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The Terrifying Tremulous Trees

A.H. Mittelman

By Alex H Mittelman Published 4 months ago 10 min read
Photo by Alex H Mittelman

I’m Gunther Twigly, and I’m a two thousand year old California Redwood tree.

My patch of forest was special, different from other forests. There was a meteor crash here thousands of years before even I existed. The meteors minerals were unlike anything from Earth. My seedling landed near the meteor crash site, and when I started growing, my roots and the roots from the other surrounding trees absorbed the minerals which allowed us to become sentient. There’s a total of three acres of land where myself and the other sentient trees grow. Every hundred years or so, a new meteor crashes in the same spot, providing us with fresh minerals for our seedlings. We wait until then to plant our seeds and now there are thousands of sentient trees wandering through California, exploring while trying to remain hidden. If ever you think you see a tree moving or you hear a couple of trees whispering to each other in the middle of the night, it might be one of us. Most of us are harmless explorers, though, so unless you run into the one we call Mr. Murder Tree who swore an oath of vengeance on all humans for their continued atrocities against trees, there’s no need to worry. And if you do run into Mr. Murder Tree, you won’t know until it’s to late. So again, no need to worry.

Also, yes, I know Twigly is a cliche name for a tree, but I was given that name by a five year old human boy who moved into the cabin behind me with his family and quickly became my friend. His father, not realizing I was sentient and also seconds away from defending myself by flicking him miles away with one of my gigantic branches, was about to swing his axe through the air in his lame attempt to cut me down for firewood. Seconds before I was about to send the tiny human man flying across the forest, Charlie came running out and ‘saved’ me. He shouted that I was cool, the coolest tree he had ever seen, and told his father to build a treehouse on me instead. Yes, Charlie, it’s not creepy at all to cover me in wood made from my dead relatives to build yourself a fun little play house. But try telling this to a five year old human.

But at least I’m alive.

I would have gladly crushed the father with my branches and absorbed his body for nutrients, but now I don’t have to, thanks to Charlie.

After the treehouse was finished, Charlie was sitting inside and playing. What a nice treehouse it was too. The father ran copper pipes up my side and installed a sink and shower so the boy could spend the night alone when he wanted.

“It’ll teach Charlie to be a man,” I heard the father shout at the mother when she asked about the child being alone. She briefly argued, then rolled her eyes and walked away.

“Thank you for saving me,” I finally said to Charlie. He looked at me and I could see fear on his face. While I’ve eaten a few lumberjacks over the years who’ve attempted to cut me down, I’ve never talked to a human before.

“Don’t be scared, Charlie. That’s your name, right? I owe you for saving me from your fathers axe. I’m your friend,” I said.

“You can talk?” Charlie asked.

“Yes, we all can. Well, all the trees surrounding your cabin can talk. We’re special,” I said.

“What makes you so special,” Charlie asked.

“A rock from space. It landed here thousands of years ago. We absorbed the rock, now we talk,” I said.

“That’s cool. I’ll call you Twigly,” Charlie said.

“My name is Gunther,” I said.

“Twigly is better. You look like a Twigly,” Charlie said and giggled.

“If I didn’t owe you, I’d make you call me Gunther,” I said. When he looked nervous, I told him I was joking. I wasn’t, but I also didn’t feel like arguing.

“How old are you, Twigly? I’m five,” Charlie asked.

“Well, I don’t know my exact age, but I estimate I’m over two thousand years old,” I said

Charlie whistled.

“Wow, that’s old. That’s older then my mom and dad put together. And they were alive when the dinosaurs were here,” Charlie said. I laughed at his hyperbole.

“Hey, Charlie, is someone up there with you? I’m coming up,” Charlie’s father said. Time to scare the father.

“No, I’m talking to Charlie from outside the treehouse,” I said and moved my bark around to look like a smiling human face. Then I waved my branch through the air and said, “hello, tiny human man.”

“What… the…” Charlie’s father said, put his hand on his head and passed out.

“Are you ok, Fred,” Charlie’s mother said and came running out.

She leaned over Fred and put her hand on his head.

“Don’t worry, ma’am, he’ll be fine,” I said. She looked up and upon seeing the same bark covered smile I gave her husband, fainted as well.

“Charlie, your parents are even bigger scaredy pants then you,” I said.

“It’s because they’re old. Old people get scared more easily,” Charlie said.

“With my species, it’s the opposite. Wisdom and bravery come with age,” I said.

