For Part II, click here!
My mind was melting, unwrapping the core of what I once was. No longer obeying any rules of sentience or being endowed with life. I was trapped in a luminous prison, this body was not mine to use. It was only a vessel that was given to me as a cruel joke, only to then get taken away. The existentialism hit me like it was coming from a sack filled with ground fruit. It didn’t help that the Watchers proceeded to use me as a way to water the soil beneath the tree, at least waiting until the Laborers were finished.
I was the last piece to this forest’s unbearable puzzle. The repetition, despite being stuck here for only an hour now, made this process feel like an eternity. There was this wicked energy to the forest, like my existence owed it something in return. How do I address concerns to something that says nothing back?
Paralyzed and drained, I wonder if I could muster any strength to say something. As I was picked up by one of the Watchers I then ask with a dryness to my voice, “Hey, could…could you put me down?” The Watcher surprisingly reacted with its big void-gazing eyes. I turned from any visual contact with the Watcher as I gawk at the massive tree. The trunk was thick and the stem sprouted from it had elevated toward the heavens, bound with an equally tall wooden altar.
I was unable to understand how such a massive tree could stand in such a parallel position with this structure. As it turns out there were ropes tethered around the upper portion of the stem. Branches are grown to equal length, but were seemingly trimmed. What was disturbing to me were these small green orbs dangling at the top of the tree, an ominous nascence for this organic structure. The sight of these green orbs were agitating me, no longer was I dour…I was mad.
My body was slightly reverting back to normal due to this violent sensation, yet only for a minute. As I was being carried I whistled at a nearby Laborer and ask, “Hey, can you understand me?”
The Laborer slowly gazes at my wrapper as it then musters with all its strength, “You…should…not…be…here.”
“Clearly, yet here I am having this conversation with you. Tell me, who is in control of this forest?”
The Laborer gave me a vague answer, “A dark peel maintains a red blotch, holding on for dear life.”
“Oh no, not a riddle.” I try to peacefully transition to the next question as it still carries me, “Listen, how about you escort me to this ‘dark peel’ entity so we can have a chat.”
Still no response from the Watcher. “I cannot do anything, my face is the only thing that moves. Do not force me to make small-talk, because I will. I am very bad at it.” The Watcher obeys my order and slowly takes me deeper into the forest.
The Laborers and Watchers stop briefly to stare at me as I was taken deeper into the forest. I could feel a tension in the moist air, as if the forest was truly calling for me. The water droplets fiercely shaking on the leaves, the mist thickening, and the wind becoming more combative. Oh yes, I have truly made this forest deity upset. After a long journey, we finally reach our destination — a cave.
Unlike most of the forest, the entrance to this required pushing through thick discarded branches that had wilted leaves. The entirety of the walls keeping this cave up were remains of other trees that seemed to have died off. Near the center was a patch of incredibly moist soil that looked overly drenched. A single ray of light pierced through the tip of the cave and briefly blinded me. Once I brushed past the light I then realize what was in front of me.
It was another tall tree held together with a metallic altar, although this one was in worse condition. Branches were so long they were able to touch the soil beneath it. Leaves had tiny holes punctured through them, I did not want to know what could have done that. The ropes were falling apart as the support barely kept the stem standing upright. Yet what this tree had plenty of that the other tree didn’t were these dark red orbs, wrinkled too. What I am witnessing is the deity of this forest, a red multi-faced monstrosity.
The Watcher sets me down in front of the deity’s moving vines as it then abruptly leaves. I say to the departing Watcher, “I must thank you for listening to me, I was getting rather lonesome.” The Watcher for a split second turns around to look at me to acknowledge my cheeky sense of humor, and then ventures back to the forest.
There I was, face to face with the actual cause behind the Laborers and Watchers losing their minds. I attempted to gain the attention of the leaf-drenched leviathan in my paralyzed state, “I don’t know where exactly you are, but you know I am here!”
A loud voice ruptures from the tip of the structure, “We are aware of your presence you despicable and useless vessel!”
“How endearing, I get to be called despicable!” A large vine uncurls from the top of the tree as it lowers itself down to my eye level. Several other vines unwind as they all position themselves in front of me, with their strange dark wrinkly orbs in front of my face. Each orb starts to crack, revealing the faces of this entity.
Their shape perfectly rounded, bruised, and covered with deep wrinkles. All of them having small bright red blotches on their surfaces. The riddle from the Laborer had finally made sense.
The red orb in front of me spoke, “For something who ranks far below our authority, you sure have a way of making your disgusting presence known.”
