I took my morning coffee to the balcony and looked out over the swaying trees as I sat and sipped. Living in the forest was as pleasant as I had always thought it would be. Peaceful. Calming. Once you got past the fact that just last week my apartment had been in the center of an urban tangle of cement and metal.
A shiver ran through the red leaves. It wasn’t autumn. They were just angry. A lamppost on the street corner sparked and collapsed with a creak of rending metal.
The best and the brightest had put their heads together, deciding that what we needed in the age of deforestation and ozone-shrinkage was the fastest-growing, strongest, tallest, most oxygen-rich tree ever, and they were going to make it. They’d succeeded.
Sentience had been an unintended side effect.
It had been on the news as the greatest discovery of our generation. And then there hadn’t been any news.
The rain forests were gone. Only bare dirt and a few fallen branches and confused jaguars remained. It wasn’t our doing this time. They’d come north to return the favor.
I’m sure it was horrifying to wake in a world ruled by fleshy predators who stacked up the skeletal remains of your kin to live and park their fume-spitting metal carriages inside, carrying bits of your skin around inside their pockets and bags and burning your remains for fun on a cool summer evening.
The ground was a writhing mass of shattered concrete, dark earth, and twitching roots. If you were fool enough to go outside, and there wasn’t much inside left to speak of, it wasn’t long before the ground swallowed you up and the new, hungry trees turned you into a human juice box.
Still, of all the ways to go, in the peace and quiet of nature, enveloped into the welcoming, dark softness of the earth, wasn’t the worst. The roar of the city had stilled. Birds flitted in the leaves, bursting out in laughing flocks as the trees irritably shook their heads. A soft breeze floated by carrying the scent of fresh blossoms.
The foundation of my building creaked. A long crack lanced up the wall next to me. I took another sip of my coffee. It wouldn’t be long now.