Nightmare beneath the Elms #FlashFiction #TwistedTaleTuesday

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I’ll be honest: I got a bit behind with #FlashFicHive this week thanks to a bout of flu. Feeling better for the first time in a week, I finally got up to speed last night.

I decided to go really dark…

Nightmare beneath the Elms

By Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Living in the forest has long been a taboo. Yet Danni had no choice. Only her tattoo kept her safe from the monsters. Only her ring kept her connected to her sisters. At some point the trees had changed enough that even she who was part of a tree had to live within one. She knew that something evil had taken over the forest – something even the Dark Fae feared.

Her ring wriggled and the faint voice of a Dryad living on the outskirts of the forest came from the snake’s mouth.

‘The moon is waning. All leaves are lost. Only clouds and mist…’

The snake hissed and returned to being wrapped around her fingers.

Danni shuddered. With each passing moon cycle she became darker – not just her dress and tattoo – but her very being. Waiting for help from Faerie seemed disastrous. Watching Fae blinded by fear was causing her to become as frosty as the forest around her… some days she couldn’t even feel her fingers for the cold they radiated.

The sapling quivered despite the lamps set around its wood pot.

Emotions she thought she no longer had surfaced as she watched the last wild Dryad struggle to survive. It was too young to remember the forest flooded with sunlight, to know the caress of a warm breeze or what it meant to be born outside of Faerie. But Danni knew it all. She straightened the pleats of her gown, making sure it fell just right, before she peered through the window of her house in an old tree.

A sliver of moon peeked out from the dark sky. Danni walked into the cold winter night, not covering her chest tattoo peeking over her dress’s neckline, and approached the cluster of elms where the insidious nightmare had begun.

Mist caressed her bare shoulders, but she didn’t shiver. Fearlessly she watched it curl around the skeletons of what had once been magnificent elm trees.

The dark ground came to life at her feet. Shadows escaped – dark stains against the air around it.

Danni watched them, waiting for fear to blind her as it had done to countless other Fae of the forest. It didn’t come.

‘Is it time?’ a slithery voice asked.

‘We’ve waited so long…’ another said.

She watched them, head tilted to the side.

‘Who are you?’

‘Fae freed from Faerie. We’ve been dead a long time, not belonging to Ankou, but to the Shadowrealm.’

Her ring slithered around and around.

‘We’ve been waiting for you to lead us, my lady,’ a shadow said.

Danni swallowed. She’d dreamt of the day that her insidious plan would come to fruition. She’d never thought that breaking from Faerie would leave her in an existence of shadow and silence.

I know the freezing fingers reference came from my own experience typing this winter. The rest? Probably a remnant of my foggy flu mind. At only 459 words I’m sure I can shorten it a lot – or turn it into a much longer short story (or perhaps a novel?).

Anyhow, I’m happy with the imagery and a new dimension to Faerie I’ve created in this story. Who knew Dryads could become all dark and twisty?

Maybe Danni looks something like this?

So for those who don’t know:

Dryads are the nymphs of trees. They have a body outside of the tree, but they’re always connected to their tree (that’s why they are tethered to the land their tree grows in).

Ankou is the king of the dead – all who are Fae and die are taken by him (or Dullahans) to his realm.

Dark Fae are considered the bad guys in Faerie and serve the Dark King.

Dryads and their trees are really the same being: what happens to one, happens to the other.

What do you think? Is there something you’d add/change?