The Cursed Trees
There's a small town hidden deep in the middle of nowhere that has some of the happiest people in the world, it's named Rootwood. In Rootwood there's only about one hundred families, that all help each other and know each other. As seasons change the families get together and plan what to plant so they can trade and share. Kids get together and help with chores of the neighborhood, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, trim hedges and even helping the elderly cross the street. A town where teachers make personal house calls to discuss how children are doing with the parents. The sun shines bright and the flowers bloom full of colors, not a grey spot exist in all the town.
No grey has existed in Rootwood for as long as anyone can remember, but there was a spot, a dark creepy creaky forest that parents warned kids not to go to. Parents said many things to keep children away from the forest things such as , the forest is so dark you wouldn't be able to see your way out or the boogeyman lives there and he will take you away to live in the dark forever. Strangely the forest only became this dark on Halloween night, any other day and the forest was just as bright and normal as the rest of the town. The stories of the forest scared the kids so much that none dared enter it, even if the day wasn't Halloween.
One kid claimed to know what was actually in the forest, because his mother goes every October 30th with flowers to the forest. The kid who made this claim was Harry Doflitchers, whose mother was loved by the town for her helpfulness. His mother would always offer rides to the kids who walked to school, helped setup parties, babysit and just simply asked people if there was anything they needed help with. Harry was just a normal kid, who like any other kid didn't always like to listen to his mom. When the time came for chores Harry had no problem with them, unless his mom asked, then Harry would always try to argue his way out of them. Harry's friends often tried to tell him that he should listen to his mom and that she is just looking out for him, but Harry was too stubborn for that. Harry's mom usually let him have his way most of the time, because she felt that since he was nine he would grow out of the stubborn phase.
Harry always liked to brag to his friends about how he knew what was in the forest and they didn't. Often he went on and on about how much he knew, but he never told his friends what was in the forest. Harry himself was secretly doubting that there was ever anything scary in the forest and that all the parents used the forest as a secret hiding spot for presents. As Harry stood with his friends outside school he began to brag an extra amount with all the Halloween spirit in the air, but this year his friend Kevin was fed up.
"You know what Harry? If you know so much about the forest then go in it and bring whatever is there back, or at least tell us what is supposed to be there." Kevin interjected into Harry's bragging session.
"Uh...well...uhm" Harry stumbled for words "I'll tell you, there's a tree in the center of the forest filled with golden apples. Each apple tastes different to everyone, because they taste like whatever candy flavor combination you're craving at the moment."
Kevin laughed at Harry "If that's what is out there, then our parents wouldn't scare us out, there's nothing scary about that."
"No seriously Kevin that's what's out there, I mean it. There is a bad part, if you take the apple from the tree then you give permission for the tree to take you." Harry warned.
Kevin was skeptical of Harry's claim. "Well if that's what's really in the forest, then prove it. Go into the forest tonight and get one of the apples to show us, that shouldn't be a problem since the spooky stuff only happens on Halloween."
The bell for students to head to their classes rang and so Harry and his friends parted ways. Everyone and everything went about the daily routine, roll call, pop quizzes, lunch time, receiving homework and even saying see ya tomorrow to everyone. Even though everyone else saw everything going as normal, Harry couldn't pay attention all day and was in his own head wondering if he should go to the forest that night. He mulled the idea over in his head all day weighing the pros and cons, until he made a decision. Harry figured even if everything his mom told him was true then the answer was simple, just don't take the apple. He would be able to prove to his friends the apple was real by simply taking them to it, but had to prove to himself the apple was real first before making a fool of himself.
When Harry got home he darted to his room to do all of his homework. He knew he was gonna have to lie to his mom about hanging out with friends today so he could go to the forest, but the only way she would even let him do that was if his homework was done. The sounds of footsteps came from down the hall as Harry's mother approached, probably to see why he didn't say hi.
A knock was heard on the door followed by Ms. Doflitchers voice. "Harry, sweetie, is everything ok? You didn't even yell hello when you got home.
Harry got up and opened the door to respond to his mom. "Yeah I just really want to hurry and get my homework done so I can go hangout with some friends, if that would be ok?"