“You’re lucky, Twigly. I hope I’m brave like you when I grow up. I don’t want to faint like them,” Charlie said and pointed to his parents.

“Maybe you should go down and comfort them when they wake up,” I said. Charlie did, after several minutes of waiting.

“Mom, dad. Don’t pass out again, please. This is my new friend, Twigly,” Charlie said and pointed to me.

“So, we weren’t dreaming?” Charlie’s dad asked in a groggy voice.

“No. I can talk. But I’m friendly, I promise. It seems we both owe Charlie our lives,” I said.

“Both?” Charlie’s parents said at the same time and gulped.

“Let me show you,” I said.

“No, please don’t…” Charlie’s dad started to say as I wrapped my branches around his parents and placed them in the treehouse.

“We could easily destroy each other, you with your axe, me with my branches. But we’re all friends now, right?” I asked. There was a long pause, complete silence.

“Right?” I asked again.

“Yes, yes of course,” Charlie’s dad said, his mother smiled and nodded.

“That’s good,” I said and smiled.

“How… how can you talk?” Charlie’s father asked.

“Meteor landed here some years back. We absorbed the nutrients. We’re sentient now…”

“We’re? There’s more,” father asked.

“Every tree for the next three acres is sentient, and that doesn’t include the ones that wandered off. Introduce yourself, friends,” I said and raised my branches.

All the other trees straightened themselves out and turned their bark into smiles.

“Honey, I’m scared,” Charlie’s mother said.

“We can move again,” father said.

“Not if we scare off all your buyers because we want you to stay. And you don’t need to move. We’re friends now,” I said. The other trees quietly repeated the word friend.

“Ok, we might stay. But how do we know we can trust you,” Charlie’s father said.

“If we wanted you dead, we would have crushed you by now,” I said and smiled.

“That’s a fair point. But what if we need firewood, or some other wood based product? Would you hurt us then?” The father asked.

“No. Not unless you chop one of us down to get it. What if we need bones, or a human based product, would you hurt one of us?” I asked.

“I guess not. Not unless it comes from one of my family members,” he said.

“Then we have a deal. We don’t hurt you, you don’t hurt us,” I said. Charlie’s dad smiled.

“Are you sure being friends with the scary trees is a good idea, dear?” Charlies mother asked.

“What choice do we have? It’s either this or attempt to move. And that’s if the trees let us move. And if we did that, these trees seem like the type to follow,” the father said.

“Oh, we’d definitely follow,” I said and smiled. The other trees all started laughing.

“Oh, dear god. Their laughter is haunting,” The father said.

“Stay and play,” I said.

“Stay and play. Stay and play,” all the forest trees started chanting while pounding the ground rhythmically with there uprooted roots.

“Ok fine. We’ll stay,” Charlie’s father reluctantly agreed.


Months went by. Charlie and I grew close. Even when we didn’t talk, he was still in the treehouse. He was doing homework or reading or texting a friend from school. I even chatted with his parents on occasion. They’d always ask the same question.

“Are you taking care of our Charlie?” They’d ask.

“Yes sir, yes ma’am,” I’d always reply. They’d water me and call me a good boy. I’d roll my eyes but let it pass because I enjoyed the extra water.

Late on a tenebrous Tuesday, someone with a large shiny white truck that read ‘Chopping Tims Timely Timber Cutters and Logging Company, Inc,” in black stickers on the side pulled up to the cabin. A tiny human logger got out and knocked on the cabin door.

Charlie’s father opened up.

“Can I help you, sir,” the father said.

The man started waving a piece of paper in front of Charlie’s father.

“Yes. I have a court order right here. It says we have the right to clear the forest of trees. We need them for our logging company. We’ll gladly compensate you for your…”

“This is private property, sir. Our trees aren’t for sale, sorry. I’m going to kindly ask you to leave,” Charlie’s father said.

“I don’t think so. If you won’t sell us your tree, our court order says we can take it by force. We don’t have to pay you, we only offered to as a courtesy,” the man said.

“Feel free to try. Hey Twigly, this man says he wants to cut you down. He says he has a ‘court order,’” Charlie’s dad shouted at me and smiled.

I uprooted myself, used my bark to make the scariest face I could make, sauntered over to the logger, used my branches to pick him up, and in my deepest, scariest voice I made his whole body vibrate when I said, “hello, little logger. I hear you would like to cut me down.” Then I tightened my grip.

“Holy crap. It’s alive. What the hell? No. Not today. Please, Mr. Twigly, sir. I have a family,” the logger said.

