Christina Lake — The Sleeper Stone

When Elinor saw the body of the creature entangled in the roots of the tree, she thought it must be dead. It looked as if it’d been there so long that parts of the tree had grown across it. But when she stooped down and touched her hand to the face, the skin felt warm, and as she moved her hand across the bristly hairs on its upper lip, she sensed a slight breath. She jumped back, alarmed.

It was dark in this part of the woods, but Elinor could see well enough to realise that the scrawny mutoid was dressed in old-fashioned clothes like the portrait of Thomas Hardy hanging in the Central Dining Hall.

Its eyes flickered; limbs twitched, attempting to stretch. For a moment the creature Thrashed about, constricted by the surrounding vegetation.

Then the body stilled, and its eyes opened. In that instant, Elinor realised that this was no suneater.

The man started to cough. When he recovered, Elinor was surprised, given his state, to hear him speak quite lucidly. “Can you help? I appear to be trapped.”

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