There’s something about the mist that swirls at your feet. It slows you down, makes you feel heavier than you should. The torch in your hand sends a bright beam out ahead of you, but it’s a narrow field of view. With every creek and crack of movement it shakes and stutters, flashing from one line of trees to the next.
But it isn’t the dark or the noise that’s making your stomach twist.
It’s the smell.
There is no breeze, no wind to offer relief from the dank, lingering stench. It’s tangy and old and rotting, like vinegar left out too long in the heat. Putting a sleeve over your face makes little difference – it’s sunk into your clothes and hair and skin.
You try to ignore the muffled groaning at first. Focusing ahead and pushing through the grey, you pretend it’s all in your head. But the light drifts up of its own accord, as though your hand has made a decision of its own. And now you have to look.
It’s not a face you recognise. The tree has taken whoever it was. Sunk its branches into the skin and creeped along until there’s barely any flesh at all. Thank god for the night, the dim and the shadows that save you from seeing the extent of the infection. You stare and try to make out the words cracked lips are trying to form, but you feel as though you could remain there forever and never understand.
It’s the tear streaked, blinking eyes that finally breach the confusion. You follow their gaze, tilting your head to look down, but it’s already far too late. The roots that have circled gently around your ankles are already half way up your calf.
You don’t remember coming here, and you find your fingers shake as you switch off the torch. You drop it to the ground, can hardly make it out as it rolls away. There are thin vines at your waist now.
You don’t struggle.
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Bit of an experiment with the dreaded second person present tense there, but since the Weekly Photo challenge over at the Daily Post is Creepy, I figured it was appropriate. Make sure you check out the artists work! :)