"Well of course you can, just be sure to let me know when you leave. I'll just let you be and get that homework done." Ms. Dolflitchers then closed the door and left.
To Harry's luck the teacher hadn't given much homework since Halloween was so close, so he was able to finish very quickly. Before letting his mom know he was leaving, Harry decided to pack a backpack for the little trip he was gonna take. He grabbed his school bag and dumped the books out onto his bed and proceeded to fill it with bandaids, snacks, a couple waters, binoculars, a compass and even a flashlight just in case he didn't get back before dark. Harry knew he would be in big trouble if he got back after dark, but he figured he would rather be safe about the adventure.
Harry headed out of his room to find his mom and let her know he was leaving. He searched the whole house, but only found a note on the fridge for him.
"Sorry if I'm not here when you go to your friends. I had to go and get groceries for dinner tonight. Remember to be safe sweetie and be sure to be back before dark, but most of all have fun. Love, mom.
P.S. We are having your favorite for dessert, apple pie."
Harry read the note and didn't think much of it, since this was a normal thing for his mom to do. She would often forget something at the store or just go back later when she decided the dessert for that night. He joked to himself that his mom was only making the apple pie for him so she could make sure he would come back.
Harry left the house and locked the door behind him, with his supplies and on his back he was ready for anything. The sun was still shining bright at the top of the sky, giving Harry a bit more of a sense of security knowing he wouldn't be in the first at night. The forest wasn't far from his house, maybe only a few blocks. Despite Harry's disbelief in the forest stories, he was still nervous that maybe his moms was actually true. He just had to keep reassuring himself that no matter what as long as he didn't take an apple he would be fine. Harry could easily see the forest in the distance from his doorstep, thanks to the bright, clear day.
Harry could've sworn he had only taken a few steps and before he knew it he was looking at the trees that stood twenty feet high and higher. As he made his first step and ..crunch of leaves into the forest, he hesitated. That first step really made Harry rethink his idea and that maybe he should listen to his mom, but he quickly got over the idea when he reminded himself to not take an apple.
Once Harry had walked for what felt like an hour he heard a noise. He held still as an owl, rotating his head side to side trying to observe what he heard. When he was about to give up looking for the noise he saw a shadow figure run by in the distance. Harry began to get an idea of where the figure was, because he could hear the leaves crunching as it ran about. He listened very carefully and noticed the noises were headed out of the forest and so they did not concern him. He simply waited for a few minutes after he could no longer hear the figure and proceeded onward.
Harry started to realize he didn't know where exactly in the forest the apples were and if they weren't there then he might be here all night. While Harry walked he took observations of the forest around him, he was always amazed at how the forest grew so perfectly. All the trees of there forest formed straight lines as far as the eye could see, they seemed endless. As he walked down the lines of trees another one would always come into sight right where you'd expect in a straight line. Harry's fascination with the symmetry of the forest never faltered, he continued to enjoy it the whole walk.
A peculiar scene began to slowly come into view for Harry, some large object that was not in line with the trees. The object obstructed the whole view ahead and now he was curious, he wondered if there could be a wall ahead to keep kids out. Harry jogged for a moment until the object became clear, it was a bunch of trees so close together that they appeared to be huddling. Once he had got to the huddled trees he began to look for a way around them, they seemed to stretch as far as he could see to both the right and left.
Harry gave up on the idea of going around and still being able to get home before dark, so he looked for cracks. He found one good cracked spacing between some trees not more than a couple of feet from where he stood. He stuck his eye to the crack, but he had a hard time seeing anything at first while he tried to focus with one eye. Once his eye focused Harry could see only a few much larger trees than the rest, the three trees he saw must have been at least eight feet wide.
Harry placed his eye back upon the crack looking intently at the trees, that's when he saw the golden apples. He was both excited and afraid, since the stories were true he could show his friends, on the other hand that means bad things could happen if he took one. Even though Harry's mom had warned him so many times about the apples and what would happen, he still felt an insatiable desire to taste one. He thought to himself that if he tried just a bite he could taste the wildest and best candy ever, then he would simply run. Trees are immobile and planted in the ground so he could easily outrun one before a branch fell and caught him or whatever ridiculous way a tree would grab you. In the end Harry shook the idea out of his mind and decided he needed to head back home.
