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The Trees Swallow People: Part 13

A horror about trees

By Conor MatthewsPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
The Trees Swallow People: Part 13
Photo by Peng Chen on Unsplash

I don't know if I believe in anything after death. I think there's something, like a god or something, but not in the “God” sense. I can imagine people going to Heaven, but never myself. I don't think I don't deserve it, I just can't see myself in Heaven, no more than I can see myself in space; I can visualise it, but I'm left wondering where the punch-line is . Thanatophobia; that's what I have. I'm not going to Hell and that scares me. I know it must seem strange; there are trees driving people mad, killing them, driving them to suicide, yet I can't bring myself to believe in an afterlife? Yes. Faith, even in nothing, isn't rational.

The reason why I find myself introspective on the matter is because of a visit I received from a new face in the village. There was a knock at the door. I have no idea why everyone knocks. I do have a doorbell! Diva immediately goes off and I start swearing at her to shut it. I was half expecting to find Shepard but instead I was surprised by a woman, a little younger than myself, standing there, in a nice business suit, holding the handles of a black satchel.

Hello! I'm looking for a Mr...

She goes to check a note she pulls out of her pocket. I interrupt her, saying I'm who she's looking for. I had no way of knowing that for certain, but no one was going to just happen to knock on my door accidentally. The woman tucked the card back into her pocket and presented her hand for a handshake.

Good morning, I'm Natasha Grosset. I'm a communication officer with Intellex Processing. I was wondering could I speak to you about your experiences involving the trees in St. Catherine’s Park?

Intellex Processing is a multinational computer processing manufacturer that has a sprawling campus in Leixlip. It's been rumoured for years they've been the cause of suspicious trends in the village since their arrival; growing cancer diagnosis', water contamination, employee disappearances, strange lights and smoke seen over their buildings. I don't buy into much of that. Seems like it's veering into conspiracy theory territory, but I don't trust anything without a face. There is no such thing as a good corporation. Be that as it may, I agreed and welcomed Ms. Grosset in. Diva sniffed Natasha's heels and, placated, wandered into the kitchen and slept on one of the chairs.

I made us coffee (Natasha requested) and we began.

I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to start with a few statements. We're conducting an internal investigation and we'd appreciate anything you can tell us.

I didn't say it, but I knew this was a half-lie. How is it internal if you have to look outside your own company? No, I'd say this was to see was there anything anyone had seen that connected them to the trees. I didn't think they had anything to do with them, but if I was them, with all that money and reach, I'd want to make sure as well.

I began to tell her everything. The trees, the first person I witnessed going into them, the people coming, the tree out the back (which had no completely covered the windows so much you can't even see the back, let alone get out to it), Mary, Shepard, the cult. None of it phased her. She just continued to write it on a notepad from her satchel, in short-hand, whipping to new pages with a disinterested flick of her hand. She didn't glance up at me once, most likely considering briefly the inconsequential words before moving on.

I made us fresh coffee just before the topic moved onto myself; more personal statements. Do I believe in love? How long have I known about my sexuality? What's my answer to the trolley problem? And, to bring it back to the start, do I believe in an afterlife? That was the one I didn't answer. I said I couldn't. Natasha said that was okay. From her sigh, her tired smile, and the way her hand lay flat on top of the closed notepad, I got the impression I had given her nothing to further investigate. Maybe she knew all this already. Maybe other people had been interviewed before me.

I was seeing her out with Diva finally coming around, circling Natasha, fawning for belly scratches, when Natasha said something that jogged my memory.

Well, thank you again for the coffee. If you think of anything else that might be of interest, you can phone reception and ask for my extension.

The mental image of the man in white, peering out from the trees, came racing back to me. I mentioned it just as Natasha had stepped outside and I was standing at the front door. I expected her to just quickly jot it down on her notepad. What happened instead was Natasha's polite smile dropped, fading as quickly as the colour from her face and the pupils from her eyes.

I thought you said it was a woman you saw go in first!

I clarified what I meant; that the man was in the paddock, looking out. She pressed me grillingly.

And are you SURE they were inside the paddock? Do you mean they were beside the wall? Did you see them go over the wall or were they definitely inside it already?

I tried to stay calm, but the panic in her voice was unsettling. Nonetheless, I reiterate what I said; I saw a man in white looking out from over the wall, under the trees, from within the paddock. I asked was something wrong.

…. No...

That was all I got. A ghostly, vacant single word, like the escaping breath of death. It was soft. It was scared. She left with no farewell. All I got to remember this strange encounter was a nagging question on my mind; what do I believe?


About the Creator

Conor Matthews

Writer. Opinions are my own.

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