During the days that follow any memory of my life before the forest leaches away, until I cease to remember what it felt like to have a full stomach, to be comfortable and clean and to have any sense of who I am. Here I am a strange animal, walking on two legs for sure, but acting on instinct and impulse. I eat, not when I am hungry, for I am always hungry to the point of being ravenous, but when I find food. Seldom is it filling or tasty, but I swallow it down and after a few days where I vomit continuously till I think I may die, my body
adapts to the strange food and stops rebelling. I eat whatever is
edible, and no longer question this. Berries, leaves, nuts, grubs and
insects: but carrion is usually too far gone to risk eating, and I
have no means of making fire. A kill is a risky place to linger; the
predator will be close, if the meat is still fresh enough for me to
I drink water from the clear streams that criss cross the forest,
checking the soil by the banks for signs that any animals have been
there recently. At night I sometimes hear cries that tell me that
dangerous animals live too close to me and I shiver in whatever tree
I have chosen for my night’s rest. Sometimes, I find a deep pool and
swim in it, trying to rinse the filth from body and hair. My clothes
have become organic extensions of myself, ragged and dirty, but
somehow holding together enough to give me warmth enough to survive the nights. Gradually I forget that such things as beds exist. I
cannot imagine lying down to sleep; I doze, leaning against a tree
trunk, high up in one of the increasingly massive trees.
For as I journey deeper into the forest, either I have become infinitely smaller or the trees have become far taller than even my now distant memories of trees would have me believe. I have come to an area where the trees seem to have been growing since the start of time itself, and the spread of their branches keeps the forest floor clear of smaller trees. No one has ever cleared away fallen wood; every branch that has fallen in a winter gale still remains undisturbed, home to a million insects and small mammals. I come to an area where many of the great trees have all fallen, leaving mountains of wood, piled against each other in shattered heaps. The trunks are many, many times my height, and when they stood, these giants rivalled mountains in their height. Once I might have told what manner of tree these were, but now I only know that I must scramble among them, for days at a time, to cross an area that may be less than a quarter of a mile across filled with treacherous heaps of decaying dead-fall and low growing vegetation like brambles.
When finally I get clear of the grove of fallen giants, I find that I am
among their living kin. Towering trunks, their skins rough and
fissured, soar skywards, and I can see only the tiniest glimpses of
sky through the dense canopy of leaves. The tree tops are hundreds of feet above me, and there are no branches low enough for me to climb up into the protective arms of the trees that night.
I shiver and wonder what beasts patrol this area of forest at night. I
must find somewhere to sleep or risk being prey myself when the deep velvety darkness falls and makes moving impossible. Among these trees, the canopy of leaves is so complete that even the sunlight filters through only imperfectly and the forest floor is filled with green shadows and little grows here.
I stand gazing up, mouth open in wonder, and begin to move among the columns of trunks that stretch miles in every direction without
variation, and wonder where I am to sleep this night when the cradles of branches are inaccessible to me.