Harry's trip home was smooth and easy, which surprised him since the forest was suppose to be so scary. He grabbed his key from his pocket and went to unlock the door, but just as he did the door swung open.
"Harry! I'm so glad you're home dinner is just about ready and I'm sure you can smell the pie" Harry's mom hugged him as she welcomed him home.
"Thanks mom. I'm so excited to eat some pie, but I know I know I have to eat dinner first." Harry told his mom.
While Harry hugged his mom he had noticed he had tracked some big clumps of dirt in. He knew he had better apologize and clean the dirt up quickly.
"Oh sorry mom. I guess I tracked in some dirt, I'll clean it up and then go change for dinner." Harry apologized
"Don't even worry about the dirt sweetie, I tracked it in myself after doing some fresh picking at the neighbors for veggies. I'll clean it up after dinner, you just go get changed." Replied Ms. Dolflitchers.
Harry went to his room to change, but was finding the dirt from his mom a little strange. Typically if anyone went to a neighbor for something then the neighbor would retrieve it for you. Harry quickly brushed the thought away as the smell of the apple pie crawled into his nose ready to carry him to the dining room.
Once in the kitchen Harry could see they were also having his favorite dinner, steak and potatoes. He was always happy when his mom made both his favorites, sometimes she only did it on special occasions, but she had always been known to do it randomly as well. Harry seated himself to await his mom, who was still in the kitchen grabbing something to drink. Out of the kitchen he could see his mom carry a pitcher of lemonade to go with dinner, now he was set all his favorites in one meal.
"Wow thanks so much mom! Everything looks and smells so great!." Harry exclaimed.
"Well I felt a while had gone by since you had your favorites and since you've behaved so well lately I thought I should reward that." Ms. Dolflitchers smiled as she finished her sentence.
Dinner went on as any other dinner would, they talked about school, what everyone is deciding to grow next year and of course how great the food was. The atmosphere was splendid, but Harry was feeling a little guilty knowing he had lied to his mom. He figured since nothing bad happened he didn't need to tell his mom, especially since she obviously already knew what was in the forest. Finally Harry's favorite part of dinner was about to arrive, the dessert.
With a slice of pie on his plate, Harry got a huge bite on his fork at shoved it in his mouth. The pie was different than normal, but in such a great way. The flavor seemed to change on him and even the texture, starting out sweet with cinnamon, then losing the cinnamon and a sudden small amount of sour then slowly turning into a marshmallow feeling. The pie was amazing, cycling through all sorts of flavors and textures that complimented each other one after another. The next thing Harry knew the whole pie was gone, even though he could have sworn it was just there with only the two slices missing.
Harry's mom chuckled. "Well I can see you had really missed apple pie, you scarfed that down faster than ever."
Harry hesitated with his response, surprised at his own actions. "Well you know you make the best apple pie mom and I can't help but eat it all. Thank you again, so much."
As Ms. Dolflitchers started cleaning up she told Harry "Now go get washed up and go to bed and I'll see you in the morning sweetie."
Harry went to the bathroom and proceeded to brush his teeth before bed. Brushing his teeth often bummed him out, especially now since he could no longer taste the apple pie thanks to the toothpaste. He then went to his room and made sure it was tidy before turning out the lights.
As Harry closed his bedroom door he yelled out to his mom, "Goodnight, I love you mom!"
To which his mom yelled back, "I love you too sweetie, goodnight."
Morning came shining in with the sound of Harry's alarm yelling at him to get up and ready for school. He would usually lay in bed for a few minutes to let his eyes adjust, everything always seemed a bit blurry for a few minutes when he first woke up. Once his vision became less blurred, Harry began to rub the sleep from his eyes. He could hear his mom getting ready for work and knew that he would need to be ready soon so he would get a ride to school. Harry was both excited and bummed about the day, on the one hand today was Halloween and that's always fun, but on the other hand the school didn't allow anyone to wear costumes so that was kinda lame.
Not much had happened after Harry got out of bed, he made some cereal and said good morning to his mom. They were both not morning people, so they were mostly quiet and focused on what they needed to do that morning. During the car ride Harry became excited thinking about how he would get to shove the golden apple tree in Kevin's face.
