The Dryad

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia’s Picture It & Write

Joe Taggart started his walk through the forest to the northeast of the compound, muttering begrudgingly to himself. He double-checked his utility belt. Wire coils, insulated gloves, cutters, pliers. All check. The charge indicator on his Stinger read maximum capacity.

Taggart had never needed his Stinger before on duty. A long black stick resembling an officer’s baton, it could discharge a hundred times or so at capacity. In training, he’d seen a single good discharge throw a carcass almost fifty yards. The perimeter fence could dispatch a charge nearly twice that, enough to kill a man instantly, but it didn’t stop the Crawlers from trying to chew their way through it.

A quick glance at the duty tag. “Volunteers,” he muttered again, reaching for his radio.

“Central, this is D.T. Taggart, copy?”

“Go ahead, patrol,” a familiar female voice scratched back.

“Confirm fence breach location Edward eight niner.”

“Affirmative. You can’t miss it, Joe. Meter shows interrupt in the first section, right next to The Dryad. She must have been too busy…”

Taggart pictured the accompanying smile and smiled himself. “Thanks, Annie. A little trouble making out the scribbles is all. You know how it is with ‘the help’ these days. Taggart out.”

Annie opened the channel again long enough for him to hear her giggle of allegiance.

“Damned brainless Crawlers,” he grumbled to the silent box, returning it to its holster. It was hard to think of them as ever having been human. Short legs and elongated feet made them more like grasshoppers with opposable thumbs… opposable thumbs and a voracious appetite for electroshock therapy.

Studies on the gredophytes, showed the species was driven by their instinct for what they perceived they did not have. They were born to hunger, hence their name. Fortunately, their perception was limited by insect intelligence, but in their innate avarice, the compound’s perimeter fence was like a candle flame to a moth. E-section was the worst.

Whoever had decided the perimeter fence needed to run through the northeast forest had clearly not taken biological studies into account. It was probably the safety of the trees that gave the Crawlers the courage for their attacks. Taggart was quite sure it was insanity that gave them the tenacity. He trudged on, muttering.

At last he arrived at the scene. Golden shafts of sunlight pierced through the leaves of the trees. Taggart stopped, and for a very brief moment, he was caught up in admiration. The Dryad was nothing more than a moss-covered tree with two large surface roots that spread out before disappearing into the ground. She was as wooden and inanimate as anything else in the forest, but to the imagination, her legs were more human than the Crawlers, the legs of a maiden straddling her lover, and cursed there for her love of the Earth, to straddle forever.

It was a remarkably beautiful scene. On any other day, Taggart would have smiled at the sun illuminating The Dryad’s mons pubis that way… but today, ice ran in his veins as he pulled his radio from its holster a second time.

“Patrol to Central, copy.”

“Copy, patrol,” the radio crackled. “Did you find that perimeter breach, Joe?”

“Negative Annie. I can’t find the perimeter.”

“Say again, Joe?”

The bushes in the distance began to rustle. Taggart backed slowly away and flipped the charge switch on his Stinger.

“You better get your weapons ready and get the compound on lockdown, Annie. I’m standing at E-89 now. The Dryad’s right in front of me, but there’s nothing here but trees. The perimeter fence is gone… it’s just gone!”

© 2012 Anne Schilde

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About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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22 Responses to The Dryad

  1. joetwo says:

    Nice story! There is more to be written here no doubt! I like the part about the issue with the trees and the fence. Any self respecting security expert would drag their minions over hot coals for an oversight like that.

    • Anne Schilde says:

      I thought you’d like the part where his name was Joe. 🙂 I won’t be writing more on this one for sure. Haha, I don’t know what I would do to explain an entire fence disappearing!

      • joetwo says:

        Go all Arthur C. Clarke on them and have the Crawlers gathering the wire and posts as treasure. Simple animalistic drives and all that!

  2. Nanda says:

    I have no idea what this one was about… oO

  3. Nanda says:

    haha, I’m sorry for being so stupid, Anne! 😛
    You’re such a talented writer… you change styles like changing clothes, haha. I felt this one was some kind of sci-fi… Was it? :p

    • Anne Schilde says:

      The picture just didn’t make the same impression on you. Sci-fi buffs are picky about their genre. I just wanted to do a creature feature, cuz I’ve been in that kind of mood. Haha, I really like the changing clothes comment!

  4. Thu says:

    Interesting development.

  5. Anna says:

    I do love a delicious cliffhanger, and the promise of monsters is always fantastic 😀

  6. Ermilia says:

    Wow. Of course you would suprirse us all, marvelous Annie. I wouldn’t have expected a zombie-ish/mutated creature based story for this photograph. But I also love it at the same time. Two sides to nature. Not all of it is pleasant. Thanks for contributing this week!

    – Ermisenda

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Haha, yeah, no zombies. The Crawlers don’t eat flesh or anything like that, but they will kill you to take whatever you have that looks shiny… more out of stupidity than aggresssion. Glad you liked it!

  7. Marian Green says:

    If this was the first two pages to a book I’d keep turning the pages. For sure.

  8. Yaz says:

    Eek! Just as it ended, I wanted more! I don’t know how you do it Anne. I looked at the picture to see what story came to mind and I went blank. Completely blank. This has the makings of a huge great book.

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Your mind is never blank, it only seems like it when you look for new ideas because there’s no such thing as new ideas. Try just writing down the words that come to mind when you look at the picture… tree, moss, green, sunlight, streak…Haha, now I have another story where my BFF and I think it would be funny to go streaking in the woods, and we come across this tree. She stops and sits down next to it mimicking the pose. I laugh and tell her she will have to sit like that a while before she grows that much moss.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed my fence mender, and thanks always for reading, Yaz! ♥

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