Chapter 4: Getting Away
Miroku had often meditated to the sound of trees rustling and bending in the wind. The sibilant sounds of the air as it moved gently through the green and aged life of trees was especially soothing and could easily aid him in his loss of purposeful thought. Even the quiet groaning of some trees as they stretched a little beyond their limit was a not unpleasant sound. The movement of nature always sounded right and fitting. It could make a person feel at home even when away from what was known. The sounds these trees and plants were making as they became reanimated were exactly like that.
Except for being totally opposite.
Both Miroku and Sango shuddered at the sounds these trees, these plants made. It went further than simple groaning and gentle swishing. The plants almost moaned with movement and screamed in pain, hissing sharply as bark scraped bark. The sounds put Sango and Miroku's teeth on edge and made their ears squint.
Sango was glad that her left ear was shielded from the frightening noises of the awakening plants. Miroku's heartbeat thudded hard and rhythmically against the side of her face, betraying his fear. Sango's own heart synched up with his, mirroring his terror. Neither of them knew what these vines and branches had planned for them. And judging by their previous actions, pinning them in such an uncomfortable and otherwise compromising position, Miroku and Sango wouldn't put anything past the damned weeds: those sadistic, evil, smothering, woody bastards. The pair simultaneously wished for a well-timed and well-placed forest fire to take care of their prison bars just as soon as they were free from them.
None of the plant life directly touching Miroku and Sango had moved, only the non-contact foliage. The cold, dark night also prevented Miroku from seeing exactly what shape or form these possessed plants, nourished by his own seeping blood, were going to take.
Miroku's imagination began to work and build possible scenarios that he and Sango would have to deal with. Mostly, Miroku imagined that the twining and hissing and creaking plant life as a pit of vampiric snakes descending downward to strike and suck out even more life from their entrapped human prey.
Sango's vision was somewhat obstructed by virtue of not being able to look up into the dark construct of vine-y confinement. However, her imagination grew just as active as Miroku's. She mostly thought that the slithering roots and shrubbery would resemble a bowl of noodles being stirred by a pair of chopsticks. But this was probably because she had missed lunch and was terribly hungry. While her hunger took a lower priority than did the immediate threat to her life by homicidal plants, her unconscious brain couldn't help but provide the culinary vision to help remind her to, if and when she got out, grab a snack. Something starchy, if it was available. But really, anything would do as long as it was food and filled her stomach.
Visions of a descending ball of venomous snakes or bowls of noodles aside, Miroku and Sango could more feel the movement of the plants by the subtle changes in the atmosphere than they could see it in the black darkness of the night. This lack of visual sense created its own, slightly higher, level of terror for them. They would have to confront the unknown. The shifting and sliding plants moved the air around them, creating different pressures, different paths for the cold breeze that was suddenly chilling different parts of their bodies.
"What do we do, Houshi-sama?" whispered Sango, suddenly afraid that the plants might be able to hear and understand them. Which was silly because plants don't have ears. Also, it's incredibly anthro-centric to assume that the plants would understand human language. But in her terrorized state, one can forgive Sango's humanoid-ism.
"I don't know," responded Miroku, biting off a cry as the branch pinning his left wrist suddenly pressed and rotated in a swift jerk, the pointed offshoot shallowly slicing open the back of his forearm.
"Houshi-sama!" hissed Sango before her own voice was stolen by a precise and agonizing pain in her knee as roots holding her foot pressed it to the left while other vines and plants refused to let her thigh follow. The tendons in her knee screamed and she echoed them with a scared yelp in pain.
Miroku knew it was all ending, whether they were prepared for it or not. The smell of Sango's terror (and his own) filled the air with the sour sweat of open pores and bitter bile of panting lungs.
As soon as the plants holding her foot had mercifully stopped trying to twist off her lower right leg, the root under Miroku's back began to slide in a sawing motion, back and forth, under him, crushing and severing more blood vessels in order to further feed its obsessive need for revenge as the forest witch's proxy.
