There’s no telling how long it had been there. The quicksand in these parts was tricky, and it was hungry, but this particular pool of the stuff was… inert.
Glenda had no idea why, but she’d been studying it for weeks. While the pockets of quicksand around the village were always full of the carcasses of rabbits and squirrels, even hogs and the occasional deer, this one was always empty.
She threw rocks at it, occasionally, and they sank just the way they should have, in quicksand, but the pool never caught anything live. Glenda sat, cross-legged, on a boulder at the edge of the quicksand, chin on her palm, considering it. What did it want, if not prey? Wasn’t quicksand malicious? It was what she’d learned her entire life – you had to watch out, because when you least expected it, the quicksand was going to jump out and get you. She’d lived by that, even as a student of the wood, even when her peers married and started having their children, started vocations and families and life courses.
Glenda stayed in the woods, watching the quicksand, watching the animals, the trees, learning the ways the frogs acted during their seasonal heat and the way the deer spirited themselves away to give birth to their fawns. She knew the sound of the earth when the great oaks grew, and the way the air breathed on fine days as the rain rolled in.
She knew quicksand. She’d avoided it most of her life.
But this one slept, and she did not know why.
It had been months that she’d known about it, now, and she’d yet to unearth a single of its secrets.
She knew what she had to do. Why she continued to return to this place over and over again to stare at the sleek-surfaced sand. Knew what it felt like, to step into the loose pit. Always before, she’d scrambled away, reaching, grabbing, thrashing for safety.
Today was different. Her feet disappeared, and then her knees, and she slipped off of the rock, closing her eyes as the sand reached her face, drawing her down. It may have slept, but it had never forgotten what it was.
She didn’t know what she would find at the bottom, but she had had a dream of a tunnel of sand that lead to another world, one that was out waiting for her in the forest, waiting, sleeping, ready. Not just quicksand. Not just sleeping. Something that was there, just for her, turning away everything else. As her lungs began to burn and a rush of blind sand flowed over her face, Glenda wondered what waited for her at the end.