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The Tree of Blood

A horror story

By emaPublished 2 months ago 8 min read
Top Story - February 2024
11
The Tree of Blood
Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

Aldo was proud of his yellow rose bush. His critical eye focused on the individual branches: most of them had between 5 and 7 buds, one branch had only one, and another had none at all. In this way, the bush was unbalanced to the left and had to be corrected. He was ready to cut the guilty branches, when, lowering his gaze, he noticed the trickle of water reaching the base of the bush.

As always, the water came from the neighboring garden thanks to the slope of the land. He smiled thinking about Alberto, his elderly neighbor. He always joked that sooner or later he would make him pay part of the bill.

Aldo continued his fight against the unproductive branches and when satisfied, he took a few steps back to observe the work, he once again focused on the stream of water at his feet: it was different from usual, darker and denser. He bent down and took some between his fingers, it wasn't water, it was a slimmer liquid that looked a lot like blood.

Aldo followed with his eyes the liquid coming from under the fence that divided the two gardens. The blood certainly didn't come from irrigation but dripped slowly from the trunk of the cherry tree. He felt stupid, maybe it was a resin of some kind, he didn't know anything about cherries, he just ate the ones Alberto gave him every year.

At that moment Alberto went out into the garden followed by his 12-year-old nephew who was holding a basket.

“Did you see? They matured earlier this year!”

Aldo raised his eyes towards the branches and indeed noticed a large quantity of ripe cherries. The two set up a ladder and the grandson climbed up to pick the cherries.

Aldo asked: “What's dripping from the trunk, have you seen? “

Alberto turned to look at him with a half smile: "It's its lifeblood, that's why the tree is so lush and this year it will produce double the number of cherries, they will be juicier and sweeter, now you'll see."

In a few minutes the basket was full and Alberto offered it to Aldo on the other side of the net:

“Here it is, the first collection just for you!”

Aldo returned home and placed the basket on a kitchen shelf.

That night the branches of the cherry tree and the lights of the street lamps had agreed to cast a deformed shadow in his room. Only now did Aldo realize that the tree was much taller than last year and reached the window of his bedroom on the second floor. He turned over in bed several times, but the sweat on his back gave him no respite and with his head aching he got up to go and drink a glass of water.

The basket of cherries they had given him was still on the shelf in the kitchen, he had put them there to wash them before tasting them, then he had forgotten them. They looked even redder and more inviting, so he began rinsing them under the tap. He brought one to his mouth and chewed it slowly, waiting to feel the stone between his teeth, but he didn't find it. The center of the fruit was soft and even sweeter but with an unusual flavor. He took the second cherry into his mouth, this time he didn't feel the hard contact of the stone between his teeth either, so he spat it into the sink.

Maybe they were rotten and had worms, he thought, many fruits look perfect on the outside, but the worms have already crept inside them. He took a third cherry and cut it in two with the knife. This time too, there was no stone, in its place a dark red lump that dripped thickly. He crushed what remained of the cherry between his fingers: he had no doubts, it was full of dried blood. He threw all the cherries in the garbage and ran out into the garden still barefoot.

In the dim light of the street lamps, the trickle of blood that continued to invade his space appeared completely black and could barely be distinguished from the ground. The buds were barely visible between the leaves, but looking closer he noticed that his beloved yellow roses were flecked with red.

He looked towards Alberto's house, the kitchen light was on so he rushed towards the front door, reaching it in a few seconds. She rang the doorbell repeatedly, determined to settle this absurd matter, but Alberto opened the door with a big smile: “Have you tried the cherries? Good, right?”. And with a wave of his hand, she invited him to come in.

Aldo hesitated on the threshold "I tasted them... they don't have the stone and..."

" Indeed!". Alberto said. “It's the graft I did some time ago! You saw how beautiful it was, so when we make jam everything is simpler... come on in!”.

Aldo decided to enter and as he passed in front of him, he noticed that Alberto's eyes were red and worn.

Entering the kitchen he was enveloped by the scent of jam while Marta, Alberto's wife, had her back to him, busy at the stove. On the table were a lot of jars full of still steaming jam and on a chair, his little nephew stared at him with bloodshot eyes, while with mechanical movements he took the cherries one by one from the basket, detaching the stalk or and threw them into a pot.

Marta turned towards the table: "I know you like my jam a lot, these are ready", she filled a box with about ten jars and handed it to Aldo. Nothing strange about his brown eyes, kind as always.

For a moment Aldo hoped that at least she could understand his discomfort, but he wasn't sure so he tried to test the waters: "You know Marta... I heard that... this year the cherries have a disease, now they don't remember the name, but it can cause allergies, better to leave it alone."