Miroku groaned at the feeling that was not so much pain as it was a nauseating energy radiating through his lower back, causing his lungs to shudder and refuse to move in either inhalation or exhalation. The movement would kill him through suffocation if it kept up.
In her few seconds of reprieve from the pain in her knee (which had only dulled to a slow and persistent throb), Sango could think clearly. She put every thought she had, every ounce of energy, into devising a way out of their situation.
Her mind refused to cooperate with her, preferring to feign blissful ignorance to the situation in its very occurrence and in finding a way out of it.
Knowing that she had only seconds left before the plants would continue to try and dismember her, Sango despaired and rallied her brain to work for her. She clenched her teeth and tried to beat her head against Miroku's chest to jolt her cerebrum into action.
And in doing so, a Sango heard a sound so soft that she almost didn't hear it over Miroku's harried heart and panting breath or the shrieking trees. It was the soft sound of crinkling paper. Miroku's sacred sutras were stored in the folds of his kesa and robes just under her head. He had weapons on him still. It would just be a matter of freeing a hand to reach them.
While trying to wrench her bloodied left hand from under Miroku, she exclaimed over the noise of the moving plants, "Your sutras! We've got to do something to seal their power!"
Even though neither thought it was possible, the branches moved to press them together even more, crushing them and allowing for even less movement. Sango's hand under Miroku was not going to move even a millimeter.
Miroku heard Sango over the pain sparking in his back and also knew there was no way to get to his spiritual weapons. He thought that they might work if they only had a little more room to move. All they needed was a little relief, maybe a little time to think and strategize a way through the labyrinth of vegetation.
That was so not going to happen if the plants had their way. And it was they who were very much in charge and would have their way.
Feeling the stirring resistance of the humans in their grasp, the roots and vines turned mean. Well, meaner. They had the best grip on Sango, so they simultaneously bent her leg and arm, seeing if they couldn't make her hand meet her foot behind her.
Sango screamed, actually screamed. Cramps overtook her aching back, arching her spine in an attempt to break it to find some kind of relief. The muscles along her right abdomen also cramped in a counter-balancing maneuver. Pain exploded in the muscles that fought themselves and the pulling plant life. Sango screamed.
Miroku had thought that the mere movements of these plants were the worst things he had ever heard. Wow, was he ever wrong about that. Sango's screaming made him frightened. Beyond frightened. He thought he might actually have to witness Sango's breaking, her being ripped apart, and his whole being rebelled against the thought.
Any fate, hers or his, was preferable to that. Miroku knew he really had only one option left: His kazaana.
He knew that it was entirely likely that he and Sango and everything else around them could be sucked in. He prayed for luck.
The pulsing and moving plants inched Sango's appendages ever closer with cruel slowness. Miroku gave Sango's nose one last scratch and hoped it conveyed all of the apology and comfort for her that he meant for it to have. Then he pressed his hand up into the moving snake bed.
Luck was on his side. He managed to find and wriggle his hand into a moving gap between two branches as they moved up and toward his head. Truthfully, the plants were pleasantly surprised to catch such a great hold of the monk, thinking they might get to divest him of his arm at the same time they would claim the demon slayer's.
Miroku felt his arm extend straight up from his shoulder, perpendicular to the ground. Then it began to move to directly over his head. He did his best to move and twist his hand to face upwards, keeping the wind tunnel as turned away from both him and Sango as much as he could.
Sango had stopped screaming. Miroku stole a glance down at her and saw her face was drawn and gray. Her breaths were coming in short pants. He knew he was doing the right thing. Now if only he could get his rosary off.
Again, luck was on Miroku's side. The nasty little knot was more hell bent than ever to get at Miroku's rosary, to win the battle that it had been too weak to succeed in previously. Cackling in it's own (silent to human ears) timbered manner, the knot directed itself to the monk's wrist, which was held as though offering a salutation to a friend across a crowded room.
