"You're under arrest, Cedar." I watched the red-haired officer step up to the wild, blonde-haired, green-eyed man.
"I didn't anything!" His green eyes frantically searched for a way out.
"Tell that to the dead girl found in your home this morning."
"What?!" Shock and pain read clear as day on his face. "Ask Mother Nature! She'll tell you I had an alibi!"
"You'll get your fair trial, boy."
I bounded away, the only witnesses that knew where he was. I had to gather everybody else. Deeper into the woods, I called out to Mother Nature. A mist rose from Her crust, wrapping me in her folds. I sighed a breath of relief when I was once more human, and fully clothed. I finger combed out my long black and silver-streaked hair.
"All creatures of Mother Nature. One of our own has been captured."
One by one, creatures came forth. I acknowledged them by name as they changed into their human form. "Cedar has been captured. His human sister found a dead body in his home, and reported him."
"What?... Who?.... When?... He wouldn't... He never... How?..."
"I know this. You know this." I pointed my head towards civilization, "They do not. If we band together, all will be well."
"I didn't do it!" I cried out to my human sister. "You know I didn't!"
"Do I?" Her turquoise eyes deadpanned my way. "She was in your room."
"That's enough!" The blonde officer snapped. "Do not feed him information! Actually, Miss, your time is up."
I sank back into a corner, wrapping my arms around myself, wishing I was in the woods. I couldn't transform without the earth beneath my feet. So, I prayed. I could feel the tears on my cheeks, but what else was I to do?
I raised my head as I caught a whiff of somebody I knew all too well. "Willow!" I flung myself to the bars. "You know I didn't do it!" The officer's head snapped towards my wife.
"I know, Cedar, I know." Her big brown eyes were sad. "Officer Miranda, what evidence, other than the deceased being in his home, do you have of his guilt?"
"Is that not enough?!"
"No." Her voice was soft and powerful. "Because I'll swear before Mother Nature herself that my husband was with me last night."
I couldn't bear to see him this way. I could see he'd been crying. I could smell the fear on him, the anger and disdain on the officer.
"His verdict's already been handed out. There's nothing you can do, Miss Ainsley."
"It's been an hour since he was arrested. I saw it happen. Do not lie to me, Officer."
"Actually, she's not lying. His verdict was passed before his arrest." I glared at his sister.
"What about my trial! You promised me a fair one! You promised!" I could hear the desperation in his voice.
"Shut it, Ainsley! Murderers don't deserve trials here!"
"And liars don't deserve to be officers, Miranda." Her green eyes regarded me with an icy distance. "Your job is done. A lawyer's, however, is not."
A smirk curved her thin lips. "He had a lawyer represent him, Miss Ainsley. We covered our backs. Now, unless you want to be arrested as an accomplice, I suggest you say your goodbyes and leave."
"We'll save you somehow. I swear it. All will be well. I love you, Cedar. Don't forget that. I love you." I didn't have a clue what we were going to do, but I couldn't lose him.
Night came, bringing with her the comforting darkness. I could feel her wrap around me like a blanket. "Mother Nature, how could you let this happen?"
"Worry not, my child. All will be well. I have not left you alone. All will be well." My head shot up at the voice I hadn't heard in at least ten years, my human mother.
"Mama? But how? The verdict for murder is always the death sentence. I die tomorrow evening!" It was the first time I'd voiced it, and now that I had, the reality began to sink in.
"My son, all will be well."
"Is that all you can tell me?" I reached out in the dark, hoping she was somehow there. I received no answer. I remembered when I'd first been placed with my human sister, when I started school at seven, the day I first met my Willow when we were in the tenth grade, our last year of school.
I was sitting under a tree with my nose in a book, one of our last surviving copies of Prophet by Frank E. Peretti. I'd felt somebody sitting beside me, but ignored it because I was enthralled with the novel I was reading. "Hello?" Her melodic voice drew my attention, then I saw her big brown doe-like eyes. Her long black hair with silver streaks reminded me of stars in the night sky. Her tan skin was like the earth. Her forest green dress flowed down to her bare feet. I was under her spell and we'd been inseparable since.
What a long way we'd come since then. We dated for five years. Then, we got married, both among our human companions, and among our woodland friends. My mother was proud as Hell that beautiful, sunlit day. In the ten years since then, we'd traveled throughout the countries surrounding Onacona Unadotivhi. Then, last night, she'd revealed that we were finally going to have children of our own. I'd been over the moon!
Finally, with her calming image in my mind, I fell to sleep. The sun woke me up way too soon. I'm going to die today. I'll never see my children grow up. I won't be there for my son's first steps or my daughter's first words. I won't be able to cheer him on at his first game or teach her how to shoot. I won't be there for their proms, games, or graduations. I miss all of that because of this...this...this country and system!
