The road was long and harsh, just like any other road that I walked on during my journey. There was nothing in sight at the moment but that never fooled me. Tall grasses on either side of me spelled danger. The woods spelled danger, the distant mountains did the same. I saw danger everywhere I went and everywhere I looked, except on the road. The road was safe. The road was safe, I told myself.
I often found myself walking at night as well as day, it didn't matter. I only knew that the creeping grasses that stretched into the unmaintained concrete could one day be the death of me.
"Doesn't matter if you walk fast or slow, they'll get you if you get in there. Stay away from there," my father had said, "Stay away from the grasses. Remember the rhyme:
Grasses tall are dangerous and vile, Woods far away require guile. Enter no cave, lest you give up your life, We are all together in this strife.
Remember the rhyme, Alex. One day, it might save your life."
It did, but I always felt it was a lie.
At first, only the remote regions of nature had to be quarantined but they got away. They always got away, always adapted. They evolved to survive whatever we threw at them. One day, they crossed the sea. The rhyme was a few lines short, I thought. Once they conquered the seas, boat travel became impossible. Rivers could still be crossed but no one ever went swimming anymore.
One day, I had heard of a man that entered an abandoned house off the Main, surrounded by a large farming field. The concrete road led right up to it, the grasses were short. One tree hung out in the back yard. When he made it back to camp, he was deathly poisioned and with each step, the poison spread further. He could hardly talk but he told us to stay away from those places.
"Camps. People. All of us together," he managed to stammer as the paralysis wore off. He had minutes left to live, "They fear our collective."
But that wasn't true, was it? I looked back behind me to see the towering city that once had been the epitome of a metropolis: sprawling, bustling, and had two different airports for some reason. The skyscrapers touched the clouds that hung in front of the blue sky.
They invaded cities one day. Like I said, they evolved and adapted. The new ones looked nothing like what were used to. Back in the day, we were told to look out for animals that looked strange. Animals with bright blue fur and a ball at the end of its tail or purple mice the size of an arm. I remember when I saw my first one. It looked so innocent. I thought the horror stories were a misunderstanding.
It was an owl that I saw one night. It stared straight at me through my bedroom window. I was just a kid back then. Thick black circles lined its red eyes. It held its feet close together in such a manner that I thought it was one-legged. It started chittering and then I saw it. It eyes started to glow in the dark. They were mesmerizing. The glow extended and encompassed me in a quiet warmth. My eyes fluttered and I fell asleep into a deep sleep.
When I awoke, I found my window broken and room ransacked. It came back the next night but instead of putting me to sleep, it made me see things that weren't there. I had waking nightmares for hours, unable to escape.
The road was blocked. Trees fell across the concrete to such a height that I could not scale them. I had to go around, through the woods. Through the damned woods. At least there, I could recognize them easily. They had no camouflage in nature.
I slowly trekked across the road quickly and marched into the tall grasses, measuring my steps in order to take the shortest path. "Doesn't matter if you walk fast or slow," I muttered to myself. I only had to enter the small forest surrounding the road for a minute and I could be back.
Three steps in, and I saw it. The stuff of nightmares. It stood up on its hind legs, twitching its ear in anger. It held its small arms ahead of its body and waited. I could see its short tail moving left and right, trying to sense my movements before I made them.
What have we done, I thought. The day we discovered these creatures was one of the most celebrated ocassions in history. They were like animals but different. Their bodies and abilities defied laws of physics. They could simultaneously cure previously incurable diseases, and lift several tons of material with a finger. Some could even levitate matter with their minds. One creature had the ability to hasten the growth of plants and bring nourishment to soil long depleted. They were supposed to be our saviors.
I stared death in the face and I wanted to flinch. Its yellow fur bristled and I could feel my arm hair standing. I knew it would strike and my life would be over in a flash. I heard of this one roaming the woods and sometimes venturing into the mountains to find precious stones which allowed it to grow in power. I awaited its well-known battle cry, it screamed before dealing death.