The car pulled up and Harry said his goodbyes to his mom as they both told each other to have a good day. Harry then saw his friends and he immediately ran for them. He got to the outside stairwell, where Kevin and the others kids hung out before school. Harry decided that he couldn't wait and had to come straight out with the information.
"Hey Kevin, I saw the apples. I went to the forest last night and I saw the golden apples hanging from the tree behind a wall of trees. I told you it was real." Harry stated firmly.
"Ok, well then where is one? I told you to bring one and prove it to us." Kevin questioned
Harry knew there was only one way he could get Kevin to go with him to see the apples.
With confidence Harry said "Tell ya what Kevin why don't you just go with me tonight and see for yourself...unless you're too chicken."
The other kids did the rest of the work for Harry as they began to make clucking sounds towards Kevin. At this point Harry knew that Kevin had no choice unless he wanted to look like a chicken in front of everybody.
After a long pause from Kevin he replied. "Fine I'll go with you, just to show you that this is all bologna."
The bell rang and the students all proceeded to part ways once again and went to class. Harry was happy that Kevin agreed, not just to prove Kevin wrong, but Harry was still teasing the idea of trying an apple and didn't want to be alone if he did. Earlier in the week Harry had been concerned about the fact that him and his mom hadn't bought him a Halloween costume yet. Obviously Harry wanted free candy, but he would have to dress up for that, although the apple was sounding more appealing than the candy. Harry came to the conclusion that he could just wear last years grim reaper costume, it was simple, but it works. The school day had finally come to an end and with the holiday, not a single piece of homework was given. With no homework and free candy awaiting his future, Harry was ready to go home and prepare for the night.
Today Harry managed to beat his mom home, maybe he walked faster from excitement or maybe she was running late. All Harry knew was that he had to find his costume and go through his bag to make sure it still had everything he would need. Harry had really hoped work wouldn't run his mom so late today because he wanted to hang out with her for a bit before leaving tonight. After Harry had gone through the backpack several times, bathed and made some food his mom finally arrived.
Harry greeted his mom at the door in his costume saying "Boo!" In an effort to scare her.
Ms. Dolflitchers giggled and said "Oh look at my scary little man, all ready to go scaring for candy.
"I'm gonna go trick 'r' treating with Kevin as usual mom, as long as that's ok?" Harry asked as he nervously awaited the answer to be yes.
"No problem sweetie, just make sure to be headed home by 9:30, you guys still have school tomorrow." Harry's mom responded.
Excited Harry thanked his mom and jumped right past her, but before he got too far his mom grabbed his shoulder and turned him around.
Looking Harry straight in the eyes, his mother said. "Don't you dare forget to not go into that forest, there's nothing there but constant agony."
Harry never recalled his mom looking and sounding so serious, but he knew she was just concerned.
"Of course mom, just free candy for me thank you. I love you, bye." Henry walked away waving
"I love you too sweetie over and over and over again." Ms. Dolflitchers responded.
Harry's mom must've been really worried about him, he had never heard her say I love you back so oddly. Harry headed to the spot Kevin and him always met, the bus stop bench that was halfway between their houses. While Harry waited he realized he didn't know what Kevin was going as this year, he took off his mask so Kevin could recognize him at least. A few minutes of silent thinking went by before someone started to get close to Harry. Once the person had got in the light they removed their mask to reveal they were Kevin, this year he was a ninja turtle.
"Sweet now we will definitely be fine, nobody is gonna fight death and a ninja turtle" Harry joked.
Kevin just looked sad towards Harry for a moment before responding, "I'm not going with you Harry, I really think we should both just listen to what our parents say. Maybe when we are adults we can go find the tree again together."
Harry got so upset that he stormed off towards the forest just yelling back to Kevin, "I always knew you were a chicken, I'll just have all the delicious apples for myself!."
Harry could hear noises of Kevin trying to say something, but he had already jogged so far and put his mask that he couldn't figure out what he was saying. Harry turned on his flashlight and trudged into the forest ready for anything. Knowing that he quite a bit of walk ahead, Harry had even packed extra batteries for the flashlight. After a few moments of walking Harry began to again look upon the trees in fascination as they went by. Harry noticed in the distance ahead something different than before, the trees stopped being aligned much much sooner than before and there was also some sort of faint light.