"What am I going to do, Blossom?" I looked at my strawberry-blonde friend. "He's going to die today. I told him all will be well, swore we'd help him escape. Mother Nature hasn't given me any answers." Tears streamed down my face, splashing like raindrops in the dirt beneath us. The sun was just peeking through the treetops after a sleepless night.
"I don't know. I really don't know." I could see the past swimming in her blue eyes. "If we were anywhere else. Anywhere else, we'd take a stand. Yet, the community that worships Mother Nature is the very one that condemns us. Condemns us to death with a smile on their lips."
"It's not right!" I cried out. I felt hopeless. "He's going to be a father, and they're just going to take his life for something he didn't do! It just isn't right!"
"I'm so sorry, Willow. I wish I knew. Oh, I wish I knew." She pulled me into a bear-hug. "I'll go. I'll go with you."
"Where? I went to the station yesterday. You heard how that went."
"I know. I know, Willow, but he can't be alone." Her voice has softened, and she sounded much like the calm rabbit her animal form was.
"It's useless! Don't you see?" I stood, angry at the new day dawning upon us, as the country behind the legal system. "He doesn't have a sliver of hope! I'm left struggling on my own with two children on the way! I have nobody left out there after today! They're taking the life of an innocent man! My husband!" I broke down as tears flowed freely once more. That was the last thing I remembered.
"All will be well, she told me. But it's impossible!"
"Hush it over there!"
"You gotta help me out! I didn't do it!" I pleaded with the male officer, who sounded new on the force. "I've got the world to live for! A beautiful wife! Twins on the way! I was happy with my lot in life!"
I could see in the growing light the uncertainty on his face. "If I let you go, I'll be the one dying today and I've already got four children and a wife."
I opened my eyes. Something wasn't right. I tried to move, something bit at my wrists and ankles, but was immobile. "Hello?" The word wouldn't come out, just small useless sounds. I pulled against the bonds as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I could hear somebody else breathing.
"Good. You're awake. Been out a good couple of hours, you know." I struggled more, recognizing the voice. "You know, you really should have been a lawyer." A light flipped on, searing my eyes, literally burning them. A strangled scream sounded from my throat. A dry laugh echoed throughout the room. "He's a freak of nature. So are you and the rest of you. I remember when I first discovered it. I'd fallen in love with one, and he took me on a date into the woods. He changed into a rabbit." I could hear the anger and longing in her voice, behind the menacing anger. "I killed Winter Amatus." Blossom's brother! "Since then, I've been killing you off."
Mother Nature, I can't speak, can't move. Help me, save me. Save my Cedar. Save us and help us bring this vile person down. Mother Nature, I beg you.
I could hear the woman's boots falling on the hardwood floor as she went away from me. Something clattered on a table. Water began to run full-blast from several faucets, I assumed in an attempt to mute the other sounds in the room. Whether that was the goal or not, it worked. I was now deaf with the sound of water, mute from something, blinded by the light, and immobilized. I was trapped in my own head and body, the worst place to be.
Then it happened.
I could feel a sharp pain in my stomach, making a line up my abdomen and chest. I doubled over in pain. Mother Nature, what are you doing? What is going on? I cried out as the pain grew stronger and more defined, like a knife cutting into flesh.
A mutilated scream sounded from my throat, a harsh sound I didn't even recognize as my own. The roaring of the water seemed to grow louder as the pain intensified.
Suddenly, her voice spoke louder than the water. "Nobody can hear you. Nobody knows you're here. So, you're at my mercy now. Freak."
Mother Nature, please... Save me! How? Why?... The pain! My children! Willow!
"Mr. Ainsley?" I could hear the voice of the officer on duty filling with concern, feel the fear of my Willow filtering through the pain "Mr. Ainsley? Are you alright?"
"My wife!" I gasped out. "In trouble!"
"Your wife, Mr. Ainsley?" I looked at him and realized, for the first time, who he was.
"Orion, please, find her."
"One mile south of the woods. Small hut." I could hear my mother's voice from last night.
"One mile south of the woods in a small hut. Please, find her. Save them." I doubled over again as the pain began to spread throughout my stomach.
I watched in pain as understanding dawned on his face. "Family emergency," he shouted to an officer in the next room before fleeing out the door.
I could feel every cut she made. The pain intensified with every agonizing moment that passed. The searing light kept me blinded, branded through my closed eyes. I knew it in my heart and soul, that as surely as my Willow would die this evening, I was about to die. Perhaps, even made to wait until the moment he died before the woman would kill me.
