Fear is one of the most arresting sensations. It makes itself known to most at a very young age. It enters, often like a shadow or wind, well before we even have the words to anesthetize its affect with label, category, or reference. It seems to summon itself, swirling and invading, threatening and intimidating. It is especially arresting, that which is unknown and unnamed; it lacks the handles which permit us to control it, allowing us to feign some semblance of control.
A small girl, named Ryania, was about to have an encounter which would transform every innocuous blade of grass into a teacher of torment.
Ryania knew something was out of place, but it was no more than a passing feeling. It was unfamiliar, but not particularly unsettling. She was too young to truly notice, acknowledge, and act with discernment. She felt an unease, but then dismissed this unease. She felt something, a sensation, but just as hastily dismissed this sensation. How often does anyone do this?
All the time.
Notions, fleeting but troubling, washed to and from the shores of Ryania’s mind until she eventually stopped playing altogether and grew quiet, even puzzled or worse yet, conflicted.
Her mother, Visalia, noticed this and she did not dismiss it.
“Ryania, what’s the matter, why have you stopped playing?”
She just sat there in the grass, like a toad pretending it hadn’t been spotted. There was little, if any movement. It was a bit strange, but Ryania too was a bit… well she was a child, prone to fits of strangeness as most children are.
With a quick glance it would be difficult to see what was actually happening to the small girl, but her mother, busy with tending the chores of life, didn’t observe any apparent wrongdoing.
“Ryania. You should answer your mother when she speaks to you. Are you playing a game? Tell me what you’re doing, is everything alright with you?”
There she sat, rather cute, well taken care of, and well kept. Her royal black hair softly caressed by the open air. Yet, in all this, no one could have known she was well within the clenched fist of a woeful torment. She’d been dislodged, untethered from her corporeal frame and her spirit, her consciousness arrested and taken into a realm beyond her young mind’s understanding.
Visalia, pining up the last linen, walked over to her daughter and when she neared her, the illusion of normalcy was slyly dispelled.
Her daughter was virtually imprisoned in twined grass, tortured roots, and a liquid akin to blood, but such that was not red, but milky green instead. Stems and roots coiled about with a menacing grip. Blades of grass shrouded the truer hold, covering and concealing the depth of such unauthorized grasp.
Visalia, frozen in shock, finally let forth a grave-churning scream.
She threw herself at her daughter in a brave surge of rescuing snatches, grabs, pulls, and grasps. She peeled away the blades and unraveled the grassy twines, and with every action sought to set her daughter free.
Then, something unexpected happened, just before her mother could tear away the last few seconds of grass… it released her. A hump in the grass, previously unnoticed, slowly backed away. Her mother saw this and held her daughter as she made herself still, motionless.
She froze in cold fear.
Her breath went from ragged, to abruptly held, mouth agape, eyes painfully wide. As it slowly backed away, her eyes tracked it while her head dare not swivel. And in a moment, the raised hump in the grass moved away with such a velocity it broke stones and lifted roots and splintered stumps in its winding egress.
It left with such sudden intensity all Visalia did was clench her eyes shut and eek out a frail whimper. Something must have caused it to stop, the way it behaved, it left a terrible question spilled over, within her frightened, searching mind.
Visalia started caressing her daughter as if trying to stir life back into her small body. Her daughter’s eyes were closed, and her worried eyelids shed helpless tears. Ryania was shallow breathing, her body was limp as a strip of raw bacon, and she was unresponsive.
Her mother didn’t know what to do. She yelled for help. She yelled loudly. She yelled even louder when no help came.
And she yelled again.
But there was no help and no aid. There was no spread of panic, no adjacent calls for help, and no mounting remedy forming in the quick of concerned parties. It was just the two of them, which was strange in and of itself.
They have a dog, Everquick, who is normally on top of anything new or suspicious or tasty. Jolver, an able bodied gentleman well enough, was digging up something not far from the house. Afrelin, his wife and unaccredited huntress, was complaining about Jolver digging up something. And Kianta and Sevira, a brother and sister, were just running around not so long ago.
And yet everyone, now, was gone…
This is how it seemed to Visalia, for there, holding her daughter in fierce love, she had entered a trap. She too was now in the field, unresponsive to the calls and cries of those she expected to come to her aid and rescue.