|Miranda's Excursion (standard:fantasy, 2246 words)|
|Author: Rinder||Added: Oct 20 2005||Views/Reads: 1437/914||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A young woman struggles to escape an entanglement with a sentient plant.|
Miranda's Excursion Miranda was chopping wood in her front yard when the visitor imposed. Noon was approaching and soon Edgar, her husband, would return from the village where undoubtedly he was dawdling at the flower shop and letting Miss Lavender show him her orchids and zinnias. It promised to be a frosty night, and Miranda wanted to surprise him by replenishing the fuel for their hearth, which had always been Edgar's chore. Edgar often pestered her about her being twenty years of age and yet so clinging and dependent. It would please Edgar to see her gaining self-reliance. A mild rain shower had commenced, stippling her white cotton shirt and leather breeches. She had lodged the tiny umbrella in her strawberry red hair, just above her right ear. She removed it and opened it, its pink canopy no larger than her palm. She tapped herself on the head with it and then replaced it above her ear. Now the rain was veering around her. As long as the magic umbrella remained open she could work without the rain drenching her. Magic was nothing if not convenient. She propped a short log upright on the stump. Then she picked up the axe and raised it above her head. She was about to swing when something nuzzled her ankle, interrupting her concentration. Wrapped twice around her leg, she saw, was a green cord, no thicker than her thumb, and festooned with tiny leaves shaped like hearts. The vine extended from her leg, across the yard, and into the forest. The indignity of the situation incensed her. She wasn't about to be groped like so much meat by foliage. She was still holding the axe. She raised it higher, and swung at the vine. The blade struck the vine but didn't sever it. In fact, the vine wasn't even scuffed. She swung again, and again, but all she managed was to chop off a few leaves. To her horror, the vine began to tug her leg. It jerked her foot out from under her. She felt her other foot scrape the ground as the vine dragged her away from the stump. Fortunately she was wearing her sturdy moccasins. She tripped on a stone and fell, and the axe flew from her grip. The vine towed her past her house. She was accelerating. By the time she entered the forest proper, on her back, she was moving faster than she could run. Seconds later, she entered a clearing and her speed slackened. The vine filled the clearing, covering the ground and the few scattered trees with thick snarls and tangles. Also, she was sliding toward a huge tree stump, likewise festooned with the growth. The vine that was pulling her disappeared over its top. When she reached it, she discovered that the stump was hollow, lined with the growth. The vine hauled her over the rim, and when she saw that it extended into the hollow, she feared that she would plummet into the darkness, but instead, more vines coiled around her arms, legs and waist, and she descended slowly. The vines lowered her into a large cavern with a high ceiling. They set her gently on the ground, and then she felt their grip loosen as they unraveled from her body, except for the one that had snagged her leg. Above, in the darkness, a faint dot of bluish light was all that she could see of the outside world. To her left, a train of five wheeled carts sat parked parallel to the cavern wall. Behind the carts a plume of firelight danced and flickered on the rocky surface, casting long shadows on the ground. Despite the blaze, the cavern was a murky abyss. The air was cool and smelled like mud. Nearby she could hear the coursing of water. What was happening? Was the vine going to eat her now? "Hoy! Fresh worker." Three short figures trotted into view. They had tiny mouths, large eyes, and pudgy fingers. They wore gray breeches, secured to their stout bodies with wide black belts, and were otherwise naked except for gray, conical caps that drooped, hanging down the sides of their heads over pointed ears. Now they stood before her, staring, and leering. "Excellent," said the middle of the three figures. "Vargus has brought us a fine human." Click here to read the rest of this story (228 more lines)
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