(///endlessly.hook.blotchy – Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, UK)
The villagers huddled together in the large, draughty room. The strangers milled around, asked them questions they could just about understand, made markings on the boards and papers they held in front of them. Conversed in low tones. Gave them drinks and strangely wrapped foods.
Centuries of living undiscovered in the woods, endlessly shielding themselves from others because of The Trauma, all finished. Explorers had found them and had insisted on bringing them to this place.
But The Trauma was real, The Trauma had happened and would happen again. Their ancestors had seen it and passed it down the generations, and they had resolved to isolate forever to be safe.
The strangers in their matching uniforms continued asking questions – a man with a blotchy face, a woman with orange hair. They were persistent, probing, but they seemed kind, and they wore the villagers down.
The mayor haltingly described The Trauma and the strangers drew it.
The villagers recoiled in panic when they were shown the familiar images. A little girl in a red hood. A benevolent old woman. A wolf tearing her apart from the inside and then devouring the girl. But the strangers seemed amused.
They went away and came back a few minutes later with colourful books. Lots of them. There were pictures. Of the little girl. Of the old woman. Of the wolf!
The strangers were part of it. They knew of The Trauma and celebrated it. And now they had managed to hook them in.
The villagers knew there was no escape. They only had one option now.
They would have to stand up and fight.