Dead and Dryad
A Horror Fantasy That Might Make You Hungry
Pain was the first thing that Eliyana noticed as she began to regain consciousness. Her mind started to drift back from the weightless void in which it had been wandering and into her bruised, almost broken body. Searing light flooded her sensitive pupils as she blinked gingerly. After so long in the darkness of her closed lids, her eyes needed a moment to adjust, if only to the dim light of dusk as it swallowed the sun on the horizon.
Every part of her ached as though she had fallen from a tall, tall tree and hit every single branch on the way to the ground. She couldn’t remember any events before being in the void, but she had a real and recognizable sensation of fear in her heart. Something terrible had happened, and as she dragged herself from prone to standing, she tried her best to recall what it was.
She leaned against the thick stone wall beside her, not trusting her legs to support her as she rummaged through her pack for something to eat. She needed something, anything to clear the fog from her eyes and her mind as her mysterious anxiety heightened.
The pack was empty. Luck was clearly not her strongest trait. She mustered her resolve and set off in the direction of the distant sunset to find something to eat. She gazed around her as she trudged over mile after mile of barren land in the night. She felt no spark of familiarity, nothing to tell her why she had this gnawing fear in her core, almost drowning out the pain of her hunger.
Suddenly, she saw a faint light blink into existence far ahead. She didn’t know from what reserve she pulled the will to grit through the pain and marshal her weary body into a sprint, but she did. Every muscle and joint screamed at her to stop running as though her very being would be torn asunder by the frantic motion. Finally, she conceded and resumed her slow and steady gait.
As she came closer to the twinkling light, she could just make out the shape of trees as she entered what appeared to be a forest. The trunks became thicker as the light got brighter, and a new bolt of fear shot through her as she wondered how she had seen the light in the first place. It should have been concealed by the forest and the hunger, pain, and weariness that dulled her every sense. But she had seen the light from afar. Instinct, she thought, it must be.
A moment later, her suspicion was confirmed as the scent of something edible twisted her insides in need and propelled her forward at a faster pace. She was following the basest of drives, the need to eat. There was another smell in the air, though. Something foul, as though the precious food she sought was surrounded by rotten vegetables and spoiled milk.
The odor of food drew her along, however, and she made her way into a clearing in the trees. Ahead was a small cottage built into one of the living trunks, the home of a Dryad, no doubt. All the better, as far as Eliyana was concerned. The delicious smell was making her salivate, and Dryads weren’t particularly confrontational. The resident wouldn’t mind sparing a few morsels for a lost traveler too weary even to wipe the drool from her face.
She could make out the source of the light now: a small fire with a cooking pot hanging over it. She made her way across the few yards of open ground as quickly as her shuffling limbs would carry her. She was fast approaching the cooking pot, and the delicious smell was making her stomach growl with eager anticipation. The disgusting stench was also getting stronger, but she couldn’t see the source anywhere.
When she reached the pot and lifted the lid, the reality of her condition finally set in. The steam from the pork and vegetable stew would have made her retch if she still had the capability. The soup was the source of the foul odor, and the delicious scent of food was coming from the cottage. From its residents.
She had no memory of anything before her death, and her decaying corpse was being driven by hunger. But part of her consciousness, of what made her Eliyana, was still trapped in her body. In that husk of carnivorous meat. The fear she had felt upon awakening was that of what she had become, what she had been denying.
She dragged herself over the threshold of the unsuspecting Dryad with the intention of feasting on his or her warm, tender flesh. Even so, she could neither face what she had become nor stop herself from fulfilling her new, grisly destiny. She thought of coppery blood washing over her tongue with that first bite. Of the sickly sweet squish of teeth tearing into skin and ripping muscle and tendon from the bone. These were the only thoughts she could find as her new predatory nature consumed her. She stumbled down the short hallway and into the bedroom to find…
A very ready and very confrontational Dryad waiting to the side of the doorway. She saw his chiseled, cold features gilded in the silver moonlight shining through the window. She felt a pang of hunger, and her body lunged of its own accord. She saw the reflection flash as his blade descended. A bolt of fear shot through her, and a flood of relief washed over her mind in the second before contact. She knew what was about to happen.
The void swallowed her with a wet thwack, and she saw and felt no more.
About the Creator
Michelle Truman | Prose and Puns | Noyath Books
I fell in love with speculative fiction and poetry many years ago, but I have precious little time to write any. It was high time I started making Prose and Puns a priority, starting with Purple Poetry, Auqredis, and the World of Noyath.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
Oooo this was fantastic! I loved the twist!
I look forward to reading the extended version of you ever decide to add a few chapters.
The title got me , great story and you have a subscription