People of the Green Cloud
by Susan Anwin
The village was waking up slowly to another green morning. Its
residents hurried along the flimsy network of suspension bridges in the
weak light, trapped fireflies zigzagging angrily in their lanterns.
Life buzzed in the cobweb of settlement; every tree was connected to
every other tree, houses and bridges grew out of the trunks, an
interconnected mesh of living green, under the green clouds, above the
The villagers didn't need to mind their step, but a newcomer (not like there were
any newcomers around here) would need to watch out; there were some who
fell into the haze around the roots; no one knew what befell of them.
What was beyond that swirling green in either direction was anyone's
guess--if there was anything, at all.
Azöb scurried along one of the bridges, running errands for his
mother. He just wanted to get over and done with it--gathering spider
webs with dewdrops caught in them, catching the noise a cat's paw made,
stealing the veil between night and morning. After he was done with all
that, he'd be free to explore all the hidden nooks and crannies in the
village. Even though he grew up here, there still were secrets to
uncover, treasures to be found, as if the settlement was a little
different every day, and then there was the beyond, where nobody in
their right mind went, where his mother explicitly warned him not to go.
He didn't stop to gather his friends--they wouldn't want to go to the beyond, either.
He left the last shops and the last bridges behind. He scuttled
along branches and twigs, jumping from one to the next. He went higher
and higher in the crowns, until he reached the highest branch of the
tallest tree, where he sat perched, boring his gaze into the green
clouds. No matter how he strained his eyes, he couldn't see past them.
Disappointed, he left his vantage point and headed the opposite
direction, scuttling down the trunk, way, way down until he submerged
into the fog, and the tree started branching again. He climbed along
the longest root, until he reached the very end and hung there, casting
accusing looks at the swirling green around him. Then he got an idea.
It took him weeks to build the flimsy contraption in secret,
smuggling out parts in the small hours of the night to his hiding place
outside the village. When he was ready at last, he rushed out of the
village on the first possible occasion.
His mother might be mad at him, but she'll be proud once she hears
of the feat he accomplished, he thought, as he set to assemble the
vehicle. Her son, going where no one went before him.
The hiding place was close to the lowest roots, so he didn't have a
long way to descend with the contraption strapped to his back. Once he
reached the last point where he could still safely wedge between the
roots, he checked the joints and ropes one last time, admired the
light, yet sturdy structure, the graceful arch of the wings. He always
had a hand for building things, did Azöb. He climbed into the single
seat in the middle and pushed the glider away from the root. For a
frightening minute the glider just bumped on in the green fog, tossed
to and fro like a leaf in the storm, and he was afraid it'll just
corkscrew down into the abyss. After a few precarious moments, he
managed to straighten out its nose. Now the tangle of roots were his
sky gliding back above his head--as much as he could see of them in the
murk. He went lower, wanting to get out of the green blanket, wanting
to know as always, what was beyond. After a while, the fog started to
get thinner and thinner, and he finally saw... nothing. A black chasm
was yawning at him, sucking him in before he could alter his course,
and he began to fall endlessly.
© 2017 Susan Anwin
Bio: Ms. Anwin was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. Her
flash-fiction "Talk of Armadale Trees" was featured in the anthology My Favourite Place,
published by the Scottish Book Trust in 2012. Her short stories
"Fog-People," "Eddie's lousy Saturday," and "You'll Die as Fish" were
published by Aphelion in 2016 and 2017.
E-mail: Susan Anwin
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.