[Darkness Ensues (Therian Tales) / Jomaris Rodriguez]

Therian Tales

The day was dark, bleak and carried a pungent odor not familiar to any of the residents of the area. A stench clouded the air, its sharp and sour nature leaving a trail that wilted everything it hovered over. One by one, each formerly blossomed flower bent as it shriveled in defeat. Grass was no longer green and prosperous; it now looked stripped of youth and health as one typically is in late adulthood. But this was not the result of the normal cycle of life and death, this was something far more sinister. Something unfamiliar, scary.

The entity, as it came to be known made its appearance only a few days ago. Before that, everything in the field was as serene as could be. The foliage was long and radiant, offering an abundance of sustenance for residents and flowers bloomed continually, no matter the season. Sources of food and water constantly renewed so shortages were never a concern. Most importantly, everyone got along and always made sure to exchange kindness whenever they could. In the field, good things were always possible and nobody ever questioned why.

If thirsty, a resident could find a water source with no problem, as it magically appeared. These magical ponds were scarce nowadays and it never even seemed to rain anymore. A drought was inevitable and the residents would have to find a way to adapt or simply move on. How would they adapt and just where would they go? These were the very two questions that prevented anyone from taking action.

Trees, laced with thick ribbons of vibrant green vegetation once scattered the entirety of the landscape. Large leaves dangled from each thick branch, offering shade to residents on a particularly sweltering day in the field. All that remained in many patches of land were long lifeless vines wrapped around trees, their weight tugging with an almost audible snarl.

The residents of the field consisted of an array of birds, insects and grazing animals. There was one human who inhabited the field, however. Her name was Jane and she had lived there her whole life. She had no known history and considered herself just like everyone else. It was as if she suddenly appeared in the field one day and was welcomed graciously by the residents.

Jane’s long mousey hair complimented her large doe eyes perfectly. It reached her waist, the strands collectively piling into thick locks coursing down the length of her back. Her life revolved around cohabiting with the residents and grazing just as they did. She never knew why she was the only one of her kind in the field and every now and then she would internally question it, only to later dismiss her doubts as unimportant.

It wasn’t until one day that Jane took notice of a cloud of hazy smoke rising from across the field. As she walked closer to the fumes, brown decaying plants became visible, with scattered bits of a tough grey substance on top of them. A stench accompanied the smoke, causing Jane to gag and take a few steps back. The smell was like nothing she had experienced before and made her wince with disgust. At that point the smoked decay was contained in that particular area and had not yet made its destructive presence known to the rest of the field. That would change shortly, however.

The landscape decayed more as the days passed and no matter how hard she tried to ignore it, Jane could no longer act like nothing was happening. Four days of destruction had passed and the patches of rot became larger. The putrid smoke now created a cloud of fog that encompassed most of the field. As she walked towards it, Jane felt light-headed and was about to retreat to where she came from but stopped as soon as she heard a shuffling noise. It sounded like it was coming from the other side of the haze and became louder. Jane instinctively reached towards the smoke and felt a similar sensation to that of her own skin. She gripped whatever it was and pulled it towards her.

#

Anna walked through the rough pavement towards the precipice. Beyond the cliff there was only a bright green color that could be seen and she was always curious as to what it was. Every day she thought about making her way towards the division and crossing, finally discovering what lay ahead. The cliff wasn’t far from where she lived and the long grass that grew from it made it hard to ignore. Each time she mentioned her thoughts to her family they instantly shut her down and prohibited her from investigating.

“Itʼs really not a good idea for you to go there,” her father would always say.

“All in due time,” her mother followed up.

Anna always wondered why no one would allow her to see what lay ahead. Her parents always stiffened their posture each time she mentioned it and constantly warned her not to go. The conversation always ended abruptly with a forced change of subject. Her friends on the other hand, displayed the same desire to know more about whatever was on the other side yet they never attempted to cross. Ana had pondered it far too long, she needed to know.

Anna’s life consisted of the same mundane routine of waking up and going to school, only to be surrounded by countless electronic devices that performed tasks a human could easily undertake. Everywhere she turned, technology flourished. Large robotic apparatuses carried books for anyone who had enough money to acquire such luxuries and if hungry, one only had to press a button available on most tabletops for convenient ordering. Whatever you wanted, you could get and with just a press of a button, it would come in a matter of seconds.

The world in which Anna lived was bleak and gray, with buildings and endless mounds of pavement sprawled in every direction. The buildings were of either a black or gray color and the sun was always covered by a dense fog that never cleared up. Every so often a slight ray of sun would show through the clouds, only to be covered once more by the dust the constant construction caused. Piledrivers and bulldozers were the norm as new buildings rose and old ones were demolished, only to be replaced by more industrialization.

In order to distract herself from the monotony of life, Anna watched a lot of movies. In these movies, she could always find the stimulation she never could get in real life. The world these movies portrayed was much different from her own, with green grassy fields and bright skies. Animals of all sorts also appeared in these films, making Anna wonder how the filmmakers recreated these sceneries and animals if none of that truly existed where they lived. She craved a world just like the one from the movies and the green color beyond the division was precisely what made her want to know what that other world really was.

As Anna walked, the pavement gradually wore away, revealing lush green grass that seemed to grow longer the more she stared at it. She walked until she felt the grass grow past her waist. The blades of grass tickled her and made her itch. She soon noticed a weird odor coming from behind her and turned towards the direction the stench came from. The landscape behind her was no longer green, but brown and lifeless. A cloud of smoke rose from the wilted landscape, its fumes shooting through her nostrils. The further she walked, the stronger the smell grew. Anna had not even crossed the line yet and she was already regretting her decision.

There was no turning back at this point, however. She had walked much too far to turn around. She had been walking for what seemed like days and was sure her family was already wondering about her.
The division was finally visible and looked even more jagged from up close. Annaʼs breathing became shallow and she felt her heart rate elevate to the point she swore her heart would burst right from her chest. As she lifted one foot over the line she heard the rustling of leaves and hollow footsteps become distant; someone or something had heard her. She tensed and decided the best thing to do would be to leave. She hadnʼt the slightest clue of what could be waiting for her.

She swallowed her fear, however, and slowly approached the line. A hand suddenly reached from the other side, violently tugging Anna in its direction. She looked into the girl’s large doe eyes, then noticed her long thick hair, which reached all the way down her back. Her skin was smooth and resembled that of a porcelain doll’s. Before she could open her mouth to say anything, fumes began to float from behind Anna, instantly decaying everything in sight.

In a split second, the landscape went from green to brown and trees began to litter the barren landscape as they tumbled over and smashed onto the ground. Various animals lay on the ground, all apparently struggling to cling to life. The doe girl let go of Anna’s hand and attempted to run off before the smoke hovered over her. She inhaled the haze and fell to the ground, here glued to the Anna the entire time. She took a few staggered breaths before closing her eyes; the life she once carried now withered just like the field. Anna had unwittingly destroyed this landscape. Before she set foot upon it, it seemed to carry an abundance of life that remained uninfluenced by urban decay. What had she done?

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