Monday, July 03, 2006

Old Man And The Tree

I was riding my bicycle out in the country yesterday and this story fell into my head.
There was an old couple lived out middle of nowhere, 15 miles to the nearest town. Jeb and Adna had a small wooden house that had been there over a hundred years, or so the local town folk said. Was a large old tree, stood not 10 feet in front of the house. The old man hated it. That tree was always attracting all sorts of strange critters and it had a strange odor that stunk to high heaven. Then there was the strange fruit that damned tree always dropping in the lawn. Couldn't eat the stuff on account of it tasting so bad. All it did was litter up the yard and attract more damn animals. And then Barney, the old man's dog, was always yelping and barking at it, day and night! Yes that old man hated that tree, hated it almost as much as if it were a real person. Some nights he could almost make out a smirking face in the bark, sort of laughing at him. Only reason he hadn't torn that cursed stick outta the ground was because of the wife. Adna wanted no part in the destruction of that tree. She enjoyed the shade it provided and said it had been there long before they were born and they'd no right to remove it.

So old Jeb let it be, but he knew the real reason his wife was so determined to keep that damn tree around. His wife was of the superstitious type and there'd been tales about the house they lived in from way back. Supposedly there'd been a couple witches that lived there who planted that tree with the blood of their victims. Folks claimed that story had been made up to explain the unusual shape of the tree. It sort of resembled a twisted figure with its arms bent back, a head that had a long crooked wooden nose and a head full of branch like horns. But Jeb knew better. He laughed at the notion and promised that the day Edna died, should she pass before him, he'd tear that damn thing down somethin proper.

Well come the next spring Edna died. She passed on account of a heart attack right there on the porch swing while Jeb was out building a fence. Soon as Jeb found her his first thoughts were of that wretched tree. He glanced over at it and could have sworn it was looking at him with something evil inside. After callin the funeral folks Jeb went out on the front lawn. Ol Barney was barking at the tree as always. Jeb knelt down and patted Barney on the head and said, "Don't you worry none Barney, that damn stick's days are numbered now."

After the funeral Jeb went home and sharpened his cutting axe. He sharpened it extra good since it was such a special occasion. Afterwards he took his axe and a bottle of moon juice then sat down on the porch swing with his dog. It was evening out and Jeb knew he'd have to get started soon if he didn't want to be out there till midnight. He drank into that moon juice somethin fierce, thinking it was because of Edna being gone. But deep down he knew it was to give him the courage to do what needed to be done for so many years. He got up and took that axe to town. After the first swing into that tree Jeb thought he'd heard a noise, sorta like a deep gasping sound. Barney was barking and ah hollerin more fierce than usual. But after the next few wacks he couldn't hear anything other then his own grunts and gasps as he cut into that tree with all his goddamn might. Old Jeb went through the trunk of that cursed thing and before long that sum bitch was crashed out on the lawn with a loud thud. Jeb wacked the axe into the stump of the tree and went on to bed.

The next morning Jeb got up and decided to finish the job. He went outside to cut the tree down to firewood. Instead of finding hix axe in the stump of the tree where he'd left it, the tool was lying on the porch, sticking out of the skull of his dog. Barney was splayed out across the porch with his organs spread all over the place. It looked like somethin had been playing with them! Jeb screamed and cussed and cried. He didn't know what to think but he just blamed it on some bastard kids from town.

After burying Barney, Jeb cleaned the axe and carried on with cutting that tree down to size. By the time it had started getting dark he'd cut that tree into a nice stack of wood that he planned on burning nice and long in his fireplace. He carried the first chunk of wood into the house. It smelled somethin terrible but Jeb didn't much care. He dropped it in the fireplace and lit the cursed wood on fire then went on to the porch to finish off that bottle of moon juice. Jeb sat in something soft and looked down to find one of Barney's eyeballs smooshed out. Jeb cursed out loud and tossed the eye into the lawn. All he could think about was the job well done cleaning that damned tree from the face of the earth.

After a few hours Jeb went back into the house to go to sleep. He looked in the fireplace and was surprised to see the wood had already burned away. Jeb thought it was curious there wasn't even a burned out husk from the chunk of wood but he was so drunk he didn't give it much thought. He stumbled into his bedroom and layed down to sleep. Before he could close his eyes in the dark bedroom he caught a glimpse of something moving in the room. As drunk as he was he figured it was his head spinning. Then he heard the sound of something scraping across the floor. More then something it was some... things! He heard the sound of things stepping around all over the room and under the bed. First thing Jeb thought was there was some damned family of rodents thought they could move into the house. Jeb got up and turned on the light expecting to see some dirty animals scurrying about. Instead Jeb looked down to see every single piece of wood he'd cut that tree down to, except each piece resembled a short fat goblin like creature with short arms and legs, horns, long pointed noses and dark black holes for eyes. They were all looking up at Jeb, sort of like they were waiting to see what he'd do.

Jeb gasped in horror and ran into the hallway to grab his shot gun, he tripped running down the hall. Poor Jeb sprung his ankle and couldn't get up. Then those wooden goblins took hold of him and pulled him into the living room with little effort. Jeb was turned over onto his back like a pig in the slaughterhouse. The goblins were all around him whispering and laughing, a dry sort of laughter that you'd hear the wind making through the woods during fall. Jeb lifted his head up just in time to see a blackened burned chunk of wooden goblin, the piece he'd tossed into the fire. It was dragging his axe across the floor.

Then old Jeb felt it, the piercing burning pain as the axe cut off his feet. He hollered and squeeled in gut wrenching agony! The other wooden goblins held him down as the burned one went on cutting him apart, first the feet, then the shins, and the knees, on up to the thighs and crotch. It then went about cutting off his fingers, his hands, his arms up to the elblows. Jeb was butchered into a torso and head before he was decapitated and every piece of him was thrown into the fire.

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