The door is wrapped in vines, splintered and cracked on the verge of collapse in the face of relentless constriction. The handle is strangled by a creeper.
Pushing the door it half opens, half disintegrates. Vines dangle from should be a ceiling but is in fact a tree canopy. Light struggles to push through the layers of leaves, scattered scarce beams illuminating patches of gnarled ground, covered by a tapestry of roots.
Visibility is low and discerning what lies within the forest is difficult. From what can be gathered with limited sight the forest floor appears still, silent. Hanging vines drift aimlessly in a breeze of non being while leaves tumble in a sporadic fashion, some disappearing into darkened leaf litter others shining radiantly in scattered sun light.
Staring out into the maze of trees nothing seems to move. The room is locked in an uneasy silence which could be broken by something as minor as a falling branch or the arrival of a beast from the leafed depths, which would be something more than minor.
The quiet persists and nothing seems to be within this room. Then, a snap echoes from the canopy. But nothing stirs. A shaft of light reveals something. An angular construction. A roof of leaves. A small hut, a tree house. It appears to be a solitary dwelling. Upon further inspection a rope bridge is visible, flickering between leafen gaps. It leads to another tree house. There is a network here how large cannot be discerned.
Still nothing moves in the room. A rickety rumble, a streak of rainbow flashing through the leaves. Then a second and a third. Leaping from bridges to branches, eyes struggling to keep up with the spectral movements dancing in the tree tops. They disappear amongst the leaves, quiet descending once again. It doesn’t last long. Rainbow feathered beings crawl down the trees at speed, five in total. The visitor looks on with trepidation and curiosity.
While crawling on all fours down the trees on the ground the beings are bi-pedal, advancing rapidly. Sheathed in rainbow feathered headdresses, faces covered in wooden masks, expressionless. Lower halves are uncovered, reptilian scales and claws, gecko like in appearance.
“Why do you come here?”
“On our sacred land? You ae lucky to be standing.”
I’m sorry. I was just curious and –
“And nothing. Leave now or may your bones litter out ground.”
Jaws snap and claws catch.
The visitor backs out, watched by the hooded figures. The door shuts. The figures scramble back into the trees, back into the tree houses.
Ushered through corridors and staircases by a skeleton the visitor gets closer to the garden.
“I apologise in advance for whatever state the gardens is in. Or for what
lives there. It has been eons since we have tended to it.”
It’s quite okay.
“If something eats you it’s not. Thats one of the worst things a host can
allow to happen to a guest. It’s just that we spend all of our time in doors
now, the outside is of little concern to use.”
I’ll be fine the visitor replies.
“I should hope so. Anyhow we are here now. Please, enjoy the garden. And stay
Under a marble arch steps give way to dirt, a path leading to a glass enclosure. The interior has been enveloped by plant matter.
The opening of the enclosure has been blanketed by leaves, the visitor pushing through leafed layers. The garden has clearly followed its own path, thick with branches twisting in infinitely random directions, unaware of shears and saws. The thick vegetation appears to be never-ending, the air cloaked with fauna.
The visitors hand no longer feels the texture of plant matter and the branches recede, revealing a clearing. Plants of all shapes and sizes tower above a layer of grass. Ferns six metres across, fly traps big enough to swallow albatrosses, trees dotted with flowers the size of dinner plates, all colours of the rainbow while vines with forked tongues crawl over the floor as shrubberies scramble using root systems as legs.
The plant spectrum is impressive holding the visitor’s attention. He avoids a crawler before evading a shrubbery maintaining his gaze upon the rainbow tree. The colours have him entranced, until a rustle in the bushes diverts his attention. He stands guard, rather uselessly as he has no weapons.
Out of the bushes rushes an Archaeopteryx, furiously sniffing the ground before glancing at the visitor, snarling, then flying into the trees. Gathered around the rainbow tree are little sparrow like birds, colours corresponding to the flowers, wings made of clouds, tweeting in unison. A pack of Archaeopteryx glide close to the ground, the rainbow birds weary of their presence. The Archaeopteryx’s circle before landing, inspecting the visitor, appreciating his innocuousness before rummaging amongst the leaves and branches. The rainbow birds ease their Virgil, returning to the flowers.
The garden is pleasant, the visitor sitting cross-legged on the grass watching the Archaeopteryx forage around him and the rainbow cloud, gossamery around the saucer flowers. Overhead scarlet flamingoes fly over the vegetation. The garden is calm. Until another rustle in the bushes, causing everything to scatter. A twelve-foot tall terror bird emerges from the bush. The visitor bolts, bird in tow. Crashing through the undergrowth the visitor sprints towards the mansion, bird close behind.
He slams the door shut, the bird scratches furiously. The skeleton is waiting.
“Really? Last time I checked it was just Archaeopteryx’s. Wonder how that got
there. I’ll have to see it myself one day.”
The rainbow coloured birds are inspired by the Pokemon Swablu.”Claws that Catch” comes from the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.