Title: The Last Forest
Author: A. L. Butcher
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Dystopian/short story
When humans come to fell the last forest, they are in for a nasty surprise.
A short dark fantasy tale of the wrath of nature.
The whine of the chainsaws, and the rumble of iron machines cut through the growing sound from the forest. Death came on tracks of metal and wheels of rubber. The monkeys who commanded the machines waited, smoking and pointing towards the edges of the forest. “Where do we start?” one asked, eyeing the trees.
“Make your way to that big old one – the tallest. That will take out plenty when it falls. Look it’s three-quarters rotten anyway! Break the heart of the forest and tame it! That is how it’s done, lad.” The speaker pointed towards the Great Oak, satisfaction creased his face, and power gave his countenance a smirk. The monkey who walked on two feet was lord of the land and knew it well. He had brought death to flora and fauna of this land, and their sap and blood-soaked the soil. And he ignored the cacophony of music around him.
“This is the last patch of woodland in the country, the only unspoiled wilderness left,” someone said, from the back. “Must we?”
“It’s coming down. It’s needed for houses - people are more important than trees. They are just plants.” The foreman glared at the speaker, as the wind began to blow around them. “It’s not the last, there’s that coppice over in Haydock, and the Amazon of course.”
“The Amazon went a decade ago, boss. And that place in Haydock was bulldozed last year.” The first speaker reminded him.
The boss shrugged. “Not my problem. We have our orders. Now get to it, there is no place for conscience or sentiment here.”
The machines snarled, they spat their poison breath and rumbled forward, inexorable, awful. Monsters of modernity, some had called them. Progress had been their name from others. All the trees understood was the choking stench and the inexorable roar of impending death. Trees are not complicated, but they are not stupid. The knowledge of the wood pulsed through every branch and root; the force of nature, the will of life to survive surged.
Crack! The sound of tons of wood uprooting drowned the roar of the engines. It was the sound of defiance. Earth showered from roots, and leaves swirled as the mighty trees moved. Nature stopped; from red fox, and blackbird to tiny grey mouse life paused – the cry of war flowed through the ground, squeaked from the lowliest and sung from above. ‘We come! We stand! We fight! Nature Rises!’
Birds swooped, squawking at the monkeys who walked on two feet. Beaks were sharp, and eyeballs soft. The brave robin and the humble thrush dived, their song the sound of battle as they flew towards danger. ‘Be gone! Be gone!’
The humans flapped their arms against the onslaught.
“Get away, filthy creatures!” one monkey yelled. “I hate birds!” His flapping arms knocked birds to the ground, and some rose up for another onslaught. Others lay broken but roused the song to inspire their comrades.
“What is this? Alfred Hitchcock been ‘ere?” The foreman cried, trying to bat away the crows, pecking at his face. Blood flowed, feathers flew, and the beat of the Primal Song changed again – the music surged as other creatures joined the fray.
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It’s a tale of nature’s vengeance against the greed and folly of humanity. In a time when climate change is looming, perhaps we should heed the cry of nature before it’s too late.
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British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
She also curates speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit - for the most part the Here Be Series
Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Heroika Skirmishers – where she was editor and cover designer as well as writer; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Awards: Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
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