As Harry got closer and closer the light got brighter and brighter, until suddenly the light was right in front of him. Harry squinted trying to focus on the light and after rubbing his eyes he could see what the light was. The walls of trees now had a huge gap in them, as if a huge chunk of trees disappeared. Through the hole were many bright glowing orbs situated in the branches of the trees. The apples were giving off all the bright light he saw and that just made them look even more delicious.
Harry tried to remember everything his mom told him and how important it was, but looking at those apples was starting to convince him otherwise. Harry was just going to stick to the plan, grab an apple and run, after all, the trees can't move. Harry assumed the hole in the tree wall was there the whole time and he just didn't see it before since he had come into the forest in a different spot.
Harry hesitated grabbing an apple, once again thinking about what his mom had warned him of. Harry was cautious slowly reaching for an apple while watching the trees closely, moving his hand only in the slightest with every move. No movement other than his own was occurring and now he almost had the apple in his grasp. In his hand Harry could feel the apple, the smoothest thing he had ever touched and plucking it gave off the sweetest aroma. Harry started to run and take a bite at the same time, but the only thing that happened next was blackness.
The morning sun came shining on Harry's face as he began to awake and just as always his vision was blurry. Harry felt he had the craziest dream and that maybe it was all a subconscious warning, but he did still want to prove Kevin wrong. His vision hadn't quite adjusted to normal when Harry saw a figure approaching him. Harry figured his mom must be coming in to wake him up since he didn't hear his alarm. Harry could smell his mom too wearing one of her favorite floral scents, she must've had time to get ready for the day already.
"Good morning everybody and hello to you my sweet Harry." Harry's mom said.
Harry was confused why she said that since nobody else lived with them. Harry thought the words good morning, but couldn't manage to get them to come out. He didn't feel he was that tired, but Harry figured he must be if he couldn't actually speak.
Harry watched his moms blurry figure the best he could and noticed she kneeled by his bedside. That action seemed very peculiar to Harry, his mom had never kneeled by his bed before. His vision started to become more clear and Harry noticed his mom was actually ripping up the carpet, he wanted to yell but still couldn't seem to speak.
"Judging by the look of your eyes, which I'm happy I can see those at least, you had the dream again and forgot everything." Ms. Dolflitchers said
" What the heck was she talking about and why did she think she could only see my eyes" Harry wondered.
At this point Harry's vision became clearer than it had ever been before. Looking down at his mom Harry noticed she wasn't ripping carpet, but instead making holes in dirt and planting flowers. Harry then noticed that his mom even looked different, she had a head of gray hair and wrinkles all over. Harry was shocked and confused but the worst realization was just ahead. Harry looked back to his bed and himself, that's when he noticed there was no bed, only rough brown material all over him and what he thought was the bed. Focusing on the brown material Harry noticed that it was tree bark, he was a tree.
"I've always told you I'd love you forever and ever Harry. My heart broke that Halloween years ago when I learned what had happened, and now every year I come here and plant you flowers and any new friends you might have made. I tried to warn you and be a nice mom so that you would listen and not go near that cursed tree in the center of all of you. Now every year you fall asleep as you are now and have some dream that makes you forget for a few minutes. As heartbroken as I was I was happy to know you were not gone forever and thanks to Kevin I knew where you were." Harry's mom hugged him as she spoke.
Harry's mom continued to spend the rest of the day with him and continued to go out to visit him everyday. Every Halloween he had his dream and every Halloween Harry's mom would fill him in on what happened and how life is. Harry found out the Kevin had went to college and started a successful business, his mom hadn't done much but spend time with him, and he found out the town was growing. Harry's mom would explain to him how parts if the dream never happened, such as their last dinner and the apple pie, she guessed he dreamt that because if that apple he had ate from the tree that night. Harry would realize he dreamt of no new Halloween costume because that last Halloween he had was with the last new Halloween costume he ever had. Every so often when he awoke from his dream Harry noticed a new tree within their inner tree circle and every year Harry left himself with the same thought.
"I should've listened to my mom" Harry thought again.
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