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Miranda's Excursion (standard:fantasy, 2246 words)
Author: RinderAdded: Oct 20 2005Views/Reads: 1763/1132Story 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 

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." 

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