Earth and Steel

He was wrapped up halfway in the soil, heart still beating under rotting white cloth.  The cult left him, and the drugs wore off enough that he had consciousness.  Fear.  It ran through him like a lightning bolt.  He couldn't see anything at first.. wondered if they took his eyes.  Couldn't move his arms at first, wondered if they had sawed them off.

He wriggled to his back, opening his mouth just a little bit to breath more and gagged hard after dirt fell in.  A wave of nausea came after he was forced to swallow it.  There was a consistantly shifting blur of white light, like a long, blurry line that hit his eyes like dozens of needles, or a fist to the face.  He shut his eyes slowly-- but as fast as he could, kept them closed to try to prevent the headache.  What was it?  What was the line?

When he opened his eyes again he knew the answer.  And he clutched at the dirt with his hands, and stared at the long moon, wondering if the drugs would take his life.  His legs were missing, but he was alive.

Suddenly, the moon was gone, and the calm voice of a stranger rang out from the darkness, "Can you speak?  I need a reason not to shoot you, Quincy."

Quincy raised his arm, and then his middle finger.  Then the stranger walked away.

Quincy flipped himself over and had a coughing fit.  He heard something shifting from underneath the ground behind him, looked behind him at a blur of long trees.  One of the long shadows was moving.

Quincy's eyes got wide and he started crawling away from it as fast as he could, breathing heavy as the ground vibrated behind him.  He felt a branch grab him by the back of the shirt and he screamed, "Fuck!"

The Walking Tree said something jumbled, as if it had a limitless echo, it didn't know his name.  It stood there for a second, trying to talk to him, "Whare.. whare.. whare.. whare.. yeer.. year.. yeer.. year.."

Quincy could barely speak, "What does that mean?"

The Walking Tree didn't seem to hear, just had Quincy hooked by the back and started dragging him slow through the dirt, through the blur of trees.  Quincy held to the ragged clothing even though it was pinned tightly to his body.  He was tense with fear, a small part of him resigned to death.

What seemed like five to ten minutes passed and a gunshot rang out and a bullet slammed into the tree pushing its shoulder back.  The Walking Tree stopped, and it seemed as though its shoulders collapsed, and the most horrible screeching sound Quincy had ever heard wailed from its body.  It was like some demonic symphony.. and Quincy held his hands as tightly to his ears as possible, but it was inescapable to the man being dragged through the dirt.  It felt as though the man's brains would explode through his eyes if the screeching continued for much longer.

After a few seconds of sonic torture, the sound stopped, with The Walking Tree looking to its side, and it raised one of its branches in a blur and shot out what looked like a miniature cannonball, followed shortly by what Quincy could only assume was the sound of bones cracking and grunting from someone far away.

"Where are you taking me?" Quincy said half a frightened whisper, unable to speak louder.

This time the frightful tree looked down at him, seemed to have heard him, "Iving.. Iving.. Iving.. Iving.. Negs.. Negs.. Negs.. Negs.."

The tree continued dragging him through the darkness, across twigs, branches, rocks, insects and thorns.  It dragged him for what felt like an hour.  And as Quincy's voice began to return to him, The Walking Tree ignored his cries of pain.

Scraped, bruised, and exhausted, the lights of a two-story building came into Quincy's view, like a big block of cement with white pouring from narrow windows; and the fear that had died down in Quincy in the long drag towards his unknown destination began to surge up once again.

"What are you going to do to me?"

The Walking Tree sounded like a choir of deep-voiced robots, "Iving.. Iving.. Iving.. Negs.. Negs.. Negs.. Negs.."

The heavy door in front of the two had no handle or doorknob and made strange metallic sounds as the long grey sticks of The Walking Tree, like metallic demon fingers, sprawled across its surface.

Before the door opened, the words clicked in Quincy's head, "New legs."

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