I wrote the following in two separate mini writing sessions in the summer of 2002. I thought I’d post it here and maybe inspire myself to dig a little deeper into Gary’s story. What do you think?
The tree was a huge, clawing thing. Its inky, leafless branches snaked out Medusa-like from a trunk more than twenty feet across. After Gary got over its sheer size, it was obvious that that was not all that made the tree unique. The surface was a shiny black, or was it silver? As he moved around it seemed to change with the light. It reminded him of hematite. Gary wondered if maybe it was formed of stone. It surely wasn’t alive, was it?
He approached it from the road side, since coming at it from the opposite side would involve climbing a good hundred feet or so of sheer rocky cliff. The cobbled road led right up to the base of the tree and stopped there, wrapping slightly around tits base at the edges, the stones buckled where it met the tree, as if it had sprung up just moments before in the center of the path. Of course, the road ending at the bottom of a steep drop would seem almost as strange he supposed.
There was writing on the trunk. Or no, it was gone again. A trick of the light? The surface was extremely reflective. In fact Gary could see a dark image of himself as he moved around it. Carefully he reached out a hand to touch what he supposed should be the tree’s bark, expecting the shiny darkness to feel cold to the touch, but it was not. He jerked back as he felt the almost pulsing warmth beneath his fingers.
Eyes wide he reached out again and this time, as his fingers trailed across the smoothness, golden writing appeared under his touch, only to fade as his fingers moved on. At least he assumed it was writing, although he’d never seen anything like it before.
He rested his palm flat against the tree and the golden words flowed outwards from his hand. This time they did not disappear, but wrapped themselves around the tree and up into the branches until the tree shimmered with them. Gary, staring up into the tree, forgot about his hand against it and let it drop to his side. As soon as he did, the writing completely vanished, leaving Gary blinking up into the black branches.
Gary looked from his hand to the tree and back again several times before his brain began to process what had just happened… what he’d just discovered. Once his synapses started sparking, it was all he could do to just stand there and stare as the entire plan began to click into place in his mind. It was all making sense. He could hardly believe that this.. thing.. was what he had been searching for the entire time, and to stumble across it like this, well it was beyond believing.
Once his mind slowed to a reasonable pace and Gary could focus, he again lifted a palm and placed it flat against the side of the tree. Again he watched in awe as the golden symbols spread from his fingertips to cover the warm, dark surface. They wrapped around the trunk and snaked up into the branches until even the tiniest twig of a limb was shimmering gold and black. Then, all at once, it seemed as though the end of each and every branch burst into its own small flame. It looked to Gary as if, having nowhere else to go, the writing simply exploded from the ends of each branch, creating fiery leaves that flickered silver-gold.
This time when he lifted his palm from the side of the glowing tree, the words did not fade, but continued to writhe serpent-like across the inky surface. The tree had virtually transformed in minutes from a dead looking thing into something that literally sparked with life from every branch. Still amazed and staring up into the flickering “leaves”, Gary didn’t hear the man approaching until he spoke from directly behind him.