The Devil's Tree
The sky began to change as an approaching storm made it's ways over the miles of dead grass. The clouds grew thick, as a roar of thunder rang throughout the sky. The sun was blocked by a dark drearyness that looked to be there quite awhile. Upon this feild lay a long, gravel road. There were so few instances Luis Hartman would hear the crunching sound of gravel below tires making there way down that road to nowhere, but on this particular day, he glanced out the window of his family owned general store to see a 1972 Mustang
ripping through the humid air and come to a stop out front the establishment.
"We got customers!"yelled the plump little fifty year old man walking back behind the counter.
"You really don't need to yell." responded his wife turning the mini TV's volume down to a minimum.
"I'm sorry if I bothered you." he said in a playful tone.
The front door of the store opened and in walked a tall, fidgety man with short brown hair and a Chicago Cubs shirt. He was unshaved and looked as if he hadn't showered in days. "Well hi there stranger!" a peachy Mrs. Hartman said as the man walked to the back where the drinks were. He turned in an awkward way and gave a hand motion in response. He picked up a twix bar as he walked to the counter.
"So whats a young man like yourself doin' down in these parts?" asked Mr. Hartman, who was punching the prices of the items into a small calculator.
The nervous looking man looked up,"I'm uh- I'm goin' down to 11982, Brancaster Road."
Mrs. Hartman jumped into the conversation, "Oh, you can see it from right out front the store! Hm.. no one's lived there for..." she looked over to her husband to finish.
Luis looked to the ceiling for a second before saying,"Thirty years? Yeah, I think that's about right. What're you doin' down there?"
"My name is Daryll Cole. I um- I'm renting the house for the summer, you know, catch up on my college studies." he said, clearly not wanting to have a conversation.
"That's nice, it's a beautiful house," he said with a smile,"Over 150 years you know." Luis continued, getting Daryll's change from the register. Daryll gave a distant nod before taking his change.
"Demon!" came a growling voice from the backroom. Daryll looked over at a woman, who had to be in her nineties, rolling into the room in a wheelchair. She wore a pink bathrobe and slippers and had virtually no hair on her head. "I know what you are!" she yelled pointing at him, "You're the devil, you are! You stay away from my family you demon! Kill it! Kill it now!" she angerly continued before Mrs. Hartman walked over and pushed her back into the backroom. "Mom," she said,"You also said that about the cableman."
"I think I should go." said Daryll waving as he walked out the building.
"You just come by if you need anything!" said Mr. Hartman. The car took off down the road.
* * *
Daryll Cole drove up the road about two hundred yards to a house that sat upon a hill, looking over the feild and general store. "College studies? Nice one Cole," he thought,"just keep up the lies. Couldn't just tell 'em you're insane? Nope, every store you stop at, even if they don't ask, you gotta tell 'em you're goin' up here for "studies". The kids in high school were right, you are a nervous little loser."
He pulled into the gravel driveway of a fairly modern one story house. The shutters were painted a dark red, much different from the overall yellow paint job. Daryll stood, eating his candy bar and staring at the house. "Alright, go to a secluded area, guess you did well." he thought, just as the rain began to drizzle above his head. He quickly got his bag from the car and ran inside, right before the rain came down hard.
He closed the door behind him and dropped his bag, which echoed throughout the empty house. He stood at the front of the doorway just as he had in front of the house. He reached for the light switch, blinding himself as it lit up the room. He walked around, admiring the kitchen, bedroom, and dining room. "Absolutly small, even smaller when the u-haul gets here." he thought as he walked into cozy, little master bedroom.
That night, with nothing else to do, he lay out a sleeping bag and decided to call it a night. He lay there on the hard wood floor, watching as the rain came to a hault. Usually, the rain against the window put him in a calm sleep, but not tonight, and he clearly missed his chance.
He turned away from the window to try and finally go to sleep, just as a hoarse, distant voice rang throughout the empty halls,"Daryll." He sat up and listened. "Daryll, come on outside." the voice said slowly. The voice sounded of ten different octaves combined, an unhuman voice. "Ok, you reached breaking point Daryll,"he thought,"Now go to sleep!". He sat there before calming down and laying his head back on the sleeping bag pillow. "Daryll, come on.", it said again. His head shot up, "Ok, that was real. I know it." he thought, standing up. He crept into the hall and waited.
"I'm outside, Daryll." it said, sounding as though it was standing three feet in front of him. He walked over to the front door and clutched the doorknob. He stopped and thought,"You're going outside without a weapon? Fine.. Go! Go get raped or something!" He ignored his thoughts, not knowing why, and slowly turned the knob, stepping out into the wet grass. "Daryll, out back.", said the voice. He walked as slow as possible until he reached the backyard, but all he could see was the giant oak tree. "Where?", he finally said aloud, "Behind the tree?"
"Closer.", it responded. He walked towards the tree's direction and asked once more in a clearly nervous tone,"Are you behind the tree?". "No Daryll," it said as Daryll stood three feet from the oak," I am the tree." He slowly walked until he reached the side of it, then quickly jumped to the back. No one. No one was there. "Touch me, Daryll." said the cold voice. "You're dreaming," he thought slowly backing up to the house, "This is a bad dream." "It's not a bad dream, Daryll, touch my side." it said just as everything else it said.
Daryll inched forward, placing his trembling hand on the tree.
"Oh my God, it's warm.", he thought,"What is- are those...veins? Ok Daryll, go inside or wake up or something, because whatever this is,it's bad."
"Now peel away a piece of my bark.", continued the ten octave voice.
Daryll looked up at the tree for a second before digging his fingers into a chunk and pulling it awway. Blood began to trickle from the tree, then the bark grew over the "wound" of the oak. Daryll began to back up. "What are you? What do you want?'', he asked now trembling worse than he ever had in his
"I am a particular species, Daryll. I am as all knowing as your God. I was grown by Satan, thousands and thousands of years ago, along with dozens of others. I've survived wars, fire, and the head of an axe many a men who have found me a repulsive monster, but they can't put me to the ground. I was put on Earth for one purpose. To take the weak ones. You, Daryll, are weak. You need me."
Daryll was close to tears of fear as it continued.
"Why are you here, Daryll? You are here because your alone and miserable. Your afraid of every person you meet in this world, Daryll. Why is that?"
Daryll fell backwards.
"It's because as a child, you watched your family get butchered like pigs by a random intruder, and you just watched, too scared to do anything."
Daryll went completely cold. Tears began to run down his face.
"You didn't come up here for studies like you've been telling everyone. You didn't even come up here for a view. You came here because you are weak, Daryll. I know what to do with you, just like the others, just come with me. I'll take you home." said the leave less tree as a rope began to slither down the rope."
Daryll looked up from his knees in comeplete tears.
"You know what to do Daryll.", it said.
* * *
Morning came, and Luis Hartman drove alone to open up the General Store. The sun began to rise about ten minutes before, which is when he opened the store, exactly the same time for the past 20 years. He got out of the car after his twenty minute drive and stretched his old muscles.The storm the night before had left the feilds moist and humid, which was always the best feeling to him.
The plump man felt good that morning, until he looked up the hill. He began to back into the car,"Oh sweet Jesus! Not again!", he said, looking up at the rising sun over the hill, forming black sillouettes of the house, the tree, and the figure that hung from it, swinging back and forth in the morning breeze.