The sky had just turned a hue of burnt pink. The silence of the evening had gotten louder and seeped into the house with peppered zooms of passing cars. Their headlights seemed to judge the very road they needed. Exhausted, I slowly peeled my limp body out of the chair. The task that lay ahead was an unsavory one, but one that was imperative.
As I walked outside the crisp fall air turned the hairs on my arm upright. My tired hands grabbed the shovel and pickaxe. They were not going to enjoy this.
The ground was tough and frigid, but broke fairly easily. I was not confident with how deep to go. With each shove of the spade, I couldn’t help but think, “Why me?”. The darkness in the earth got wider. And darker. Distant canines howled. The earth became more red the further I dug. As I kept digging, twigs of roots mocked me, making it difficult to fully remove the dirt I had previously carved out. But I kept digging. And digging. Cars continued to pass on the main road slowly, but paying no attention to my dirty deed. The twigs got bigger. And louder. Until finally, like a science fiction film, I was confronted with the queen to all of the drones. Gnarled, twisted. The contours and crevices formed the ancient face of a dark witch. She was directly in my path.
The shovel could go no further. It was time. I grabbed the pickaxe and frantically pierced and pulled to try and separate the fibers from each other like that of animal flesh. Switching to the cutter end of the pickaxe, I hacked and hacked. Bits of plant matter zoomed by my face. Water splattered on my hands and shirt. The old witch laughed at me. The more I removed, the more there was. Another whack. I silently screamed in my head. I stopped. Blood slowly oozed from my hand. With the last swing of the pickaxe, I had inadvertently scraped my hand on a rock. The blood mixed with the caked dirt on my hands making a deep red. It hurt, but only on the outside. My mind was numb. I was so tired.
Determined, I kept hacking and digging. I traded off between the shovel and the pickaxe. Nothing made sense anymore. I then realized there was no way around it. I had to use the hacksaw. Carefully, but quickly I held the queen steady with my left hand and with my bloody right hand I began sawing. It went quickly. I removed bits of the queen root piece by tiny piece. The laughing faded but had not stopped. I had to keep going.
The earth became softer. And colder. My body was aching. I had started using my hands as the ground became mud. Water was seeping through ground. My hands tediously scooped out handfuls of mud like entrails of a cadaver.
I wiped the cold sweat from my forehead, smearing blood and mud across my face. Just when I thought I could go no further, I scraped out one more pile of soggy, red earth. Finally, I saw it. The off-white hue of a cylindrical object peeked through the mess around it. As if a doctor had given me an adrenaline shot to the heart, I scooped and scraped out piles of dirt, compacting the earth beneath my fingernails. And there it was. The long femur bone like shape that was both a blessing and a curse. The queen root had wrapped herself around the poor thing like a boa constrictor, contorting and distorting it to the point of rupture. The faded laughing had transition to cries and then to sighs of relief. The old thing was out of its misery. Who knows how long it had been there, suffering the wrath of the queen.