I know what's wrong in the woods.

We know now that the attempt to sate them in Gerlach was all wrong. You can't work desert rites to sate the redwood ghosts, and it's too late now to unlock the rivers stacked up behind dams. It's all too late, knocked out of balance in our greed and our hunger.

We should have burnt the trees before they began to swallow up the fires, and before their strange children came walking back out of the dark hearts of the giants.

But we wanted more, and we reaped more when the winds came, every year, until it was too late. Until they tried... other things. Leaving the first-born son bound before the wildfire. Circles at the full moon. Calling those we'd displaced back to their homes.

A few came back. They told us: too late, not enough. Far too late.

There's too much food now, and the fires are hungry. And they'll never get up from such a feast as we've set them now.

It's not the trees they want now: they've taken the ash and coals into themselves, and the fallen now too. They've taken the shape of the people we sacrificed to them, too, and the faces of those who didn't run fast enough.

This year when the wildfires swept down from the mountains, they came on two feet, smiling. They came with familiar faces, and their eyes burning like the fiery heart of the forest gone mad.

I know what's wrong in the woods, but it's far too late now.

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