Miroku felt the hateful energy of that knot and knew that it was all but over, one way or another. There was a real risk that he would be successful in just pulling in the plants, but that they would also retain their hold on Sango and him and manage to pull them into the void as well.
So with wild hope borne of desperation for freedom, he cried out, "Hang on, Sango!" The nasty little knot scraped up Miroku's forearm and caught the nearly-broken rosary with its fibrous teeth and rejoiced in the snapping of the thread that would be its own undoing. Miroku yelled, "Wind tunnel!"
Sango, through her pain and unawareness of Miroku's intentions, was relieved that he could joke at a time like that. Maybe things weren't so dire if he still could make a jest. It gave her hope and she almost managed a ghost of a smile until she heard the violent winds begin to stir. The realization hit her that that stupid monk had been serious.
"Oh…shit," she breathed and braced herself as well as she could for whatever fate awaited her.
The only entity enjoying itself at that instant was Miroku's wind tunnel. The consummate nudist, the kazaana was only clothed under duress. Free of the binding rosary and unusual glove Miroku wore, the black void enjoyed the feeling of freedom that came with being naked for all of the world to see. Well, to see and then run away frightened and screaming. Ever the exhibitionist, it drew people in to look at it in all of its exposed gorgeousity. It pulled them a little too close, but it figured that it was a fair price to pay for seeing such splendid sight.
The wind tunnel sucked. It sucked in the possessed plants, starting with the nasty little knot. It sucked and pulled and drew everything it could into its gaping maw. It was diarrhea in reverse and it delighted in its consumption, sacrificing the world around it to its own vanity.
The branches and vines now screamed in terror, not knowing this strange magic of the monk. They really could not have been expected to know that such a curse was possible. Even though they were old, around for decades, they were mere newborns in the ways of evil and magic.
So the kazaana caught them a little off guard as they found themselves hurtling toward the void.
The hold on Miroku and Sango lightened, loosened.
Sango was ready. Through the pain, she tore her left leg free of the branches. She brought it down to the ground on the outside of Miroku's right leg and used it to help push herself up a bit to take the weight off of Miroku and her own left hand.
In their last effort to wreak their vengeance, the plants retained their grip on Sango's right wrist, willing to take her into the black hole with them.
Sango gasped as she felt her arm being dragged toward the kazaana and knew the plants would not release her.
Miroku heard her gasp and immediately knew what was happening. It was what he had been most afraid of. He tried to clutch her to him with his left hand. But his fingers, dead from cold and bloodlessness, would not grip her, could not even feel her. Miroku grinded his teeth together and pressed her down into him and knew she was slipping.
As Sango felt her arm stretch upwards toward that cursed vortex she grabbed at anything that could stay her progression long enough to work her plan. She knew she was inches, less than inches away from disappearing when she caught something and held.
It was Miroku's right wrist. She squeezed and ground the small bones of his wrist together in her grip, refusing to let go. Miroku had shut his eyes, afraid that the last thing he would see was Sango disappearing into his wind tunnel. Feeling her hold onto him, he was both relieved and pained. Sango had a grip like a vise and she was definitely not afraid to use her strength against him.
The branch around her wrist had no more hold and kept slithering its way into the kazaana, taking the top few layers of skin from Sango's wrist along with it.
Her hair flying wildly about them amidst the screaming terror of the plant life, Sango found herself able to bring herself to her knees and elbows and unpin her arm from under Miroku. Quickly, she guided her hand into the pocket of his robes and clutched at whatever treasures she could find there.
Her fingers fumbled past the sacred sutras that would only be sucked into the wind tunnel. She finally felt what she had been hoping was there.
He had an extra rosary.
Thank goodness that monk was not so dumb as he let on sometimes.
Sango reached up and wound the rosary around Miroku's wrist, sealing the kazaana. Forced back into the constricting clothing, the wind tunnel pouted and preened, waiting with anticipation for the next opportunity to be in the buff for all the world to see.
