Somewhere near the middle of The Forest there is a tree that grows far taller than all the rest. This is the tree that we must find. Tonight.
The world is very dark now. We stumble upon the roots of many trees upon our running path towards the one that we must find. We get up.
Again and again we fall, or rather, someone in our number does. Each of us takes a tumble in our turn. But we get up.
We scrape our knees. We hurt our hands. But we get up. We keep on running.
What is the pain of a scraped knee compared to death? What are cuts in hands? They do not matter. We get up. We keep on moving.
The middle of The Forest, the most frightening of all places in this land, this we have to find. This we have to reach. And fast, if we wish to live.
We do. We all of us wish to live.
Not all of us will, but we wish to. Not all of us may, but we hope. We pray.
Our prayer is as old as The Forest. As old as the world itself.
We learn its words as children. We all of us learn to pray. Long before we ever find ourselves running in The Forest, we all of us learn to pray:
Alavii na dhoyyéé.
Inna ayya goyyéé.
A rough translation of the prayer is something like this: Holy Hoyyéé, Holy Niiyyéé, Keep us safe. Holy Miiyyéé, Holy Mayyéé, Let me live.
I cannot begin to explain the meanings embedded in the names of our deities. Of our demons.
This is a prayer we have prayed since time began.
I had hoped The Forest would not come. We all of us always do. I had hoped it would not take me, but it did.
One moment I was walking hand in hand with my love. One moment we were talking about our plans, our life to be.
The next moment I was in The Forest. The Forest had come for me.
I knew at once what I must do. I knew I had to run. And so I did.
The moment The Forest claimed me, I began to run. I have been running ever since.
How long has it been now? How many days, nights, how many weeks? I have been running.
I have been running hungry. I have been running sick, and hurt, and badly burned as well. I have been running.
I have rested when I may. The moments I have found the things, the places that we seek, I have rested. I have eaten when I may.
There are times when I have been fast, have been the fastest. Then I have eaten well. Have eaten like the Queen of All The Forest, but not too much. Always I have known I still must run.
There are those who choose to eat, and eat, and eat, and die. Those who eat too much, they always die. The food itself a poison when too much.
There are those who do not run. Too old, too weak, too tired. They also always die.
Their deaths are gruesome. The excruciating manner of their slow death serves keep us running till we can run no more.
At least those of us who run still stand a chance. To run another day. To live another day. Another day or night.
And the luckiest of us all, sometimes the fastest, the luckiest of us all, sometimes they do return. Sometimes The Forest ends for some.
I live for that sometime. I live for that dream for that maybe. Someday maybe I am fast enough. Someday maybe The Forest ends for me.
I run for the sake of that sometime. I run for the sake of the end of the trees. I run for the end of The Forest.
If I am very lucky, someday my love and I may meet again…
Just pray it isn’t here, not in The Forest. Just pray it does not take my love as well.
And I run. And I run.
I survive this night. I sleep a little in the tallest tree. I eat some. This time not all that much, but some. When morning comes I run.
I run. I pray. I run.
Now someone new has come. Again there’s someone new has joined our run.
There’s someone is confused. There’s someone does not run. Does not start to run not fast enough.
I am running past them. Past this someone new who does not run the fool.
Oh, I see their face. Oh Gods, I see their face and just as it begins! I see as they start dying oh I see that face…
The face of my beloved as they die they burn are torn to pieces even as they burn, they take so long to die and I realize suddenly I realize that I have stopped
oh… Gods…the pain