Here is a short story I wrote for in my writer’s facebook group.
The prompt was to write a short story based on your favorite painting. I don’t actually have a favorite painting, so I just perused google images until I found one that spoke to me. This is the story.
This is the image.
Allyandrah paused for a moment. What was that sound?
The faint roaring was vaguely familiar but she couldn’t quite place it. Her heart began to beat faster as though it recognized the sound as a threat. She glanced up through the trees, the black bark reaching for the sky, which was obscured by the red leaves at the very tops of the trees. The ground was moist under her bare feet and she felt the continual shifting of the insects everywhere. She had long grown used to the pinches, burns, and bites of walking across the forest floor.
Looking behind her, Allyandrah continued to move toward her destination, the rich mushroom garden where the forest sank into a low bowl. She relished the change in smells from the spice-infused forest to the dank, wet, musty smell of the mushroom garden. The oppressive heat of the forest even lifted as she descended. Quickening her pace, Allyandrah passed by hundreds of trees, looking for the cluster of six that indicated where she should curve slightly south to find the mushrooms.
The roar slowly but inexorably grew louder as Allyandrah moved through the forest. Her heart still pounded and she considered abandoning her usual silent walking for the careless crashing of the Hoomverdauns. The short, stout creatures moved loudly through the forest always giving away their positions. Their hair grew coarse and wild and their eyes always seemed to match giving an air of instability recklessness.
The Kjelgers, like Allyandrah, were much more reserved in every aspect. Tall and slender, they moved silently and purposefully through the woods. All Kjelgers kept their hair cropped short to avoid getting tangled on anything in the forest. Only the queen grew her hair and it was tremendously luscious with its silky, auburn look against her smooth peachy, iridescent skin. Allyandrah could always see the contempt for her people written on the queen’s face and Allyandrah loathed being in the queen’s service. She had no choice, though. One does not refuse the queen and live. The queen especially despised the blue-skinned and blue-haired forest Kjelgers. Their tasks were always the hardest, most dangerous, longest lasting.
Remembering her task, Allyandrah began to run. She knew she was close to the trees now as the ground slowly began to incline. She could not quite place why she felt so panicked, but indeed she was. Her breathing had quickened and her body trembled slightly. Finally! The six trees, four fat and two slender in their unmistakable pattern. Veering south, Allyandrah suddenly noticed the forest creatures running in her direction. Stopping suddenly, she looked around. Every creature was moving north.
Then she saw it.
The red horizon. It shimmered even from so far away.
Turning to run with the animals, Allyandrah pushed her body as fast as it would go, trying to stay ahead of the flames. These trees burned quickly and easily and fire spread quickly. At least that’s what she had been told. In all her 89 years, she had never seen a forest fire, but her grandmother had. Allyandrah recalled the horror on the face of Gree-na as she told the tale of the last forest fire. It had wiped out the entire forest. Since then, Gree-na had been trying to plead to the queen to separate the sections of the forest so that should a fire ever start again, it would only burn part of it.
The roar now chased Allyandrah and she ran with the same terror as she could feel in all the forest creatures. She could feel the wind blowing through her cropped hair and her hands were a blur of blue in her peripheral vision. Weaving and dodging, she dared not glance behind her for fear of slowing down. It grew louder faster than Allyandrah could outpace it. The other creatures were faster than her and soon she found that she was being passed by all manner of creatures.
If only she was allowed to use Grojodans! The mighty, hooved beasts moved quickly and gracefully through the forest. No other creature came close to the majesty of the Grojodans. It was why the queen had captured them all for her own personal use. Tears began to stream from Allyandrah’s eyes as she realized her fate. There was no way she would be fast enough to leave the forest before she was burned alive. Still, she ran, her legs and lungs burning, refusing to give up.
She could now make out the crackling of the fire and not just its roar. She tried to push her body to run even faster. It must be right behind her if she can hear the crackling. Trying to keep her composure to maintain her breathing, Allyandrah pushed. She was by herself now, having been passed by all the forest creatures ahead of the fire. She felt terribly alone as she ran in terror.
Within moments, it was close enough for her to know that it was no hallucination. She knew that only one Kjelger could be atop. He commanded the majestic beast with a bit and some leather reins, his auburn hair and peachy, iridescent skin. He held out his arm as he approached.
“Kru’Nah?” Allyandrah cried out.
“No time! Hurry! Grab my arm!” Kru’Nah reached down as Allyandrah reached up. Pain seared through her shoulder as they grabbed and she was yanked up and back. He skillfully swung her around to be seated on the Grojodan behind him. She wrapped her good arm around his waist and clung tightly as the Grojodan turned sharply and began to run the other way. Allyandrah buried her head into the black silk shirt of Kru’Nah and squeezed her eyes shut. She would surely die now. The queen would never forgive this.
Allyandrah did not care anymore. Her love had come. He had saved her and she would happily and gracefully walk the stairs to the execution platform.