"FREEZE!" I heard a male voice shout above the roar of the waters. The water shut off and a dry laugh echoed throughout the room.
"Joy joy! Another freak to exterminate when I'm done with this one! Welcome to the party!"
"By the power of Mother Nature and the Onacona Unadotivhi, drop the knife!" I heard a shot fire and hit the wall.
"Your aim's as bad as your commands."
"That was a warning shot. If I'd been trying to shoot you, I would have. Now drop the weapon!" A clatter sounded, I presumed she dropped the knife. All I knew was I needed to get back to nature so I could heal and get to my Cedar.
Now, hands on your head! Middle of the room!" Cuffs jangled as he pulled them out. "Turn around! Don't even reach for anything!" I could hear him advance as his shoes tapped the hardwood floor. I heard the cuffs slap shut around her wrists.
"Maleah Ainsley, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Mrs. Willow Ainsley. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights that I have just spoken to you?" She growled her acknowledgment. "Do you have anything you wish to say to me?"
"Yeah. You and the rest of them are all freaks! I hope my brother dies! I set him up! I killed the girl, Misty Phoenix, in his room! I killed the man, Sage Claymore, last summer, and the girl, Stormy Amadeus, before that. And the first one, Winter Amatus, that died mysteriously."
I heard him call for backup and medics when she got done rattling off her confessions, as well as ordering for the release of my Cedar. I heard the sirens outside the building drawing near, and felt, amidst my pain, a small sense of relief. I could feel somebody loosening my bonds and treating the cuts Cedar's sister had inflicted. "You're okay now, Miss Ainsley. You're okay." I could feel them helping me off the table and out the door.
"Willow!" I could hear him, but couldn't see him. Was I blind forevermore? Had the light done that much damage to my eyes? I felt his arms gently wrap around me. "My Willow!" I could hear the tears in his voice. "Thank Mother Nature you're alive! I'd..." His tears cut him off as I clung to him. "Maleah? She?" I nodded. "She knows?" I nodded again as tears flooded my eyes and face. "Then it's time the rest of the country knows before somebody else tries the same thing."
"Go, my child. I am with you. All will be well." I nodded at the voice that I knew only us animal people could hear.
"It is time. Mother Nature is ready for us to show them." I took her hand in mine. And guided her forward.
"Fellow people of the woodland! It is time to come forth! Come out of hiding! Many centuries ago, we lived openly with humans! Now, it is time we do so again! Mother Nature is with us! We worship her, revere her, as do these people! Come!" One by one, I watched as they stepped forward from the woodlands.
A mist surrounded us each individually, wrapping us in her moist folds. One by one, amidst exclamations from our human counterparts, we transformed into our respective animals, or some of us into humans, depending on what we were at Her summons. I knew everything would be okay, could feel Mother Nature's pride with each of us for not shirking away from humans anymore. When the people had realized what happened, and calmed down once more, she enfolded us in her misty arms once more and changed us back to our human selves, providing the clothing we needed.
"I can see!" I turned to my wife at her exclamation.
"What did she do to you?" I murmured into her hair. She shook her head, signaling I'd find out later, if ever.
A woman of mist appeared in the midst of us, her molecules slowly taking on a solid shape. Her eyes held many shades of brown flecked with green. Her skin was as light as sand at a beach. Her hair was as red as strawberries, with flowers of every hue braided in her locks. Her dress wasn't one particular shade of blue, looking at different hues from different angles of light. Her slippers were as black as night.
"My children have come out from hiding. They are my voice, my mind. If you worship me, you will treat them well." Her voice was like the melody of the ocean, soft and flowing out like a bubbly brook. "Maleah, this day has long been coming for you." Fear reverberated from her turquoise eyes. "My children have you heartlessly stolen from me, now you shall be forever in their midst, unable to move or speak, unable to resist if humans choose to use you so."
Her hand flicked towards my human sister. A dark mist cocooned her in its swirling, watery folds. Finally, when the mist had removed itself, there stood a tall Maple tree. "Let this be an example of what happens to those who kill Mother Nature's children. Remember this day, speak of it to future generations." She turned back to us, her children, and took on a much kinder tone. "Live in peace and harmony, my children. Just because you are free, does not mean you should forget me. I will be waiting for each of you to return to your home when you so choose to do so. Now, go, with my blessings, I send you off."
I watched her disappear, thankful I was no longer blind. I knew it would be a long time before I told Willow what had happened. For now, I was content to be in his warm embrace under the care of the rest of Mother Nature's children.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I had to remove about 483 words to get it down to 3,000, but I hope y'all still enjoy it regardless!