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Mr. Murder Tree

A.H. Mittelman

By Alex H Mittelman Published 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 9 min read

A Terrifying Tremulous Trees origin story

Long before I was known as Mr. Murder Tree, I was known as Muata, The Mighty Oak. This was a name given to me by a Miwok named Honon. Even though his name meant bear, I called him The Yellow Jacket catcher, and he called me the same when he gave me my name. Before him, I had no name.

It was a few years before the California Gold rush started, 1842, and the land was still mostly ruled by its native inhabitants, despite claims from Mexico and several attempts to massacre the population.

I was alone by the river, away from my tree brethren, when I heard a rustling through the bushes. I turned around and saw a young man approaching.

I had a yellow jacket nest on one of my branches, and though it wasn’t bothering me, Honon was determined to climb up to the branch and rid me of the yellow jackets, perhaps to prove his bravery and that he was worthy of the name Honon, meaning bear.

“What are you doing?” I asked right before Honon grabbed the nest. This scared him and caused him to fall to the ground and land on his back.

“Whoa, you’re one of those talking trees, aren’t you?” He asked.

“Well, I can talk. And I’m a tree. So, yes,” I said.

“My people tell stories of your kind. I’ve never actually met a talking tree before, though,” Honon said.

“Sure you have. We all talk. My kind can talk to much, sometimes. I find them annoying. That’s why I’m usually hiding alone by the river,” I said.

“Then why haven’t they ever talked to me?” Honon asked.

“Have you ever tried to talk to them?” I asked.

“No,” Honon said.

“Ah, well, maybe that’s the problem,” I said. I attempted to turn my bark into a smile, but to young Honon, I must have looked Eldritch. His jaw dropped and he started crawling backwards.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Y-yo-Your face… it looks like you w-wa-want to e-e-eat me,” Honon stammered.

“I assure you, I don’t. I know from experience, humans taste disgusting. I was simply smiling,” I said.

“That’s how you smile? That’s terrifying. Also, does that make us friends?” Honon asked.

“I suppose it does,” I said.

“I’m Honon. What’s your name?” He asked me.

“I have no name,” I replied.

“How does your kind identify each other?” Honon asked.

“We don’t. We just use our long branches to point at each other and say ‘hey there.’ Then we start chatting,” I replied.

“Can I give you a name? That way if I run into another talking tree, I can tell them I know you,” Honon said.

“You humans and your names. You could just point to me and say ‘I know that tree over there,’” I said.

“With my tiny human arms, how would they know which tree I was pointing too?” Honon asked.

“That’s a fair point. Your human arms are very tiny. So be it. What is my name, young, tiny armed human?” I asked.

“Well, given your yellow jacket nest, I’ll call you Muata,” he said and smiled.

“Muata it is,” I said. At that moment, I decided against smiling in front of my new human friend. That way, he wouldn’t die of fright.

Day after day, Honon returned to my river. He would tell me everything about his day, including other trees he would talk too now that he knew they could talk.

“There’s a tree named Gunther. He said he got his name from an explorer several centuries ago. He also said he saw you eat a man once. Is this true?” Honon asked.

“Yes. How do you think I know humans taste terrible? Also, Gunther talks to much. My human eating habits are nobodies business. And the other trees wonder why I like to be alone,” I said.

“Why did you eat him?” He asked and gulped, his voice lugubrious, tremulous and off pitch.

“It was self defense. And I was a little irritated that day. A human child had been throwing rocks at me. Another human urinated on my bark, and I had to yell at him to scare him off. A human wanderer threw his trash next to me, and I threw it back at him. Instead of picking it up, he threw it back at me again. We ended up getting into a throwing fight and throwing everything we could find on the ground at each other. At the end of the day, some woodsman comes at me with an axe, yelling that he’s going to turn my fibers into soft paper to clean his butt with. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be cut down just so my fibers can clean a humans dirty back end. I knocked the axe out of his hand. He grabbed it off the ground and started swinging wildly, so I ripped off his head. It was self defense,” I said.

“But did you have to eat him after?” I asked.

“I was hungry, and he was already dead. I figured why let the man meat go to waste. If only I knew humans tasted like rot and mold, trust me, I would have let the disgusting human go to waste,” I said.

“So, you’re not going to kill and eat me?” Honon asked. I laughed.

“You’re not planning on cutting me down, are you?” I asked. Honon shook his head no.

“Good, then no. Besides, we’re friends now,” I said.

A hunter had jumped out of the forest and pointed his rifle at us.

“Damn injun, talking to an evil demon tree. I’m going to shoot you bo…” and before he could finish his sentence, I grabbed the yellow jackets nest and threw it right in the hunters face. He dropped his rifle, started swatting the yellow jackets and ran off screaming. I’ve never heard Honon laugh so hard, and it was wonderful.


Years had passed, it was now 1848 and Honon still visited me every day. We grew close, and I had planted several seedlings, who grew fast. Honon even helped me to raise a few of them, and had his wife and children help too. Today Honon seemed tense.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I have some bad news, Muata. There’s a new group of humans trying to take the land from my tribe. There skin is said to be as light as snow. If they succeed, we won’t be able to take care of your seedlings anymore,” Honon said.

“We won’t let that happen, then,” I said.

“But what can we do? Their weapons are unlike anything we’ve seen before. They have giant metal rifles that shoot massive led balls and send them hurtling through the air. I’ve seen them shred both trees and humans to pieces,” Honon said.

“I’ll gather my tree friends. I haven’t spoken to them in years, perhaps it’s time,” I said. I put Honon on my strongest branch, uprooted myself, and with fresh water dripping off my roots, I took Honon to his tribe to gather his people. Then we wandered the forest in search of the other talking trees.

