autochthonous - \aw-TAHK-thuh-nus\
1 indigenous, native
2 formed or originating in the place where found
Their little community had been in the glade since as long as anyone had memories. In the scripture, such as it was, they had sprouted from the soil fully formed. They were the owners of this land.
There were others they allowed to enjoy the glade of course. Bumble bees that passed through on a trade route. Never staying long, merely taking a bit of their wares and going forth. There were sometimes ants and spiders that made temporary homes in the shade of the trees. It was peaceful, and the community thrived.
The change comes gradually at first. A haunting presence just out of sight in the deeper, darker tangle of the forest surrounding the glade. There were murmurs through the community. Whispers about the presence, worried shifting of leaves that might have been mistaken for effects of a gentle breeze. Everyone turns their faces to the tree line and watches. For several long days there is no change other than the unusual absence of the bumble bees passing through.
It is agreed that this is unnerving.
They are shaking the morning dew from their petals when they see the treacherous and eerily still vines tumbling out from the forest and stretching their first shadowy fingers into the glade. The vines are a deep and dangerous green that verges on black and their origin is hidden in the depths of the trees. The community erupts in a panic.
Petals trembling, leaves stretching and reaching for something, anything. No one can fly, like the bees, or crawl like the ants. They are left only to stand and wait, eyeing the vines with trepidation.
It is two days later that they lose their first member. He had grown at the outer edges of the community, and when the sun breaks, the vines twist and curl in the place he used to be. The panic grows.
It seems to come on faster now. Those on the far side of the glade who until now only heard rumors can now see the crushing vines weaving tendrils through their friends, their family. Those that are left feel as if they can actually see the vines growing.
When there are only a few of them left shaking and alone in the now darkened glade silence wins out. A sense of resignation and despair causes their leaves to droop and wilt. The morning dew lingers.
On the last day, only one remains. She turns her face to the sky and watches a distant insect turn circles overhead. In stages it descends, one solitary bumble bee stumbling lower and lower. As she feels the vines begin to twist around her it lands heavily on her petals. One last trader, passing through. She wishes to give him everything she has left. The bee, as bees do, takes what is needed and with a tired push launches up and away. She watches his lopsided flight as the vines finally take over and nothing remains.
The bee flies on, small drops of pollen falling from time to time, to mark its path.