Short Story: Bloodroot

When I wrote this I was sifting through all the alien conspiracy theories. I guess in a way we don’t fully understand our own humanity until it’s threatened. Which is the heart of every story revolving aliens and otherworldly things. So here I present Bloodroot.

She awoke crumpled between branches that have fallen and continue to fall all around her. The scent of fresh leaves smear her skin, broken into small cuts and gashes from the fall. Unclothed and exposed to the environment with the texture of the leaves leaving their prints on her with the help of the blood trickling out of her wounds. Her chest rises and falls slowly taking in the air, two fisted lungs expanding and contracting within her. The sky is blue; it’s still blue she wonders. The blue is so blue it feels like home. Deep within her heart she knows she isn’t home and her memory is splicing the previous moments into smithereens.

Peeling herself off the ground, she stands on her feet and wobbles in place. The ground seems to have moved suddenly hitting her in the middle of her forehead, a flash of lightning, and the dizziness brings her to her knees. She lands on a branch and howls in pain. Sitting and holding onto her shins, hugging her legs she waits for the dizzy spell to subside. She blinks slowly adjusting herself to this place and time. She rests her chin on her knees and sighs. Eventually she closes her eyes and finds herself in a glass chamber, connected to something by way of long chords strapped to her thighs, chest, and head.

Alarms go off somewhere within her mind, and she opens her eyes and looks up to the tree that broke her fall. Walking towards it she wraps her arms around its trunk and tries to say ‘thank you’ but the words come out jumbled and incomprehensible. She’s startled by it and tries to shake her head of it to try again but her tongue seems to have lost coordination and slops about in her mouth when she tries to speak. She shakes her head one more time and an urge takes over her senses. Gathering all the fallen branches into two separate piles, and categorizing them from short to long, starting from the center, is all she wants in this moment. She strips the tree of its bark and ties each pile as though to form wooden wings. Once finished, she makes two loops, weaving her arms through them and adjusting the makeshift wings to her person.

Standing tall, she tries to flap her wings bouncing slowly on the balls of her feet until they begin to sway, and she’s satisfied. Walking along, smiling to herself as her wings spread and contract on their own, the leaves as her green feathers shine delighting her. The sun is not too bright but it warms her skin drying the blood from her wounds.

Running here to there, with the expectation to fly only to fall over from the momentum. Again and again she tries and again and again she falls. She looks at her arms, she spreads her fingers and holds her hands together, opening and closing them. She falls to her knees and wonders why she cannot fly.

The image of her in the chamber fill her eyes again, coming through in pulses. There were people there. She can see their legs hurrying as the alarms went off. The door to her chamber opened and she saw their faces. Round like a full moon, eyes set wide and darker than the night sky, mouth like a pinch of skin pouting on the chin. They seem to have been saying something she couldn’t understand. The images stop pulsing and she finds herself once again on a grassy plain, the weight of the makeshift wings on her back, and the deep, writhing urge to fly.

Ahead on the horizon, she sees figures making their way towards her. Standing she watches people who look like her, exactly like her and runs to them. However, they become startled and become frightened as she tries to speak. The words she thinks she’s saying is somehow sounding like squawks and chirps. Frustrated she grasps her throat with her hands trying to figure out why she’s sounding like a bird. The people eventually retreat, scared and speaking to each other in their own language, a language she cannot understand. Alone again, she sits down adjusting her wings so she can settle comfortably.

A man appears beckoning her with a glass of water. He’s wearing a strange plastic suit, but she receives the water gratefully, gulping it down realizing suddenly how thirsty she is. As she quenches her thirst another man appears in the same plastic suit, holding a large net. Slowly making his way around the woman, the man in front of her gives him the cue to capture her. He jumps back and watches the woman struggle, squawking wildly, eyes darting from the man to the net feeling betrayed.

She’s transported in a vehicle, not able to see where she is or where she’s being taken. Eventually she finds herself in another glass chamber, having mechanical arms extract vials of blood from her every now and then. She watches the people working behind the glass, busy with something she can’t see, wondering if they’ll ever release her so she can fly. The urge has not left her; it has intensified significantly as time passes over her. Everyone is clothed and she realizes she is not and tries to hide her embarrassment each time their gaze is directed at her.

The people take notes on an electronic pad, typing in information. They notice the bruises on her and one of the men finally speaks, “there is a report coming from Erise explaining a turbulent confrontation between their citizens. They had this human aboard and disagreed with whatever they were doing to this being”. The other man raises an eyebrow, “what were they doing?”. He presses a couple of buttons on his device and hands him the electronic pad. He chuckles as he reads the description, “they wanted to give this human wings?” and they both burst into laughter. The woman squints in their direction trying to figure out if they are laughing at her naked body. She holds herself closer, feeling scared by the minute. “They were right to be angry, give a human wings? Why grant such a thing to a human? I will never understand”. The woman then gathers courage to speak but again it comes out as squawks and the men look at each other trying not to laugh.

One of the men then examines the blood samples under a microscope, places the swab under a dish that then turns the information into small symbols now flashing on a bigger screen next to the glass chamber. The other man takes a clear liquid and adds it to another vial of blood, inserts it through a mechanical arm, which then in turn injects it into the woman’s right arm. She flinches and the mechanical arm recoils back to its spot as she doubles over holding her stomach, her small human eyes bulge breaking capillaries, a ring of red freckles dotting up to her cheeks, her arms extend out, chest thrusted upwards as she lets out a deafening screech. A force on her back slams her chest to the ground as her wooden wings get torn apart by white bones bursting through her skin, slithering out from the middle of her spine and then fanning wide as blood drops drip on the ground all around her. No longer able to scream she breathes heavily, her fingers bending backwards and forwards from the excruciating pain. The weight of her wings drag her backwards and she cries and her weeping is ragged and horse. She looks at the ceiling of her chamber and feels the urge to burst through it so she can fly. But the weight of the hanging bones is too much and she could only wonder why and how. Not able to wonder about who she was only the urge to fly courses through her and her heart breaks, her arms reach out to grab a leaf. Stuffing the leaves within her reach into her mouth, her tears run back into her hair. The men look on horrified. Softly screeching, mouthful of leaves muffling most of it, the desire resting at the edge of her skin, her eyes try to remember the sky but all she can see is the whiteness of the chamber and she dies.

They take her body and place it in a box, they file her away in a wall of cabinets, each labeled in foreign writing. The glass chamber is cleaned up, the woman forgotten on another planet far removed from her own.