Spooky Stroll & A Story
Head into the forest. Anything's possible.
Greetings! Welcome to your next reading experience. My name is Mystrella, and I'm here to keep you on the right path in these tricky woods. My friends may help, but I wouldn't trust Cat, and keep clear of Spider, unless you want to get caught up in her story web. Now then, If you've gathered your wits, follow me through the trees. Step lightly upon entering the forest landscape. You wouldn't want to disturb anything we'd rather stay asleep.
Colors burst amidst the buzzing of letting things go. The cycle turns, and the forest radiates magic for those who see. For those who do not, you will.
Meow, human. You meowst likely need directions. I could point the right way, but that's not meow style. Take the road through the middle of the dancing trees. There you'll find Snake sipping soup at Cottage #5. Ask him to tell you which way to go. If you're lucky, he won't bite. If you're something special, he'll give you a hiss. Meow.
Cat has sent you awry! As cats often do. Now you're caught in Spider's story web, and you must read your way out.
If you guess who at the end, you'll be unstuck.
The story you're tangled in is;
The Flower Monster
Consider me Cornerstone Owl. I may or may not care. Stay or don't, the choice is yours. I've a tale to tell. But only if the rain persists. It's the chill in the sweeping wind that stiffens the vine, that's the buzz around here. Listen. Creaking bones of bark and burrowing bug, more or less paper flesh, or so the story goes.
In a time of none, and a half turn of spin, by the throat of a running river, six twinkling loves gathered under the shadow light of the blood moon to tell fantastical stories to each other.
It was only at this moment they could have been there. For the loves were always one, but this night it wasn't so.
What's a love, you ask?
The answer is who.
The six loves were all the same, but each was very different. They mingled under the dangling tips of a weeping willow tree, devouring their grand tales, savoring the sweet, sour, bitter, biting, story flavor; loving it, as any love should well do.
The stories grew wilder and more outrageous as this night went on. The six loves delighted in their cleverness at evoking emotion in one another.
Scenes swirled off on tangent plot lines; characters faltered and fell. Chaos reigned, while flames of tongue-tied endings shifted like dancing shadows.
The loves bellowed and howled, compelling tales of woe and wonder from their very essence, rattling dark skies, raising the wind.
In all the joy and pain, the loves lost track of themselves and became caught up in their web of stories, they forgot which they were.
They paired off, picked sides, pointed fingers. The loves switched allegiances, held each other up and shot each other down.
It was a time of storytelling madness.
What the six loves didn't know while they were wrapped up in their blanket debates and steal away intrigue was that an unknown creature was spying, and her eyes were on them.
The creature crept from vine to vine around the weeping willow tree, slithering through daisy stems and into the skins of shivering red berries.
She burrowed into the swath of tangled roots underneath the ground where the storytelling loves flitted about, waiting for the right moment to strike.
For the creature, whose many dark eyes peered out from the vast thicket of nature, was also free to be herself this night.
And she felt a rumbling hunger for love.
The six loves twinkled and flashed their iridescent synchronicities and asymmetrical sneers as they circled themselves in contradiction and high drama, setting the stage, only to be replayed.
The creature made her move.
In the midst of a fiery verse the ground cracked open and a strange plant burst forth from the forest floor. It brought a tantalizing scent, as a spindly gray stem rose up to reveal a pale bud poised at the tip.
The loves ogled at the beauty before them, each proclaiming how enticing and mysterious it was. The stories stopped for the moment, and the loves focused on the delicate bud.
The bud's folded petals shimmied, and the creature's delight churned deep within her core. The loves had fallen under her spell.
And it was her pleasure to swallow them up.
The creature wasn't strong enough to catch the loves when they were one, but this night they'd forgotten what they are.
And, even if you don't speak owl, I've answered that for you.
Who knew why the alluring treasure had appeared? Which of them was right? How could one trust the other?
The simple truth evaded them; the six loves were easy to trap.
"It's a sign!"
"Mayhem stirs the stars."
"A gift for me!"
"This could be a trick."
"You're all mad. It's only a flower."
Of course none of them knew the right answer. The divided loves couldn't possibly decide anything on this night.
The flower monster's gut grumbled and her delicate mouth opened wide, petals spiraling into a tempting display of sweet smelling bliss.
The creature had the loves in her grasp.
They oohhed and aahhed as the pale flower blossomed under a bright full moon, casting a star-shaped shadow on the ground.
The fourth love leapt into the flower's glowing center.
First and third followed close behind.
Second and fifth fumbled in.
The sixth slid down smooth.
The flower swallowed them deep into her roots, drinking their charged emotions. With each love that fell in, the creature's force grew brighter and more visible under the skin of tangled vines and tree bark.
After the flower had devoured the loves, the creature felt happy and sated. The wind teased, tossing leaves about. Stars overhead burned brightly, forever quiet and watchful.
The creature could feel the six loves floating in her space— pure energy. Now she was master of stories, and there was a new one to un-tell.
The flower closed silky white sails. Its head dropped off, shriveling up as the ground rumbled and raised, then took form.
The creature was born into the waking world. She was everywhere, all at once. Each vine, root, and tree was she.
Wolves howled in the distance as the creature moved through the forest, a dark form made of stick and rock. Animals scurried over and around her while she walked, a wicked wind sweeping her wake.
Flower power was unleashed.
One small detail was missed by all on this night. The six swallowed loves hadn't known it, and neither did the creature.
But you, dear reader, are in the middle now, and that's where story magic is understood. It's the loophole in the dream; truth lies betwixt the lines.
While the sequence of events transpired on this night, another love kept a low light, watching from the shadows.
