The Tainted Tree

May 21, 2012
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It was a chilly windy night, quite unusual for an October night in southern Texas. Sheryl was sure she would freeze just from walking home from the local pharmacy. As she proceeded home along the cracked sidewalk, she was forced to pass the neighborhood tree. It in fact was the creepiest of all neighborhood vegetation. Such a number of eerie and radical rumors surrounded this tree that Sheryl crossed the street entirely as she passed it by. It’s leaves were turning a deep, thick shade of red now that fall had come around, and when the wind would howl,, trickles of red leaves come swirling off the tree’s ghastly branches. Sheryl’s nose immediately picked up the awful scent of decay, a sour, rancid odor. In retaliation, she rushed into her new house, inherited from her late grandfather, and slammed the door. Sheryl stayed up late that night, unpacking the last of her goods into her room. Just then, she heard the perpetual squeak of an old automobile in the street outside. It resembled something of a station wagon. A stout, dark figure emerged from the driver’s side, hauling a ragged sack. The figure circled the tree several times, all the while reaching into the burlap bag and tossing handfuls of the contents of the sack around the tree. “That’s cute,” thought Sheryl. “He takes care of the trees”. Every week, Sheryl would witness the man do his routine tree-feed, but only on the late, homework ridden nights. Sheryl and her family were visiting their grandfather’s grave that Sunday, when Sheryl noticed a hearse pull up and dark, stout man with an empty sack go into the nearby morgue. The man was old and gnarled. “Dad, do you know who that guy is?” Sheryl asked. “He works in the morgue, keeps track of the bodies and stuff,” her dad answered. Sheryl was shocked as the man emerged from the morgue with the sack. Full. Sure enough that night, Sheryl saw the hearse, no longer the perceived innocent station wagon, pull up and the man take part in his usual routine. First thing the next morning, Sheryl ran outside to the horrific tree. The smell of rot was so bad she could barely stand to inhale. She bent down and amongst the squishy, flesh-colored bits she laid her eyes upon a fingernail. Sheryl came to a stomach-churning realization. She immediately staggered away from the tree, the trees whose branches so gnarled extended into the stench filled air as it grew and fed off the gruesome tainted with human remains.

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