Synaesthesia Magazine Green - Page 19

and again. Bark that had been armour for a thousand years flew off in shreds. The supple flesh within poured with a green speckled sap that flew off the blade of the axe and splashed upon the ground. For seven hours Amanojaku kept at his horrendous act. He hacked and he hacked until, as the storm subsided and the morning sun broke over the mountains, Hohodemi finally crashed into the mountainside with the force of an earthquake.

Elated, but stunned at the magnitude of his crimes, Amanojaku approached the remains of Hohodemi. The woods were silent once again. He laid a hand on the torn shreds of Hohodemi's trunk. The demon sneered. "You deserved this, pathetic sapling.” He expected no answer, but one came to him, as strong and implacable as when Hohodemi stood one hundred feet tall, "I have answered for my crimes with your justice, but I would not have others suffer for it. I offer you my divinity, knowledge and power in the hope that you will protect the valley in my stead. I beg you."

Amanojaku did not answer, wary of the offer, and more wary still of his hope and greed, rising within him like a snake. Hohodemi continued, "Drink my sap and you shall earn your heart's desire. Drink my sap and you shall be as a god. Drink my sap and you will be loved. I disregarded their love as an inconvenience, rather than the gift and responsibility it was. Drink my sap, little demon, and your deepest desire shall be realised."

Amanojaku, overcome with greed, began to scoop handfuls of the viscous green fluid leaking from Hohodemi's corpse. With every mouthful, he envisioned the villagers worshiping him, offering their love and devotion to the font of all life. A worthy god.

After a dozen swallows and a belly full of sap, Amanojaku found that he could drink no more. Falling to the ground in a muddled haze, he barely noticed as his bony arms cracked and creaked and began to twist at odd angles, becoming longer and longer, shooting skywards. His squat little legs exploded with a thousand little hairs that shot into the earth and anchored him. His greenish hue mottled into a light brown, and pink blossoms erupted above his head. The world went dark, and silent, and numb.

The villagers were tossed out of their beds at the sound of Hohodemi’s fall, certain something profound had changed in the valley. They made their way up the great stone steps towards Aomiya, fearful at what they might find at the top.

They saw Hohodemi was no more, not even a broken corpse. In his place stood a young cherry blossom, ugly and twisted, caught in a pose that looked almost like enduring agony. Though they could not explain its presence, they took the new tree as a merciful gift from their benevolent and now absent god. They fell to their knees and began to pray to their new guardian of the valley.

For Amanojaku, it was a hollow sentiment.

Vincent Kenny enjoys Japanese food, mid 90s Peter Engel-produced teen programming, and writing pulp horror. He is currently writing a story about a talking cat.