“I look at the trees, green and growing, and I see a ruin of skeletal limbs, black bark against a stark white sky. Winter, forever. Or, worse, just a stump. Nothing left at all.” He wouldn’t meet her eyes. “It’s the same… with everything. Inside, there’s a death, clawing its way to the surface. Inevitable.” His hands wrung each other, pale fish writhing in a sunless well.
“Look deeper,” she said. She held out the bit of spongy wood she’d taken from the trunk. The soft white bulb of a mushroom clung to its surface. “Just a little deeper inside.”