When the whooshing of the winds had quieted, Miroku decided it was safe to sneak a peek out of one eyelid. He saw Sango rising to her feet. He saw different parts of plants writhing around like worms cut in half before falling limp. He saw the starry night sky and breathed a sigh of relief.
Sango reached down and helped him to his feet and the pair quickly grabbed their dropped weapons limped away the area, not sure if the plants were playing possum or if they were really dead and frozen. Not that they cared at the moment. They would come back later and make sure. But for the time being, they just wanted away from there.
Once in a clearing with plants no stronger than grass and flower stems, they could relax a little. Sango stretched her back and left leg and delighted in the feeling of blood moving through her moving muscles once again. Miroku flexed his left hand and winced as feeling came painfully to the numb fingers. But he was relieved that the feeling did come back and that there didn't appear to be any serious damage.
Sango tended to Miroku's laceration on his back. They tended to each other's more minor scrapes and bruises.
The subject of Miroku's hand on Sango's rear end for the time they had been pinned together was not brought up.
Not much was said at all. Sango ate some dinner, but Miroku wasn't hungry.
They laid out their bed rolls and tried to sleep.
Miroku was surprised to find that the most comfortable position was flat on his back because it didn't move or tear his deep wound and downward pressure helped keep it closed. He gradually fell asleep.
Sango tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable. The night was cold and her back was a mass of exhausted, cramped muscle. She guessed that she would be too sore to move it very much at all the next day if the night did not warm up.
The day had exhausted her, but she felt too keyed up to drift to sleep. She felt like she was missing something. Sango glared over at Miroku, jealous that he could sleep during this cold night.
He looked so warm.
Later, she would claim extreme exhaustion, somnambulism, or temporary insanity, but Sango couldn't stand the cold of that night. She crawled over to him, laid down beside the left side of him, and pillowed her head on his chest, her right ear over his heart as she drifted off to the tune of his steady heartbeat. Her arms clutched his sides and warmed.
Miroku did not wake up. But he did grin happily in his sleep. And his right hand came up and placed itself within scratching distance of her nose. And his left hand reflexively came up and wrapped itself around her waist, drawing her warmth down into him. And later in the night, as his left hand would found its way down to her bottom, a more licentious grin spread across the monk's face.
Their positions would not have appeared all that uncomfortable to the casual observer, had there been anyone around to casually observe them. In fact, this hypothetical casual observer would have thought that the two looked rather cozy.
He or she would have been right.
Imagine Papa Roach's, "Getting Away with Murder" lyrics here.
Aamalie: I don't think you want my blood. I pollute it with too many unhealthy things. But thanks a lot for all of your very nice reviews. I almost feel like a story or chapter doesn't count until you've reviewed (which you're always like the first one to do). So thanks!
Fantastical Queen: (laughing) I usually do one of two things when I'm faced with an "I love you," I can't say back. 1) Pretend I didn't hear it. This works surprisingly well. 2) Say "Thank you!" and give the nicest complement I can come up with, then figure out a way out of the relationship because it's on its way to the graveyard. (It's not that I don't love these people all of the time, I just sometimes feel like I'm lying if I haven't known the person for more than a couple of years.)
Fred the Mutant Pickle: You and I love the same imaginary characters! I just had to bring the knot back, too.
Iggy: I think Sango was temporarily insane with relief at the scratch when she considered saying it was okay for him to be touching her. And Miroku definitely needed to open that kazaana.
lodz: While I can't claim first-hand knowledge on men's thought processes, it has been my experience that they are very… uncomplicated. And everybody loves Parsimony. (See Author's Ramblings below.)
And to Demon Exterminator Barbie, baby boo 143, Wave Singer, Jessay, Rivertam, Lady-Sango 77, Pyrinsomniac, and afan: Sorry. I'm too worn out to respond individually. But I really thank you for your reviews. I'm glad that you read and that you liked it enough to drop me a line. My main goal is just not to waste nice readers' time with bad writing. Everything else is just frosting.