by Jason Evans
by Jason Evans
Wind leaned on the grass. From horizon to horizon, the world bowed under skies of gemstone blue.
Water trickled. A wall of saplings twittered in hot summer soil.
A black bear heaved onto its rear legs. It's shape cut a void in the night and sliced away the moon.
Claws bit into bark. Slapping again and again, they shredded until the life blood was nipped and flowed.
The bear dropped down, tatters of wood fluttered where--
Her shirt creased as his hands reached up her body. She raised her hands and curled herself back against the tree.
He kissed every line and shadow of her neck.
She moaned as his dropped to where his hands cupped her--
The world washed green. A warning tone beeped.
Bullet rain pounded.
Tree limbs clattered and trunks groaned.
An explosion of light slammed a nearby tree. The wood split and charred. Wisps of smoke danced between the drops then disappeared.
A rope looped and stretched away to another trunk. Clothes dripped in the mottled shade.
An ax chopped into the stump and stuck. A woman wedged more firewood on the cooling fire. She poked the steaming water and swirled the clothes in the suds.
Musket balls thudded. Shattered branches fell. Cut weeds tipped.
Silver smoke drifted through the forest like fog.
"Reform the line! Hold ranks!"
Another volley sizzled though. Hollow hits cut through long buttoned coats. Men fell.
"Present! Aim! Fire!"
Orange lit the low floating clouds above the forest.
Squirrels shook in the hollows. Their breath pulled away the heat.
An inferno wave roared through, then reversed. The wind was unsettled, changing. Rivers of sparks swirled high in pillars of--
Leo uncoupled the KaraKara probe from his temples and set it on the gleamy table.
A voice spoke from the console. "Command?"
"I'm finished with that one."
The crawler lifted from the dark and light, dark and light growth rings of the tree. Laser light winked out.
Robotics pulled the disc from the player. It was a wedge of fossilized tree embedded in circular isomers.
The boy rotated through his school notes. "Do you have anything from Asia in the sixteenth century?"
"One specimen. Sophora japonica. Chinese Scholar Tree. Growth: Village environment. 489 readable years."
"I'll see that one."
Robotics hummed. A thin slice of tree emerged from a slit in the archive wall. It settled on the player, then spun.
Leo engaged the KaraKara probe and dialed though the growth rings.
He pressed play.