A writing prompt of Nature led to this vision of the Earth taking over again where humanity had failed
The walls were grimy with ivy, the cities within safe in their new practices and religions. The last brick had been plastered into place for ten years, and the scores of people left outside had been decimated by the onrush of plant life taking over the planet. Trees creeping higher and higher, their roots coming out of the ground to make wooden foot traps. Vines hanging down from branches waiting to ensnare any unsuspecting neck. Thorn bushes growing thicker and further onto paths, creating dead ends in the trails that had served as safety from the forests for so long.
Leaves now choked the roads filled with hulks of cars long forgotten in the absence of gasoline and fossil fuels. Grass and weeds reached over 6 foot in height. The animal kingdom reigned supreme in cities and towns where only ghosts of people now walked.
Cats had gone feral, and then had grown to their ancient sizes, reverted into the predators they once were. Dogs and wolves ran free in packs, catching and eating anything they came across. Insects never stopped growing with the lack of pesticides, spiders as big as easy chairs caught and ate everything; even people if they wandered close enough to their webs.
Warren had learned long ago how to survive out in the new wilderness that was the Earth. He knew when to travel at night, and where. He knew where the animals hunted; he knew where the spiders liked to set up shop. His only goal was to continue moving, he didn’t even know anymore why he was moving, or why he even had a purpose, but he was still heading forward to some unknown destination.
It had been a few days since he’d almost stumbled into a web that stretched at least fifteen feet across the old path he was struggling through. He’d been trying to find a road, or possibly a stream, something that had a direction to it. The web had been blowing easy in the wind, unattached in a few spots, and he thought it was abandoned but it paid to be sure.
Warren thought about cutting through it, but he did not want to be in the middle of slicing those strands of silky steel and have some eight-legged fanged horror come streaking down on him while he was preoccupied with a task. He turned back the way he’d been coming and went to find another way; he was not dealing with any of these new world monsters that were always voracious in their hunger. He’d seen big cats stuck in those webs, wrapped in cocoons of death, husks of their former selves, drained dry of the juices that made things alive.
He’d skirted one of the big walled cities recently also, and he thought of himself as lucky that they hadn’t seen him. Any wanderers were usually captured and put to death in some gruesome way. All the cities worshipped odd deities was what he’d been told by the dying old man he’d came across awhile back on the road. They had all gone insane, and generally sacrificed to animals gods in order to stay safe within their walls. The old man had been cast out to pacify his particular cities god of the tiger, who was to manifest into a tiger to come and devour him by nightfall.
Warren had left him where he lay and gotten away to continue his quest. Around dusk that night, he’d heard the screams from somewhere behind him and he knew that city would be satisfied in their decisions.
His mind had been reflecting lately on what had prompted the wild to reclaim the planet. Why had the plants started moving in on humanity, why had the animals gotten bolder and braver? He could only wonder that it had been the way the humans were treating the planet, and it was fighting back by forcing them into little fortresses where they could do the least amount of damage to what was left.
He shook his head to clear it of the memories, and tried to refocus on his journey. He’d begun trudging forward again when his foot came down and he heard a loud snap and then felt the white-hot bolt of pain streak up his leg. He opened his mouth to scream but no sound came out, and he put his hands on his leg. He could feel the wetness of blood filling his boot, and he knew he’d stepped onto something that used to be a bear trap. He felt a little pinprick on his back, and he knew he’d been trapped after all these years and miles. He was going to sleep, and he collapsed onto his face, oblivious to the pain in his leg. A group of men stood over Warren, discussing him.
“Well, this one should keep the eight legged god happy for another moon.”
“Yes, we must attend to his leg before he dies of the blood loss; you know she likes them alive.”
The men took out their tools and went to work on Warren’s leg, and then hours later, they gave him a small drink of a liquid. He started to come out of his fog, and they tossed him into a giant web. Warren opened his eyes, and found he couldn’t move because he was stuck in the steel strands of a spider’s web. He struggled automatically and then he felt the web tremble and all he saw was a big black body bearing down on him and then he felt the stabbing sensation of the two fangs. Warren went to sleep again, this time to not wake up.
Nature had claimed another life in its quest to take back the Earth.