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The Tree

By ginger_lizard All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Horror

The Tree

The tree was the centerpiece of the graveyard, and several generations of groundskeepers had learned to give it a wide berth. Its branches writhed and curled, extending like shadowy hands over the dry grass. Insects did not crawl on it. Birds did not nest in it. And because it was an ominous, dead thing that bore no leaves, no one dared get close enough to find out what kind of tree it was. It was something to be avoided.

The writer had decided to stay the night in the tiny town, on his way to a job offer in New York from the westernmost parts of Ohio. The town’s only motel just happened to be right next to the graveyard, and after dropping off his things, he decided to take a walk.  

As he strolled between the tombstones, the tree constantly loomed in the corner of his vision. It beckoned, and he responded. Something about the century-old carvings in the trunk, the initials and hearts with arrows and messages corroded by time made him want to know more about the hands that had put them there. He chided himself for leaving his journal in his room; his memory was awful, and there were stories immortalized in this tree waiting to be transcribed. 

A glint of light at the base of the trunk caught his attention. A plain knife with a stag horn handle jutted up from the parched ground. He knelt and picked it up, relishing the foreign coldness of it in his hand. His eyes flitted back to the initials in the tree. No one is around, the devil on his shoulder whispered. 

The writer stepped forward, resting one leg on an exposed root, and jammed the tip of the knife into the bark. After a few calculated strokes, “JM” had joined the series of initials, the fresh etchings standing out amidst their faded counterparts. Satisfied, the writer tossed the knife back on the ground. The sun had set, and he was chilly. He walked back to the motel, not noticing the thick, black sap that had begun to ooze from his marks. 

Back in his room, the writer pulled a leather-bound journal from his suitcase and wrote down as many initials as he could recall. He created names for each of them. For some, he even wrote their histories, their desires, and their fears. When he felt his eyelids drooping, he called his wife and told her he’d reach the city tomorrow, that he loved her and would see her at the end of the week. After he hung up, he donned a T-shirt and shorts and went to bed. 

His skeleton was found the next morning by the maid. Her scream had brought the other guests out of their rooms in bathrobes and pajamas. He’d fallen asleep in the fetal position, and his bones would forever resemble an overgrown child’s. 

The graveyard groundskeeper had been clearing weeds around a mausoleum when he heard the scream. He straightened, old joints creaking, and looked in the direction of the motel. 

“Stupid bastard,” he muttered, and carried an armful of dandelions to his wheelbarrow. 

Behind him, on the topmost branch of the twisted tree, a single green leaf fluttered in the wind. 


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spooky jedi: Love your story!I really hope more people read this story!Its amazing!! The plot is very unique and different, which is very good to have in a world full of stories. You have very complex and intellectual plot line, with your many loveable character and that hint of 'will they, won't they' is ju...

JWalker: I loved this story from start to finish! It flows at a really nice pace and the story world feels so real. The fight sequences are a treat especially when Isanfyre is training to become a warrior. I found the names really cool and thankfully easy to pronounce. Personally I have always struggled w...

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

harry142018: This story was gripping and very professionally written. With lots of twists and slight of hand tricks, the author deceives the reader until finally showing their cards at the end. With several subplots all intertwining to create the main plot, this really is an interesting and engaging read.

Oru Manna: Within this tale is a cast of characters with intensely unique voices and personas; each one radiating their own desires so clearly, you would think they were all written by different people. Their behaviors, their speech patterns, even their thoughts are so independent of one another, it really ...

SPepper: I had a hard time putting this book down even to go to sleep. The story is compelling and beautifully character driven. I hope author will make this a series.

Sara Grover: Being that this is your first story and I assume first draft, a lot of little mistakes are common, we all have made them; little things like your instead of you're, missed capitalization, missing punctuation, etc. As for the plot, I have a lot of questions and I did leave comments on certain sect...

Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren

Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.

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