We laughed at him at first. An army was trained men with guns and armor. One couldn't make an army from the things just laying around in nature, it was simply a joke. A wise man once said that the men who have silly ideas but the will to fulfill them should be feared. I never understood that. Surely if someone had a stupid idea, then they would bring about their own downfall, but I was wrong. When someone puts their mind to something, truly puts their hearts and souls into it, then the world will tremble.
I heard a few things about what he was doing. He had locked himself in his chambers and read, read everything he could. Military battle plans, biologist's texts, even occult tomes. I imagined he was going to keep reading until he ran out of money or died, such was the way of the world. He kept saying he was onto something, something interesting, but what could it be? The man was deluded in thinking he could create an army simply out of nothing. Sad, really, he wasn't that bad a guy. Soon he disappeared off the radar entirely, and we forgot about him.
The years went by. We began noting odd things. Where he lived, the animals began to act oddly. Almost organized. The trees began to grow in odd formations, orderly and seemingly planned in their growth. Even the rocks themselves moved when no-one was looking. Of course, we dismissed it as superstition and the gossip of an unenlightened bunch of hicks.
Then there was an attack on the town itself.
Every single person dead. Not a single survivor. It was odd walking through the town, untouched by the invaders, but with every inch covered by dead bodies. You could trip easily on them. All the corpses had died from bite or claw wounds. Not one was shot or even beaten to death, they were all simply torn apart, or so it seemed. It was dismissed by the local authorities as some sort of a wild animal attack, perhaps by a pack of wild dogs. People moved on.
The next year, animal attacks doubled in that area. Then doubled that the year after. Trees began invading homes, growing impossibly huge in days, infesting the houses like vines. Breaking open windows, doors, and even walls. The area of this madness expanded, eventually growing to the size of the county area. People moved away from the county in doves, and eventually it became one of the abandoned places of this world. Like Chernobyl, or Centralia. The trees grew over the land and within a year it was hard to even see the towns, the trees had made such a thick canopy.
People talked about it, and thought about what it could mean. After the usual round of half-baked conspiracy theories, we settled on a combination of an outbreak of rabies and the release of an experimental fertilizer that got out of control by some corporation. It was bullshit but it was the best we could come up with. Eventually we grew bored with it and stopped thinking about it since it only hit dead ends. People tried resettling, but the animals were aggressive and the trees grew too fast to even bother with it. On the outer edges, there was plenty of abandoned construction sites, already being retaken by the aggressive, strange version of nature that was the ruler of the county now.
It was the tenth anniversary of the event that things went to hell. Little did we know, the animals (Weirdly organized as per usual) began to breed on an almost factory-like level. We noticed when the number grew to hundreds on the tenth year, but that's when they attacked once again. Villages and towns were taken in the night by a horde of animals. So many dead in their beds, no-one had a chance to react. There were some survivors this time, but very few. This was a precise job. The police had to use helicopters and shotguns just to prevent the animals from continuing their march. The trees grew quickly in the towns that had been taken.
This time, we knew we had to act. In a covert operation, we used flamethrowers and pesticide to halt further growth. If the media found out, they would crucify us, but the alternative could have been unthinkable. We needed to take back the towns anyway. It worked. We blamed the massive destruction on a forest fire, and we began work on our other, more official project: fences and walls to keep the forest in. By the time we were done (We had to work fast as the forest was already growing again), we built the perfect defense against the growth of a rogue grove. The forest halted completely and the problem seemed to be solved.
People wondered, though, and like all things it went wrong. Some idiot hippies thought the forest was mother Gaia or something, and they sneaked through the fences and went over the wall, and into the forest. We found them in the morning, screaming and weeping and trying to escape the forest. A tree, they said, had bitten them. How that even worked, we had no idea, but they were badly wounded. We gave them a check-up, found nothing, and sent them home.
If this was a real army, if nature had taken up arms and tried to wipe us out, if the animals were the footsoldiers... The hippies were now the suicide bombers.
In their wounds and in their lungs, they were full with seeds. Sometimes the seeds fell off and began to grow, other times it simply grew out of them and impaled them on a rapidly growing trunk, but where they finally died, the call of the wild began to echo.
Things went bad. One of them got to a major city, the rest were spread out enough to be a problem. Too many forests to deal with at once, too fast to kill, too tough to burn. The trees had changed since we had used fire. They were proofed against it. That's when we started losing the fight. We lost ground, we lost a lot of people, and soon we lost the country entirely. Even with all our tech, our thermobaric bombs and our tanks, nature simply couldn't be beaten. We considered a nuclear bombardment but the resulting nuclear winter was unthinkable, even if it did kill it off. However, from one of the functioning computers in the country, we got a message.
We traced it to the house where our mutual friend once lived. He had been reading for years, and then he figured it out. What he was trying to do. He controlled the animals, the trees, everything. He had taken the country and he was ready to take the rest of the world over, but he had an ultimatum. We would surrender. We would let him annex the country entirely, and make no attempt to take it back. He would do nothing to the rest of the world, he would just stay put. After much arguing, we finally decided that trying to kill him was much more of a risky proposition then just letting him have it. If we did kill him, what if this let out a signal to the animals to wipe out the world? We talked and talked, and eventually we let him have it.
That was years ago. Every inch of the country now bristles with trees. The animals and trees continue to reform and evolve, becoming more and more strange as time goes on. We still have no idea how he did it, but we knew he wouldn't be trifled with. We know he could destroy us if he wanted to. We don't even know if he's still alive, but the trees still grow so does it even matter?
He's won. He's gotten what he wanted, a whole kingdom without a single human in it to rule. He has the forests and every creature behind him, from the ants to the deer and the wolves. He has taken our country, where we have lived all our lives, and twisted it into a nightmare of leaves.
A wise man once said that the people with the silliest ideas but the will to do it will make the world tremble.
I wish he wasn't right.