“Maybe this wouldn’t be such a big deal if you would just talk to those who you consider as lesser. What even is your name?”
The red orb on the far left says, “What makes you think I will give you our name?”
“Did you refer to yourself as ‘I’?”
A slightly smaller red orb speaks up, “We appeared to have made a mistake. Do not concern yourself with our politics.”
“I’m going to ignore your fallacy. However, I am surprised at how enlightened you are.”
“Are you attempting to complement us so you can escape punishment?”
“Of course not! I only ask your name since my demise is not too far away, is it not?”
The blob-ish red orb at the top mutters with anger, “We’re not telling you!”
Suddenly the small red orb hiding beneath the blob-ish red orb says, “Trátaí-Rí.”
The sudden name reveal did not thrill the blob-ish red orb. I on the other hand was pleased to know that this deity had a name. “Ah, well at least I can say that I finally met the almighty Trátaí-Rí!”
The red orb at the bottom peaks its head to ask, “Then you know the might we yield, correct?”
“Is that what you call it now? You all seem to be scattered with your opinions and ideologies…”
A random red orb swings in front of me, “We carry a burden, which is to extend the lifecycle of this forest! Yes we treat the guests as commodities for the health of our lineage, but do you see that there is no other way? I dare you to fulfill our role and see how little control one being such as yourself has! Our lineage is the only lineage that matters in this forest!”
“I do not think it’s working considering how much of a mess the forest looks right now.”
“It is operational.”
“No, having all your Laborers and Watchers glued to one tree isn’t operational, it’s meaningless!” All I could do was gaze around the cave that is filled with a myriad of pale shapes and branches. Life that once was brimming in these trees were drained by this creature. “You could have had a utopia, a pantheon of deities such as yourself – instead you ruined those chances!”
This red orb continues to talk for the rest of the other repulsive red orbs, “You assume this to be a monotheistic forest when you are so-so wrong.”
“I just think you all are nothing but a mad batch of fools who think you all think alike. When in reality all of you are far more different than each are willing to admit.”
“You lack true understanding, did you not notice the tree the Laborers were tending to?”
It took me a second to realize what they were talking about, and then I thought of the green orbs. “You’re attempting to duplicate yourselves.”
“With the most potent nutrients, purest liquids obtained by the givers, and a boost in willpower. Our next life will be breathtaking.”
“Come to think of it, you also seem familiar the more I look at your ‘fascinating’ faces.”
“That’s impossible, we have never met before.”
A brief flashback rummaged through my head, during a long reprehensible phase when I was in a ivory-colored and cold room. There were multiple alien objects in this room, but among them was this clear prison with those pathetic red orbs. The weakness of these red orbs were revealed to me, so I ask the orb in front of me, “Do you remember your predecessors?”
“Why yes, they went off to fulfill their duties for a greater cause. It is tradition.”
“Then you should know what happens to them, yes?”
“No, why would I? I — ‘we’ are a great being with intellect that cannot be rivaled.”
“See, I have bad news…I was stuck in a bad place. They were in this bad place with me, looking like they were having a more miserable time than I was.”
I tick off the large bulb-ish red orb at the top, “You’re lying!”
The small red orb underneath the big one says, “Calm down!”
I continue to sow the seeds of anxiousness into the morons. This was to specifically anger the hulking red orb to see if it could pull the stem off the tattered rope. It was a far-shot plan, but one that could see the topple of this god the moment they make contact with the ground. “To be truthful I bring no evidence to suggest this to be the case, but a god knows when one is lying correct?”
In a fit of rage the large bulb-ish red orb attempts to reach me by thrusting its branch at me. I kept pestering it, “Suspicious, you seem to be upset. Care to explain why you look so expanded?” The derogatory remark was enough to get the red orb to thrust off the metal altar. Ropes were then snapped off as the entirety of the tree slowly crumbles to the ground.
Each red orb was greatly panicking, as did I since I had no plan for escaping. The stem as well as its branches had toppled on top of me, knocking me out briefly. I awoke to find myself underneath some hole-filled leaves and a strange moving yellow string with eyes. To my surprise I found myself able to get up on both feet as well as witnessing a corpse of the bulb-ish red orb. It was a gruesome sight, although not enough for me to not want to laugh directly at one of its faces.
After I finished laughing I could feel the cave start to crumble. The motion of the leaves and the droplets splattering on to the soil were warning me to get going. I then ran out of the lair of the Trátaí-Rí, not looking back. A crashing ‘thump’ was heard right as I left and the disappearance of the white noise. Then there was peace, the forest was finally safe again.