BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
By Melissa L. Webb
It shouldn’t have been possible. There was no rot. There was no lightning. No earthquake. No wind. The tree simply fell apart for no reason.
I stood there, staring at it in disbelief. How did a perfectly good tree come apart at the seams? The wood inside was a nice healthy color and sap oozed in several different places.
I kicked the fallen piece. It was solid and heavy, my boot barely causing it to move.
Something wasn’t right. This was one of my prized apple trees. I took painstakingly good care of it. There wasn’t a single thing wrong with the tree. It should be in one piece.
I glanced at the base of the tree, where the separation started. Four protrusions of shaped wood stood out of the raw wound. They were no bigger than pencil erasers. I’d never seen wood grow like that before, but nothing about this seemed normal.
I went back inside and got my camera. I needed to chop the tree down, but I wanted pictures first. I needed documented proof of this strangeness.
I rushed back out and started snapping pictures. No one would believe me without proof. As I bent to photograph the protrusions, I nearly dropped my camera in shock.
The bumps weren’t the size of erasers any more. They were now the size of the whole pencil. They attached to a larger bump and included another chunkier pencil shape.
It looked like a hand.
A wooden hand now stuck out of the split wood.
I looked around me. This had to be a joke. I’d been set up. Someone came and split my tree and now they were trying to scare me.
Well, they picked the wrong guy to mess with. Anger flared in my chest as I turned back to the caved hand someone obviously glued to the tree.
My anger died instantly as icy fear took over. Another hand accompanied the first one.
I backed up, wondering if I was going crazy. This wasn’t a joke. There wasn’t time for someone to attach the other hand. What was going on? This was insane. Thing like this didn’t happen.
I turned around again, the hairs on my arms rising instantly. I felt I was no longer alone. Someone was messing with me. I was sure of it. But this time I was beginning to think it wasn’t a human.
I needed to get rid of the tree. That’s all there was to it. Nothing could mess with me if there wasn’t a tree.
I glanced at the tree and almost screamed like a girl. A carved wooden face peered out at me. It remained motionless as I stepped forward.
With each step, I was convinced the thing would blink its eyes and come alive. It didn’t though. It remained frozen, nothing more than a statue, as I moved even closer.
I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I had to stop it.
I turned and sprinted for the barn, dropping the camera along the way. The pictures didn’t matter any more. Only ridding myself of the tree did.
I grabbed my ax and raced back out to the tree. I lifted the ax high above my head and froze. The thing was gone.
The split was the only thing there. The sent of apples filled my nose as I peered closer at the raw wood. It was as if the figure had never been.
I lowered the ax, wondering if I had indeed lost my mind. Too many long, hot hours working in the sun. That’s all it was. I was seeing things.
Nothing peered out at me. Nothing freed itself from inside my prized tree. The world was as normal as it ever was.
I looked at the fallen piece of tree. Maybe the tree was sick after all. No use risking the health of the other trees.
I raised my ax and started to chop. Who knew what might happen if I let it live.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb