Captain's Log



Captain’s Log

Our silver metal rover lurches, and I hold my grimy tablet and punch a few cursory characters. Captain’s Log. Date. Apr __, 2119. Request. My rover-mate babbles nonsensically. Our little metal cruiser skips between the tall trunks of evergreens, nearly colliding with them. With each near-crash Ben laughs, with that look in the eye, the same look as when we saw the gray, human-shaped forest spirits. The satellite—high above this cathedral of forest—miraculously sends a beeping reply. Communication channel acknowledged.

Type: Must escape Prey Lang forest. Efforts to harvest forest goods failed. The ancient forest is alive, has grown, is attacking.

The signal hisses, radio silence. Then I see it: Blocking the path—a massive bole of an expanded, giant evergreen. Possibly Cinnamomum.  Visuals like an oak tree, and possessing ever-green leaves; grows here in Cambodia and prized for its medicinal bark. This tree has shot up skyscraper-tall. Taller even than the other trees that have doubled, tripled their size, over the last two weeks. Ben and I toss our heads back. We steer away, last minute, down another tiny corridor through this green, vibrant hell.

Ben gurgles and clutches his throat, as if choking. Type: Lieutenant’s grown mad. Then I remember he’s allergic to the pollen of these trees. How much must be flying through the air by the willing of that giant tree?

Type: Mission to colonize failing. Ben claims it’s the natives we killed, reborn as tree spirits. When Ben could claim anything—now he foams at the mouth. Type: Lost. Most roads vanished last week. Type: Alert: Mission Colonize Pristine Lands failed. A red triangle flashes on my tablet screen, indicating a transmission error. Suddenly, the canopy becomes dense, shadowing us into green darkness. These woods stands thousands of square miles thick; with our rover and Global Positioning System confused, how will we ever find our way out? Ben, still grabbing his throat with one hand, points at a satellite dish protruding from a low metal hut. A station hidden away in a lower stand of woods, left by Chinese invaders, perhaps, and I instantly hope we might seek provisions.

The golden dial of our GPS spins ever-more madly. Staunchly rising before us is another majestic trunk, with broccoli-headed crown. Something crenellated emerges from the side, a massive, jagged-bark arm reaching tentatively around the other trees, and then swinging low and loud into the small clearing we inhabit, a giant wrecker headed right toward us.

I don’t know if I can signal the satellite. I want to try. I want to cry out and Type: Return us to the Waste & Recycling colony. Leave this nature to the heathens.  I want to punch the tablet in frustration.

Here’s what I type: No—help—

Heather Sager


Heather Sager is an author of poetry and short fiction. Her recent writing appears in Mantis, Alba: A Journal of Short Poetry, Nightingale & Sparrow, Sweet Tree Review, Little Patuxent Review, The Cabinet of Heed, Umbrella Factory Magazine, The Brasilia Review, New World Writing, and CircleShow. Heather grew up in rural Minnesota and lives in Illinois.

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