Thin white webs in blackest darkness, working in silence. Connections created, exchange enabled. They breathe in death and breathe out life.
Billions of tiny spores are blowing like invisible snow on the forest floor. Where one falls, a new network springs up. They are all around us and in us. They were here before us, and they will be here when we are gone. They whisper to me, but I don’t understand them. A chorus of tiny rapid voices conveying too much information for a single human mind. I don’t understand, but I want to.
Sleep leaves me slowly and gently, just as it came.
I open the door and enter the trailer filled with the smell of mushrooms. There is a candle burning on the side table next to the bed, and at the other end of the trailer there is a dark bush standing.
No, it’s not a bush, it’s a person. An old woman. Where does her hair end and where does the moss begin?
„The bark of the tree is used to the touch of human palms. We leave all sorts of things for them, you know. Don’t you date think it’s a one-way relationship! It’s not an equal exchange, of course, but some reciprocity always exists. Everyone is some kind of trader. Someone offers something of their own, as they take from others. Who is a parasite and who’s the symbiote? We are all parasites to the Sun, that’s right! But earthly affairs are quite vague, murky as a puddle in the rain. You eat the seeds, take a walk, relieve yourself, and you’ve planted a new tree! Not always, as all sorts of things still need to happen together with other participants. But often! And that’s only what can be seen, and we do many other things there that are hidden even from ourselves. Oh, yes!”
I open my mouth to speak, as the Baba cuts through my uncertainty and continues her monologue.
„Do you still think people forced domestic animals to live with them? At one time, it was a beneficial atmosphere for everyone. A situation from which neither can escape now, even if they wanted to. We’re all in the game together, you know.”
I notice that she’s rubbing a piece of wood in her hand. She puts it somewhere under her hair, among the moss, and frowns.
„Basically, I’ve had enough of all that. I get off at this stop, and you will continue in my place. You just need to bring me to the end, you know. I can’t take my own life. That is, I can, but I don’t want to. It would disturb the flow. Dirty business. Whatever you don’t already know, you’ll have to learn yourself. What, I can’t very well be expected to explain everything to an idiot!”
„I’m not an idiot, you stinking old Baba! You won’t use me”, I raise my finger sharply and continue: „I’m not a murderer and there’s no fucking way I’m going to kill you!”
Her wicked laughter fills the trailer, like the cracking of rotten branches.
„Learn to control that flame in you, child… but don’t put it out completely. Never.”
Baba takes a few steps closer to me as the entire trailer shakes under her feet.
„Look, you don’t need to kill anyone. You only need to bring some medicine to this old Baba. Could you do that for me?”
Her facial expression is determined and indomitable, but behind all that I don’t see a hint of malice.
„I don’t know… I don’t know who you are, but I feel close to you. You were in my dreams. This is all so strange.”
„That’s right, pretty girl,” she winked at me with her dark eyes.
„Leave at dawn. Put the Sun behind you and go towards the place of its setting. Cross two streams and enter the Pine forest which begins on the third hill. You know that, you were there in the first days when you came here.”
„How do you know where I was?”
Baba raises her hand, closes her eyes and continues: „Human hands planted that forest, but what grows between those trunks was planted by something else.”
I ask firmly: „How will I recognize the medicine you need?”
„Open your senses. Let the forest tell you. Enter it and take it inside yourself. Let it envelop you and let the pine resin fill all the pores of your skin. Do whatever you need to do, just go there and be there completely.”
The quest was given as silence took hold of the trailer. Only one thing remained unclear.
Baba opened her eyes and looked at me seriously with her deep blue eyes.
„And who else will do it, if not you, child? Are there any women in these woods? All the sisters-in-law have long since rushed off to the cities, chasing the curse of unfulfilled happiness. They smear their faces to hide from old age. Fear is a spice in every one of their meals, you know. It is a shame for them to step in the mud, let alone visit an old woman in the woods.”
A huge smile flooded her face and her tiny eyes glazed over, as her teeth stared at me like stone guardians.
Mighty Pines sway in the wind at the hilltop. At the entrance to their domain I see a tall limestone rock, with brown moss on top. I set it as my goal.
The closer I get, the gentler the slope, and the stranger the rock appears. So slim and tall, I feel it doesn’t belong to this place. I’m losing my breath as I walk faster, but that won’t stop me. What I see in front of me leaves me in complete disbelief.
It’s not a rock, it’s a woman.
I stop a few steps away from her. Sticky, smelly and panting.
„Baba sent me…” I blurt out words between attempts at catching my breath: „I’m looking for medicine.”
„Straighten up, sister”, her words cut through me.
I straighten up and take a long look at her. Is she young or a hundred years old?
I see no wrinkles, no shadows, no childlike roundness in her face. White skin as if it hasn’t seen a trace of sunlight, but it doesn’t look sick. She is so confident and calm. My gaze stops at the black holes, where her eyes should be. From within their depths comes a cold peace that caresses and envelops me. I have no fear.
Finally, the smell of Pine trees reaches my nose. The wind rustles gently through the thin bristles of the high crowns, as the trees slowly bend and sway. Every living thing can find peace here. I no longer feel where I end and where the air begins.
„What are you?” she asks me.
New words, long known, long forgotten, begin rolling from my lips:
„I am all that ever was, and all that ever will be.
When these memories and these bones are gone, I remain in other forms.
The cold touch of illness, a mother’s warm teat, the morning rays from the Sun that melt frost from the leaves.
It’s all me… I just forget that sometimes.”
My eyes are watering as I utter the last words before my voice breaks: „As long as there is anything, I will be a part of it. Endlessly.”
A thin smile, like a sharp sickle, begins to spread from her lips. I recognize the blade with which peasants and kings have been felled for centuries.
The woman starts to change. The slender body loses even more weight, and her head expands and takes on the shape of a saucer. She starts to shrink.
With the transformation now complete, her true form clearly stands by the Pine tree.
The Destroying Angel.