This love didn't tell stories, instead liked to listen. The six other loves never realized its presence, as the lone love had kept hidden from them.
But now the love would have to remain solitary for eternity. The rest of the loves were gone. There would be no more stories to hear.
Following the creature's path, the love trailed behind, plotting plans to rescue the six swallowed loves from the belly of the flower monster.
Know this; it's true that all real things recognize themselves, and it's important to remember never to run from anything immortal— unless you want to attract its attention.
The creature settled herself by the edge of a clear pond. She touched her twig fingertip to the water. Ripples circled out in expanding rings of glowing green iridescence. Curious fish heads popped up from the depths, bobbing their bubble eyes to see what they'd smelled. They flapped their fins, splashing a watery cheers. Snake lips slithered off and the creature stretched out in the early morning sun. Squirming earthworms shimmered like hair, as hungry birds swooped down from above and picked them out.
Blue sky. Fluffy clouds. Buzzing things.
Flowers began to pop open everywhere. Colors of inconceivable hues burst forth from the earth; the sweetest scent sailed on the breeze. The only story now was no story. The un-telling had begun.
The creature relaxed, and peace settled over the land.
The lone love panicked. The creature would never go back behind the scenes. She, a mystery like the loves, was a part of the whole— as everything is— but unlike the loves, there was no other like her. So, when the creature took form, she understood who she was, and what she'd come to do.
And she did it with ease and joy. For the creature loved the loves. They were delicious, only their stories had turned rotten.
The lone love approached a deep purple blossom by the foot of a breathing mound of earth; the resting flower monster.
The petals shuddered, and it opened a bright eye.
The lone love felt frightened, but turned up its low light.
Because this love did not tell stories, rather found purpose in listening, its energy was different from the others.
The flower sensed the love; petals shivered.
Throwing caution to the wind the lone love leapt into the blossom, letting go its untold story while descending into the dark abyss of the flower's gut.
The creature opened one stone eye and shifted uncomfortably. She turned again, rocks tumbled down her shoulders.
The birds flew off and the wind picked up. A mountain roar echoed in the cave of her throat. What strange energy was this?
The creature suddenly felt agitated. She needed to settle down. The loves were gone. There were no more stories.
But this bite of love had a different flavor. One she hadn't tasted yet.
The love fell into a fall, only to fall again; all the while paying keen attention to everything it felt while being digested by the flower.
The six loves circled in darkness, clinging to each other, trying to stay connected in the vast unknown depths inside the creature.
Their glow flickered as the lone love soared toward them.
The loves became excited when they saw the twinkling light in the distance. Something was coming to save them from nothing.
When the love drew near, the others gasped, for they'd never known there was another of their kind. They embraced as they told of how they were tricked by the flower monster. The seventh love let the other six tell their stories, then, for the first time, spoke, revealing to them the way out.
They all listened.
The creature stirred, fidgeting with sticks, skimming stones across the water. She felt fussy as she swished bees away from her brow and brooded.
What was it about that mysterious love she'd eaten?
The feeling in her was prickly and peculiar, spindling out here and there; sharp and edgy— danger at its point.
The creature relished the sensation, and she felt hungry for more. Without realizing it, she seeded an idea. Her simmering thoughts tended the plot, and once a seed is planted in rich soil, it's bound to grow into itself.
One day, a seedling poked out of the earth and stretched its first spiny leaf. And in no time, the plant grew strong and produced a bud.
The creature didn't notice the new ornament she'd sprouted. She'd been caught up in her desire to taste the strange love again, and hadn't been able to rest since she'd swallowed it.
The flavor lingered in her earthen mouth like splinters.
Energy flowed from the creature into the plant, and it listened to her waxing and waning moods, feeding off her intense power.
On this night, the flower bloomed. The creature caught a whiff of the tantalizing scent of love. Her mind reeled. She felt a bubble burp in her swampy heart and her roots tickled.
Hunger for the last love's secret flavor seeped into her rocky bones, and the ground thundered as she raced toward the source of the smell, only to find the prickly head of a lonely purple flower.
The creature was confused. Why did this flower reek of love?
She bent down and picked the head off with her twig fingertips. The blossom burst open and seven seeds launched, sailing off on white wisps in the wind.
The loves were set free, and upon entering the waking world, remembered who they were. The lone love needed only remind the others of the truth they'd forgotten—and when frightened, they'd listened.
Once the loves were together again, the creature vanished from the scene; fading back into the shadowy heart chambers on the flip side of mind.
A thousand wolves howled at the darkening sky and rain began to fall. The ground settled. The flowers faded, dropping their dainty, bright petals.
She was gone. The loves had won.
For now, the creature bides her time, keeping the flower monster at bay. But she watches from the shadows, waiting for another night to catch the forgetful storytelling love bugs and savor their flavors again.
But this night is uncertain, and to be continued...
If you can guess what the six loves forgot, you'll be set free.
You know who is right.
Now you are released from Spider's web, and you've found Cottage #5. You must be something special. I bet Snake will give you a hiss.
To find the path out of the forest, you must seek the secret water and hear the nymph's question. If you answer correctly, she'll point the right way home. Only the cleverest humans can pass. Be wary as you go.
Shifting shadows light you see, matters not what it be. Summer beams in the sun. Winter snow is sure to come. Spring blooms and flowers pop. Fall is when these do drop. Tell me, what falls in fall?
Speaking of leaving...
About the author
Jess Haight likes to be a writer and artist. Animals, rocks, and books are her jam. She was probably the town lamp lighter in a past life, either that or a crow. Both sound fine to her.