The mauve barb flew past us in an instant, and shot into the uneven bark of a nearby tree. For a moment it startled us and gave quite a fright, but we had to keep moving; otherwise the Arbor would surely get us. Laura and Anastasia had already run in the other direction and had disappeared into a colossus of trees. The high canopy blocked the sunlight from reaching us and left a dark shadow over the forest floor.
The Arbor moved closer, its long olive trunk twisting around and smelling the earth around my body. Inside the trunk was a poisonous barb which if shot could fire at tremendous speed. And as it was toxic it would be fatal.
"Wren," a voice called, echoing throughout a clearing. "Come on we need to go!" The high pitched voice belonged to Anastasia and suddenly her blonde-grey hair appeared behind a tree stump. Behind another was the copper red hair of Laura. She was laughing.
I pulled my dagger from the back of my jeans and launched the golden blade through the Arbor's heart. At first it stood still and heaved a deep breath, but the grim soon followed. The elephant like creature collapsed to the earth, its limbs sprawled.
"Took you long enough," Laura cried, appearing from the shadows. "Those Arbors's are easy!" Her green eyes flashed in the darkness. After her the petite form of Anastasia followed and the young girl stared at me with glassy eyes.
"I think you did great," she beamed at me. "Laura is just jealous." The fifteen year old scowled and turned away. My name is Wren Pryor, a fifteen year old Inmoenis. Inmoenis' are people who unlike the rest of the population are immune to the disease Arbor Morbus. Arbor Morbus corrupts your molecular structure and usually turns you into a human-plant hybrid. It doesn't just affect humans though; it affects wildlife just as bad.
The Arbor before was probably once a blissful elephant who spent its days on the African plains, but after catching the disease the poor creature evolved into a daunting predator. Arbor Morbus is very dangerous; it can turn animal to plant, turn herbivore to carnivore, and turn man against woman. Sometimes I am glad to be Inmoenis.
Anastasia and Laura too are fellow Inmoenis' and we journeyed together to find others. There aren't that many of us left and even if there where we would have a hard time finding them considering the whole planet is now just a forest. When I was young my father would tell me of when he was a child, and there where giant lakes called oceans. Oceans and seas don't exist anymore, the forest took over.
The three of us continued through the thick undergrowth and silently cursed as minute Arbor's bit our skin. They were similar to the elephant and had small barbs, but instead they drank your blood and cut your skin.
As Anastasia itched she talked slowly about where we were. "I think we are somewhere on the east coast of a country called Australia," she began. "There are supposed to be a society of Inmoenis' here!"
Laura cocked her head. "And how do you know this?" The small girl laughed and shook her skull.
"Rumours from when I was younger!" For the first time in a while we laughed. Amongst the forest everything was a bright shade of green and the floor was littered in dead leaves. We had to be quiet otherwise carnivorous Arbor's would hear and follow the sound. Despite the mutation most Arbors's kept their ears. Luckily for us though they usually had lost the sense of sight.
We walked for another few hours before the darkness truly set in. Once nightfall came the outside world became dangerous and we would have to take safety within caves. In some areas it was safe to take refuge in trees, but in others winged Arbor's would try to eat your flesh and burn your bodies. The mythical creatures once called dragons now existed thanks to the disease.
We made camp at the bottom of a small hollow which was too small for most Arbors's to walk in. We made a small inferno using flint and steel, and roasted a captured Arbor which Laura had caught in one of her traps. The small creature would have looked like a sheep, if it weren't for its wooden legs. The meat was tender and juicy and had a delicious smoky flavour. Anastasia as well had seasoned it with wild herbs.
"So," I said roughly, my face filled with lamb. "Are we going to try and find this Inmoenis Society or what?" This had been a tough question for us, as we truly had no idea what to do. But then suddenly Anastasia had an epiphany.
"What if we create our own society? I mean we could contact other Inmoenis' with a radio signal and guide them to a safe house." It was a good idea, but was it plausible?
"Great idea," Laura spat. "But where are we going to house these people, and how are we going to form a community. We can't make tree houses due to Arbor's and we can't make homes because of Arbor's. We can't do anything because of these stupid plant monsters!" She sounded depressed.
"We will find a place," Anastasia said hopefully. "We will, we have found homes before. All we have to do is search for a small town or city. Most are still standing!" Even thought the forest had overcome the sea it had yet to destroy buildings and this was our only chance to find one.
"Okay," I said, clearly seeing hope. "All we have to do is find a building, and if I'm correct there were lots of towns on this side of Australia." Laura and Anastasia nodded. All we had to do was find one.
The night soon fell and the haunting cries of nocturnal Arbor's filled the air. Most people found it hard to sleep with all this noise but I found it quite peaceful and relaxing. I know Laura did as well, we were both country kids. Anastasia on the other had tossed and turned every night until she was so exhausted that she slept. It wasn't nice but at least she slept as some Inmoenis' in the world probably cannot.
I then drifted away into the dreamtime.