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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sunlight so bright and yellow, it could have been melted butter, shown down on trees crisp, green and breathtakingly alive. These trees rose toward the sky as if to touch the sun, their leaves vibrating softly in the air in silent communication with the bright yellow orb, giving thanks for the privilege of being in this beautiful place. Grass, thick and green sprouted from dirt dark, soft, moist and teaming with an army of fat juicy earthworms and other assorted insects. Sparkling blue water bubbled from the ground to flow into a rocky stream bed to gurgle its way toward distant hills, like a blue ribbon winding its way across the emerald green grass.

The sound of birds chirping sounded from the tree-tops as they launched themselves into a sky that was bright blue with a few puffy white clouds added almost like decorations. Deer and rabbits cavorted freely on the ground below not accustomed to seeking refuge in the brush for they had no enemy from which to hide. This world was clean and unspoiled; no litter cluttered the landscape, the air was pure and unseen, as air was meant to be. Man had not yet ruffled Mother Nature's feathers by dumping the products of his existence in her lap. In short, this place was as it had been intended to be, paradise, a fresh start, the beginning of it all.

As the sun shown down on this idyllic scene, a small hairline crack appeared in the perfect sky and gradually began to widen. Darkness spilled from the ever-widening gap, spreading its way across the treetops to slither serpent-like towards the ground leaving a trail of decay in its wake. Brittle black branches snapped and fell from trees that just moments before had been healthy and thriving. Grass shriveled and sank into soil now crumbled and dry from contact with the descending darkness, leaving dead worms and beetles littered throughout.

The animals noticed the change immediately. Ears perked up as they shuffled nervously, deer broke into a run; pursued closely by the inky stain that now resembled a skinny arm. Slender fingers groped frantically for thin brown hindquarters as they scrambled out of reach into the forest. Birds took to the air; wings flapping so hard feathers were knocked loose, falling to the ground in a crazy slow motion spiral. Dozens of footfalls shook the ground as the formerly calm creatures ran for their lives; most made it away in time, the will to live giving them incredible speed. The formerly crowded field was almost empty, a few of the slower animals hesitating, unsure of the direction of the threat, noses twitching and ears perked up to detect the slightest movement, seeking a source for their unease.

A white long-haired rabbit pushed itself into the air with its powerful back legs only to be pulled down into the soil, its terrified squeals quickly muffled by the thick dry crust of dirt that covered it. A large buck sprinting for the trees met a similar fate, its antlers being the only object still visible above its earthen grave. A dead mole, having tried to escape the hardened crust below lay pale and sightless on the ground, surrounded by several small black ants, and a large brown spider.

Lightning shot out from the clouds, the bright yellow bolts were sharp and blinding, as if the sky itself were protesting the attacks on the living things below. The earth buckled and heaved, trying to eject the poison invading it, while the trees shrank back, roots moving as far from the damaged earth as they could; being unable to separate from their permanent home in the soil, they drew back into a tightly coiled ball to stay alive. Grass shriveled and turned brown wherever the darkness traveled, leaving a crunchy carpet on the earth's floor, a visible trail of destruction.

Amidst all the chaos, a light flared up just beyond the edge of the forest causing the darkness to shrink back toward its origin. It moved stealthily, slinking back from sight as if afraid of detection, sticking close to the natural shadows of the trees. Then, feeling another presence approaching, the stain pulled quickly back from its path of destruction and flew upwards towards the narrowing gap in the sky taking a few wayward birds with it on the way, their startled trills suddenly silenced forever as they disappeared into it. Then, like movie footage running in reverse, the landscape regained its former appearance, the damaged plants and all trace of the dead animals gone. The forest was eerily silent, looking exactly as it had just moments before with all its tranquil beauty. The only difference being, that now, the earth was aware that evil had made its baby steps into the world and would more than likely return to test its footing in the future.

As the shaken wildlife peered cautiously from behind the trees and bushes, the light nearby flared even brighter and three very disoriented travelers tumbled from a wavering blue hole in the sky.

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