“I’ll let you go. Don’t come back. And I hope that’s water on your pants,” I said to the logger.

I put the little logger down and he ran off, yelling.

“He’ll probably be back with his friends,” Charlie’s father said.

“Oh, I know he will. After two thousand years, I’m well aware of human nature. Humans are the only species to cut down a tree, turn it into paper, then write on the paper ‘save the trees.’ It’s a good thing I have friends, too,” I said.

“Do you mean us, or the other trees?” Charlie asked.

“Both, of course. You know you’re my best friends Charlie,” I said and smiled. This made Charlie blush, then laugh. Charlie’s parents seemed happy too.

“I’m glad we’re all friends. You guys are the first humans I’ve liked in my two thousand year existence,” I said.

“We love you too, Twigly,” Charlie said and smiled and his body twitched in excitement.

“It’s true, you’re family now,” Charlie’s father said and smirked. It was my turn to blush, my bark turned a darker shade of brown.

The next morning the logger came back with about a hundred other loggers.

He knocked on the door and shouted “you better come out, or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll bulldoze your house down,” the little logger said.

“That’s right. I didn’t just bring the court order this time. I brought my whole team. Your pet tree can’t attack all of us,” he shouted.

His crew looked at him like he was crazy, but they had to follow his orders.

“You’re not the only one with friends,” I said and smiled.

Some of his crew stepped back.

“Oh my god. It’s true!” I heard some of them mutter.

“My fellow forest Redwoods, my army of sycamore defenders, my legion of Locusts, come defend your home!” I bellowed.

The ground vibrated as my friends dragged their roots across the forest floor. They arrived, all making their scariest bark faces at the lumberjacks.

“It seems we outnumber you. We have ten thousand trees for every human you have. Come on, tiny lumberjacks thrust your axes at us, we dare you. You’ll be mulch in minutes,” I said and the forest echoed with the thunderous laughter of thousands of trees.

All of the lumberjacks dropped their axes and ran off except the one who was here the day before.

“I don’t care if I cut down the other trees. I just want to cut you down,” the logger said, lifted his axe in the air and charged.

Before I could knock him over with my branch, another tree grabbed him. He picked the logger up, ripped off his arms, swallowed the arms whole, then licked the loggers body off the floor with his long spiky neon green colored tongue.

“Thanks, Mr. Murder Tree. I didn’t know you were back in town,” I said.

“I heard you were having human problems. Do you want me to take care of them, too?” Mr. Murder Tree asked.

“NO! No, definitely not. These are my friends,” I said.

“Alright then. Nice to meet you, Gunther’s friends.”

“It’s Twigly now,” I said.

“It’s very nice to meet you too, Mr. Murder Tree,” Charlie said.

“Yes, a real pleasure,” Charlie’s father said and laughed uncomfortably.

“Well, I’m off. I’ll be at the river of tears if anyone needs me,” Mr. Murder tree said.

“Bye,” I said and waved.

“Hey Twigly, your friends are awesome,” Charlie said. I smiled.

“Did I ever give you a tour of the forest?” I asked Charlie.

“No,” Charlie said.

“Would you like me to put you on my top and give you one?” I asked Charlie.

“Boy, would I ever,” Charlie said.

I placed Charlie on top of my head and walked him around the forest.

“I’m king of the forest,” Charlie shouted and pounded his chest.

“You sure are, Charlie!” I said and smiled.

Copyright © 3/7/2024 by Alex H. Mittelman. All rights reserved

Short StoryPsychologicalMysteryLoveHumorFantasyfamilyFableAdventure

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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Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (8)

  • Novel Allen4 months ago

    I am assuming the story is true due to the cover pic. Nicely done all the humans.

  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    The names in this one are cracking me up 😅

  • D.K. Shepard4 months ago

    So imaginative! Loved the tree house building scene, when Charlie said older people get scared more easily, and flyers for save the trees dig!

  • ema4 months ago

    Sweet little Charlie, kids can see ahead, well done! Great story !

  • Very interesting tale that you've spun here Alex!

  • Hahahahhahahahahahaha he got ripped apart and eaten by Mr Murder Tree! That was my favourite part! Loved your story!

  • Andrea Corwin 4 months ago

    I love this story and you and I previously discussed that we don’t like trees being cut down. All the conversations in the story were so cool - you covered a lot of territory with them. I’m glad Mr. Murder tree took care of the logger. Nice job, Alex.

Alex H Mittelman Written by Alex H Mittelman

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