Was it really just a week ago? Time seems to have come loose, it’s lost its shape, its coherence.
I recall the start. That much is easy. I can recall the exact time, too. Six am, by St Stephen’s clock; that’s never been wrong.
I don’t remember why I was in the woods; these days I’m often surprised when I realise where I am, like I’ve just walked through a door on a surprise party. I knew it was Collendene Woods because Jane and I went there a lot before she moved away. I couldn’t expect her to stay, not really and I can still enjoy those occasions when she comes back to say hi. She doesn’t need to, it’s not her fault but will she listen to me?
Anyway, there is that old beech, with the knotted bark on the trunk so like her Uncle Tony. Once she had to stop me carving his name under the face. ‘Here is Anthony James, eaten by a tree, 15th May, 2007’. I suppose it was poor taste as that was the day he died. I expect she’s forgiven me now. Or forgotten.
I was trying to remember every detail of that day, not that that’s easy; memories are like mist, wisping away the harder you try and hold on. That’s when I saw the door. It was an ordinary door, no windows in it so you couldn’t see beyond it and painted a jolly blue. That paint looked very new. But the odd thing wasn’t how there was a door in the tree, but how small it was. It couldn’t have been more than a few inches high and less wide. Who would put a door in the roots of a tree?
I tried to open it but my strength isn’t what it was. That or it was locked. It was only then I looked at the other trees. Each had an identical door. Well, full disclosure they were the same size and construction, though each one was a different colour. I found seven though there could well have been more.
What do you do when you find a set of small doors accessing tree roots? You wonder, don’t you. Why are they there? Who put them in? What’s behind them? I must have sat and waited, not that I remember that bit, not clearly but the next thing I knew was the scraping noise. The blue door was opening.
I had a momentary panic, hunting for somewhere to hide but then I thought, why? So I stayed and watched and what a weird thing. Little people. Really small people.
Again, full disclosure: of course they weren’t people. Not humans. Humans aren’t about a foot tall. That size thing was really odd, yes, but also why would small people put in even smaller doors? It meant a struggle to get out.
I was so focused on that first person… what would you call them? I thought of Leprechauns but seriously? Anyway, I was so engrossed watching that thing squeeze out of his… oh heck, even pronouns are a challenge… his door that I missed the fact dozens, maybe hundreds of others had also emerged. They formed a group and moved off, like bipedal ants. The one from the blue door stayed, pacing around the space between the trees.
I was thinking how cute they were and what the TV and social media would make of this amazing discovery when the mini-hoards returned, dragging a carcass. Probably a fox. There was a hum of noise and then they all swarmed over it, ripping the flesh off, fur and all. It took no time. It was so quick there wasn’t time for the blood to spill. And then… then they crushed the bones. With their teeth. Just dust.
Talk about stunned. By the time I’d got my focus back, the place was quiet, just those doors.
Maybe a day passed, maybe more, but there were more doors, more ant people and more dead animals.
Then things changed. Like a lurch in the globe’s axis kind of change. The ant people came back from their night’s hunt with a small child. A boy I think. And the same thing happened. He was devoured in moments. So fast I couldn’t even move, let alone shout.
That was yesterday. Today is the anniversary, the day Jane will come and say hi, lay some flowers. Within a few feet of those wretched doors.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m mad, there aren’t any doors, I’m hallucinating, I must be demented. And why don’t I warn anyone?
The police have been, hunting the lost boy, that much I understood. But they never saw the doors, no one did. That’s one thing you learn when you become a ghost. You see colours in a wider spectrum than when you were alive. That and no one can hear you anymore. Sense you, yes, but you can scream and there’s not even a leaf to shake.
I’m desperate to warn her, tell her to keep away. But what on Earth can I do?
This was written in response to this month’s #blogbattle prompt, ‘miniature’