“Ah, I don't know anything about these things” Marta returned to her stove with her back to him. “Take these jars and make yourself a nice tart!”

Aldo left in a hurry and as soon as he got home he emptied all the jars into the toilet, but he hesitated when he got to the last one, maybe he should have had it analyzed. He opened it, the jam was perfect, shiny, and fragrant, a beautiful bright red color. He took some with his finger and tasted it, the first sensation was of sweetness, but shortly after he felt a vague taste of iron at the back of his tongue... he also emptied the last jar into the toilet, he didn't want to have anything in it what to do and he didn't want anyone to find that rubbish in his house.

He finally went back to bed, it was 2.30 in the morning. He continued to toss and turn in the sheets while the cursed tree cast his shadow on the wall. Closing his eyes was of no use because his mind continued to see branches full of cherries, the scent of jam filled his nostrils and the metallic taste of blood persisted at the back of his throat. While he was thinking about how to replace those old shutters with a roller shutter to have total darkness in the room and avoid shadows of any kind, he finally fell asleep.

He opened his eyes at 8.00 and all the memories of the previous night came back to his mind. He reluctantly got up and opened the shutter, the first thing he saw was the blooming cherry tree and the second was his rose bush. Red. Having bloomed all together, the roses had given up the timid yellow for an intense vermilion red that Aldo would have adored on other occasions and which now appeared dark and grotesque to him.

He wanted to run out and cut down that horrible tree, but he didn't know how since he didn't have any tools big enough. Instead, she calmly closed the shutters, he entered the bathroom, looked at himself in the mirror, and observed a slight redness in his left eye. Maybe it was the sleepless night, he thought. He took a long shower and then went out into the garden.

With methodical calm he cut all the red roses, one by one, he counted 35 of them, and then he decided to shorten the branches too, finally, not satisfied, he went back into the house to get the larger shears and decided to cleanly cut the trunk at the base. Completely sweating, he stood there looking at the severed trunk with the trickle of blood still feeding it.

He looked up to his left and saw Alberto, Marta, and their grandson looking at him with bloodshot eyes. He slowly advanced towards them and when he got to the fence separating them he began cutting it with the shears.

Marta ran into the house with the child. Alberto said something, but Aldo didn't hear and when he managed to open a passage, Alberto also ran into the house.

Aldo also entered his house to look for something. It took him a few seconds, he went back and doused the entire trunk with alcohol, then set it on fire with a match. The flames quickly spread upwards while Aldo shouted his victory and the neighbors looked out of their windows to watch the spectacle in shock. They were too far away to tell if they too had red eyes, but it seemed so to him. Certainly, Marta had already distributed the contaminated jam to everyone.

In the euphoria of the victory, Aldo didn't realize that his trousers were also on fire and only when they reached his shirt did he feel the excruciating pain on his skin. Panic gripped him as he still held the bottle of alcohol in his hand. He staggered back and got caught in the net he had just cut, tried to take off his clothes and while the bottle lit up like a torch, the flames that reached the crown of the cherry tree slowly died down to leave just a few burn marks on the sturdy trunk of the tree of blood.

----

Thank you for reading!

This story is translated from Italian with the help of Google translator and Grammarly.

psychologicalsupernaturalhalloweenfiction
11

About the Creator

ema

I invent stories, sometimes they need to be written.

Carpe Diem Tempus Fugit.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (12)

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  • Courtanae Heslopabout a month ago

    Wow, what a gripping tale! 🌟 Aldo's journey from tending to his beloved yellow rose bush to confronting the eerie occurrences in his neighbor's garden is truly captivating. It's a reminder that sometimes, things aren't always what they seem at first glance. 🌹 As I reflect on Aldo's story, I can't help but wonder: Have you ever experienced a situation where your initial perceptions were challenged? How did it change your perspective? 🤔 Let's share our stories and explore the layers beneath the surface together!

  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    Congrats!

  • Kelly Sibley 2 months ago

    And pruning just became deadly! Really enjoyed your story!

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    Powerful story! Won’t look at the garden quite the same way again for a while. Congratulations on Top Story. 👏

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    Back to say congrats on Top Story!!! Happy come back, Ema!!

  • Test2 months ago

    Terrific work! Keep it going—congratulations!

  • When you said there were no stones inside the cherries, do you mean seeds? I'm so sorry, I know you said that this was translated from Italian. I just wanted to make sure I understand correctly. Those blood cherries seem to be my kinda fruits hehehehehe. I would gladly accept all those jars on jam from Martha! Loved your story!

  • What a terrifying story! I was captivated by the suspense and images throughout, which left me feeling both fascinated and uneasy.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    Wow Ema, this was bone chilling and such a creepy premiss for a story!! Love what you did here!!

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