Day 5 of StoryADay September
Your character is alone in the woods and finds blighted trees, drooping plants…rot and slime everywhere. It once was beautiful but overnight is turning into a swamp–its not natural. Your character must get to the bottom of this and stop it before something they love very much is threatened also.
It was nearing dusk when Trinka stumbled upon the cottage. She thought she knew every bit of this forest. Not knowing the species names for any of the towering trees that lined the paths she traveled every day, Trinka had given each individual tree a name. Brilla was her favorite. Brilla’s arms reached high into the sky, lifting delicate red flowers and fleshy green leaves to the sun’s light.
Brilla also marked the fork in the road. Normally Trinka turned left on her wanderings through the woods, but today she had turned right. The path here twisted through brilliant green shrubs flecked with tiny yellow roses and tall, willowy trees. The scent of the roses danced through the air, settling on Trina’s skin, perfuming her. She smiled and walked on, until she saw the cottage.
It was nestled snuggly in a cluster of white-barked slender trunks. Delicate white gingerbread trim lined the two windows looking out into the woods. Trinka paused, looking at the cottage, listening for sounds of life within. She heard only cicadas thrumming in the woods around her, singing their lullabies.
Trinka approached one of the windows, peering into the shadowed space. A small wooden table claimed the middle of the space, with a plate of goodies resting upon it. Trinka closed her eyes, took a deep breath through her nose, and was rewarded with the faint aromas of bacon and sugar. She opened her eyes, peering intently through the glass. Seeing no one, Trinka stepped over to the door.
Trinka paused with her hand on the door handle. One last moment to give someone a chance to declare themselves. Still nothing. Trinka pushed on the door and followed it into the cottage.
Few of the sun’s dying rays made it over the threshold. Trinka stood still, giving her eyes a moment to adjust. The first thing to come into focus was the plate on the table. Assisted by the aromas in the air, she was able to identify donuts. Maple-bacon donuts. Saliva poured into Trinka’s mouth.
She forced her eyes away from the confections to take in the rest of the cottage. Pressed against the wall to the right was a cot. On the cot was a man. A prince, judging by the fine fabric hugging his well-muscled arms and legs. And the crown upon his head. He was asleep.
Trinka gritted her teeth, and pulled her eyes away from the sleeping beauty. “Not my problem. Not today,” she said to herself, directing her eyes back to the donuts.
As she moved closer to the table, the smell grew stronger. By the time Trinka reached the table’s edge, she was swallowing waves of saliva. She fell to her knees beside the altar of deliciousness, reaching out to capture a donut and draw it to her lips.
Crisp bacon shattered and fell to the tabletop as she bit through the doughy delight. Sweet maple and smoky bacon mingled in her mouth, pulling a moan out from her toes. Trinka turned her head, her eyes darting to the prince. He slept still.
Trinka savored the first donut, scarfed a second, and tucked a third into the pocket of her tunic before rising to her feet. Sugar-drunk, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, mumbled a thank you to the prince, and stumbled out the door.
Trinka was almost halfway back to Brilla when she smelled it. The sulfurous smell of decay. Donuts shifted dangerously in her belly, forcing Trinka to the side of the path to lean on the closest tree. Her hand landed on the bark of the trunk, then pushed into its rotting center. Trinka pulled her hand back, gagging at the site of plump, white maggots swarming on her hand. She doubled over, expelling donuts to the forest floor. “I thought it was only apples. Dammit!”
She stood, surrounded by slowly crumbling timber and shrubbery, gagging again at each push of the rotten breeze. Deciding she couldn’t leave the prince to be swallowed by the decaying forest, Trinka turned back to the cottage.
The once charming building was being swallowed by black vines when Trinka arrived. She unsheathed the sword at her hip, cutting through the coils over the door. Streamers of slime unfurled from each severed vine. Trinka pushed into the cottage, again taking a moment to get her sight back. The smell of donuts was gone from the air, replaced by the smell of sewage. Trinka did not let her eyes drift to the table, pushing them to the prince instead.
So far, he was untouched. Trinka breathed a sigh of resigned relief and stepped to his side. She nudged him with her hand. No response. Poked him gently with her still drawn sword. No response. Tickled his ribs. Still nothing. “I didn’t want to have to do this again,” Trinka said as she sheathed her sword and leaned over the prince.