“Thank you fellow friends for coming. And thank you Gunther for agreeing to lead the defensive. The humans and the trees have a problem, a mutual threat. Invaders from a far away land are incroaching on our lands. They’ll be here soon, and they’re bringing weapons that will tear through humans and trees alike. We must work together with Honon and his people to defeat this mutual threat,” I said. There was a few moments of silence when Gunther started shouting.

Who’s with us!” Gunther yelled. There was a thunderous applause from both the trees and the Miwok’s.

“I have an axe stuck in me. It’s left over from the last time the Vikings visited. Honon, if you can get it out, it’s yours,” Gunther said. Honon had gently taken the axe out of Gunther.

“I can throw a tomahawk, and I can throw this rusty old thing,” Honon said.

We were walking back to my seedlings by the river and I saw smoke. We picked up the pace.

There was a fire raging by the river that had wiped out half of my seedlings. There were also some of Honons people we left behind lying dead in the grass. Honon clenched his fists and I clenched my branches.

My children,” I yelled.

My people,” Honon shouted.

The other trees swallowed river water and poured it on the fire and put it out. My children who survived came up to me crying.

“Why did this happen?” One of them asked through tears.

“Invaders. Damn them,” I yelled.

The fire was eventually completely put out. I took a breath.

“Come out from hiding, cowards,” I shouted, my voice echoing through the forest.

A few lumberjacks came out from behind some bushes wielding axes and pistols, then a few more, then some men carrying rifles on horseback.

“That’s it? That’s the lot of you? Where’s the rest of your division? I expected a brigade, a battalion, a small trained squad at least. You’re the savage bunch that started this fire? You’re just a few lazy lumberjacks,” I shouted and let out a hardy laugh.

“Well, The Union army ain’t here yet. We’re the only armed force here that stands between these savages, you demon trees, and progress,” one of the lumberjacks said and spit.

“You call this destruction progress? You’re the savages. You’re all a bunch of cowards and murderers. You killed innocent children, both human and tree alike. You need to leave, now. This is our land,” I shouted.

“Yah, well make us, demon spawn. This ain’t your land no more, we took it from you. You and your savage friends ain’t got a chance in hell against us. We’re superior, after all,” the man on horseback said, then spit a wad of thick black tar on the ground before pointing his rifle at us.

I yelled so loud, rocks started to tumble off the mountains. The man with the rifle looked away to see the rockslide. I took advantage of the distraction and went into a blind rage. The next thing I know, I extended my branches and started grabbing the invaders one by one. I drowned some in the river, launched some in the air, smashed some against the mountain, smashed them against each other until their bodies exploded, and as disgusting as they tasted, ate the rest, except for one.

The last invader shot me. My thick bark deflected his bullet and I slowly turned around. Then my roots extended and I stomped across the ground, bared my sharp thorn like teeth, then leaned in and growled at the now pale human. He dropped his gun and both pooped and wet his pants and started crying.

“Please, please don’t kill me, murder tree. I’m sorry,” he pleaded.

That’s Mr. Murder Tree to you,” I hissed.

“Yes, sir. Yes Mr. Murder Tree. Anything you want, just let me live. I have children,” the man begged.

“I had children too! Children you ruthlessly slaughtered without regret or regard for my feelings,” I growled.

“In hindsight, that was clearly a mistake. I beg your forgiveness. I’ll do anything, I swear!” The man begged.

“If I let you live, tell your friends what happened here today. Tell them all of Mr. Murder Tree. Tell them these woods are haunted and to never ever return,” I shouted.

“Yes, I will do! I’m sorry again,” the man said and limped off.

An hour of silence, tears and comforting each other with hugs had passed before Honon broke the uncomfortable tension.

“Mr. Murder Tree, I like that. It fits you more then Muata, at least after today,” Honon said.

“I agree,” Gunther said and smiled.

“Fine, Mr. Murder Tree it is. I need a rest. I’ll be down by the river if anyone needs me. Honon, are you coming?” I asked.

Honon smiled and climbed on top of me.

“I vow from this day forward to take vengeance on any human invaders that attack us,” I said.

“Sounds good to me,” Honon said.

“Thank you, Muata, for defending us today,” Gunther said and smiled. He was better at smiling then I was.

“I thought it was Mr. Murder Tree,” I said and chuckled.

“Oh that’s right. Sorry, Mr. Murder Tree,” Gunther said.

I turned around, and Honon and I wandered off to the river.

While the invaders took over other parts of California, my woods were safe for many years to come. Honon and I continued to work together to protect our people and our way of life.

A great many years later, a cabin was built by the river, and a boy name Charlie moved in with his parents.

familyYoung AdultShort StoryPsychologicalMysteryLoveHumorHorrorHistoricalFantasyAdventure

About the Creator

Alex H Mittelman

I love writing and just finished my first novel. Writing since I was nine. I’m on the autism spectrum but that doesn’t stop me! If you like my stories, click the heart, leave a comment. Link to book:

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Comments (5)

  • Farhat Naseem4 months ago

    Freaky chilling

  • Omgggg Alex!!! I loved this prequel/backstory of Mr. Murder Tree and how he got his name. "That's Mr. Murder Tree to you" 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 I freaking loved that.

  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    Good to know we taste horrible. I will feel safe walking in the forest now.

  • Mark Gagnon4 months ago

    Now I know why there aren't more cannibals, humans taste terrible. Good story Alex!

  • Very interesting origin story that was not expected!

Alex H Mittelman Written by Alex H Mittelman

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