. Lots of humans lived in things very tall and without leaves. It had to be a city. It was shinier than the Dryent expected, but there was no doubt in its branches.
“You have to stop them!” the Dryent shouted. “Things more fragile than these old limbs live there! You’ll kill them!”
“Oh I can’t stop them. They follow the leader. I’m the leader by the way. And I’m down here. In your hand-thing. So… no can do.”
“I’ll do it then.” The Dryent ran through the tall grass, towards the city. All the while it tried to think of a solution. It could only block three or four of them with its own body before succumbing to impact and fire.
“Oooooh burn and break,” the meteor sang as the Dryent ran, “Smash and maim. We fly through space, that’s our game. You will die. You will leave. We have our tricks, but no sleeves.” The Dryent put its hand over the rock’s mouth. That was enough meteor talk.
The tree had to stop halfway there. There was no chance it’d even reach the city in time. There had to be something it could do. Movement. Limbs. These things were all new. Its body was a tool now, not merely a home. That was how the industrious humans built all their complex tunnels and garbage piles. It had to think, and for once it didn’t have infinite time to do it. It pulled its hand away fro the meteor’s mouth.
“You said they always follow the leader?”
“Yeah, and I’m totally the…”
“Yes, I remember. Well. Have fun. Earth is a planet of trees, and occasionally having a very good idea.” The Dryent reared back and poured the might of centuries, the power of wood resisting floods and lightning, into the limb holding the meteor. With a powerful grunt it hurled the meteor back into the sky and out into the dark.
“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” it shouted. The glowing dots turned a moment later, following their leader. The Dryent thought about the hole it left behind. Should it return? It thought the throw, its first, would’ve drained its ability to move. Yet, it stood. It stared at the city, and then walked towards it resolutely. The humans would want to celebrate their savior.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Grover_R during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!