Blackberry Rose

He stands at the edge.

Another dead towering tree stand.

“Today is the day” he says.

He says the same thing every day.

Steps in.

A broken branch here.

A broken branch there.

He marks his trail.

Broken branches fill all four corners of the blackened forest.

Even so.

There are many places he does not know.

Still has to go.

Places he is too scared to go alone.

Places full of hate and rage.

Places where secrets seem to be kept.

He hears hushing as he walks past.

Sees big hands covering little mouths.

Disappearing innocent onesĀ into the dark.

At least he thinks he has.

Maybe.

He thinks.

It is best.

To think thatĀ he is just making these dangerous things up.

Most days are the same.

This day is no different.

He starts from where he wants.

Not from where he must.

His search is circuitous.

Not grid patterned.

Not like it would be if he was serious about seeking what had to be found.

He goes from blackened tree to blackened tree.

Lays his hand on each.

Imagines their former magnificence.

Measures them up.

This one’s too short.

Snap!

He breaks a branch.

This one’s too thin.

Snap!

He breaks a branch.

This one’s too burnt.

Snap!

He breaks a branch.

Moves along.

All he knows is the name of the tree.

A voice inside of him speaks it.

Repeats it.

Tells him to seek it.

He knows not its genus.

Nor its species.

No one was around to teach him these things.

No guide.

No mentor.

No matter the voice promises.

When he is ready.

He will see it.

Onto the next tree he goes.

Deeper and deeper.

Darker.

Denser.

The forest grows.

Down on his knees.

He crawls.

Over.

Under.

Into a thicket of blackberry rose!

The smell.

The taste.

Intoxicates.

He pushes forward.

Loses his way.

Thorns and vines tangle him up.

Trip him into a clearing.

Glaring light.

He shields his eyes.

It stands tall.

Gigantic paws.

Fearsome claws.

It grabs his right horn.

Hoists him high off of the ground.

roar

Bellows.

Long and low.

Folds of phlegm vibrate and stretch.

Death pollutes its breath.

It drags him back into the forest.

Where he no longer sees any broken branches.

It comes to a ledge.

Dangles him over the edge.

Iris to iris.

It measures him up.

Not ready.

Not yet.

Snap!

by-the-horn

Pain receptors scream.

Blood streams.

His head grows weak, weary.

His eyes roll back.

He free falls.

It seems like forever.

Into the black.

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