The Demon Tree

The tree wants me dead.

The tree is a malicious menace. The tree is a dark demon. The tree is an evil entity. The tree is after me. The tree wants me dead. I don’t even know why but the tree wants my soul.

I never had these thoughts sober. I don’t like using the word “sober” here because “sober” is usually used in regards to alcohol usage/abuse. I think words like “fucked up” are more appropriate here. I don’t even remember what I was on at the time and does it really matter? With the drugs pulling apart reality, removing the facade that is always over the actual reality, I could see beyond. And the tree was a demon. It was such a simple and obvious realization that I’m surprised it took my body being loaded with chemicals to actually notice it.

Sober, as much as the word didn’t apply to the concoction within, the tree never bothered me. It was only a minor irritant in my life, nothing threatening to my very being. When it would storm or was windy I was always terrified of the bastard falling over onto the house. Somehow smashing and killing me as I was on the toilet or walking up the stairs. You know, dying one of the mundane deaths that I’m perpetually terrified of. People are killed by buses — I know they’re dead and don’t actually care about how they died — but in the moments before they die, I always wondered if they’re able to think, “Is this really how I go? A bus? Really?!” A fleeting moment of disbelief that their life is over due to such a silly chance occurrence. It has to be demeaning in a way. Or fitting. A perfectly mundane, hilarious, and chance encounter marking the end of a life filled with the mundane, hilarious, and chance encounters. Glorious deaths are only fitting for glorious lives, and to be honest there are none outside of books/film/video games.

Sometimes the tree (when it was windy, the tree couldn’t do much on its own so relied on the wind to assist in tormenting me) would shed its pine needles all over my car. It’s not that I’m one of those people that were obsessed with my vehicle, but a stray pine needle or two sticking out from the crevice between the hood and car’s body would incessantly bother me until I removed it. Sometimes they would get caught under the wiper blades and instead of a perfectly wiped window, I’d have tiny streaks due to the needles that were wedged under the blades. Stuff like that. Not threatening by any means, but still something to slightly ruin your day.

And the sap, let’s not forget the sap. The tree itself was about thirty feet from where I parked my car, but somehow sap would still find its way to my vehicle. Sap on the windows which was smeared any time I rolled the window down/up or used my wipers. And tree sap is something unique that is almost impossible to remove once it finds its way somewhere. You need to make a dedicated effort to remove pine sap from a vehicle and if this happened in the winter it was going to stay there for a long time hardening. I would also walk through the yard and have sap stuck to my foot. Once again nothing to really ruin your day, but still an annoyance.

In my drug-fueled state I seen the tree for what it was: a demon. A menace that did all of these things on purpose. It had only been gently toying with me in regular day-to-day life and I had never caught onto him until that day. It was in the evening, well after sunset where the sun lights up the upper level clouds against the darkened but still star-free sky. The clouds took on an ethereal light against the dark navy of the sky above it. And the tree? It looked not as a thing but an absence of something against the clouds. A spidery, tall, and looming presence that was black and only black. A shape that you could see only because it blocked out material things behind it. It wasn’t so much a thing or an object as a void. A huge, looming, void presiding over the porch.

I wasn’t sure if it hated me alone or people in general. Trees are generally terrifying to me, at least when I think about them for too long. Trees are so old and plants in general have been around on this planet millions (if not billions) of years before animals, let alone us shitty humans. Ever present and ever looming. Forests of them covered the planet silently for millions of years before any conscious human ever was around to think about them.

And what did us humans do once we showed up? We figured out how to fuck the planet up in ever more efficient and dangerous ways with every technical advancement we developed. Agriculture. Smelting. Metallurgy. The industrial revolution. Trains. Coal. Oil. Fossil fuels. Cars. Airplanes. Burn down the forests because we need to eat beef. We need farms. In the blink of an eye (geologically speaking) a holocaust of trees had occurred, and you can’t help but understand why this tree wanted me dead.

As the drugs ripped apart and rearranged the overlying world and universe I was able to see thing I didn’t normally see. The trees roots went deep, down hundreds of feet just like any other tree, but where the roots ended? A big black mass of void, evil, and malice. The roots entwined and fed off the darkness drawing it up into the trunk and distributing it to the rest of its limbs. The other trees weren’t like this even if they had some deep and underlying fear of humans; they were innocent trees that simply grew and enjoyed their lives, but this one was different. The rest of the trees even seemed to be slightly leaning away from this large demon I was staring at. As if even they wanted to get away from him even fixed to the ground as they were.

As for where the darkness below me came? I have no idea. I didn’t want to think about it very much, especially in my state.

The tree reached for me as a tree would try, but it was still bound by physical laws. I could see a dim reddish light glowing at the core of the tree, it was his anger for me. The branches hung listlessly and swung towards me when wind gave it a reason to do so. The branches nearest to the ground sort of bowing down and upwards like a beckoning finger.

The tree wanted me dead. Maybe it wanted everyone dead, I didn’t know for sure. But the joke was on the tree: most of the time I wanted myself dead as well but wasn’t courageous enough to go through with the task of bowing out of life. But I looked into the heart of the tree, the glowing red heart of hatred that it had, and I held my glass up to him.

“I tell you what, old sport. If I ever do decide to exit this awful realm, well, you can help me.”

The tree swayed slightly even though no obvious wind was about.

“If I ever decide to bow out, maybe I’ll use a noose, I’ll toss it right over your branch.” I pointed to one of his low-hanging and thicker limbs. “Right there. Would that make you happy?”

It swayed again.

“But I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll hang around for as long as possible. Hell, I might even chop you down. Burn you. Maybe take up paper making for a hobby? You know, do what my ancestors have done for centuries. I bet you would make good charcoal to grill with.”

It leered at me in a way that only a tree could do.

“Don’t be too upset, I’m only joking. I bet we will be best friends in the end, after everything has been said and done.”

The tree nodded in eager agreement.

Time is Running Out

An author desperately tries to write a story.

This is the first (posted) chapter to the hypothesized story about random bullshit that I’ve decided to try writing. And it’s exactly what I hoped it would be: total subconscious ramblings with zero regard to an overarching plot or anything. I’m also not suicidal so don’t worry.

I need to sit down and get this chapter written fast. Why is that, you might ask? It’s because I just ate a fist full of cough medicine pills, that’s why. I took the fuckers ten minutes ago, and the clock is ticking. These boys kick in after about an hour and when that happens time ceases to exist. And after that point I’ll have no idea what is going on. I won’t be able to write a story. I also can’t believe it took ten fucking minutes for the computer to turn on. But that’s what I get for buying the cheapest laptop I could find for this writing adventure of mine. Whatever.

I took fifteen of those pills by the way. They’re Robitussin Cough Gels. The only active ingredient is dextromethorphan, more frequently known as DXM. This is mostly because when people actually abuse dextromethorphan they quickly become unable to spell/pronounce that monstrosity of a word and DXM is a quick way to get your point across to people: I’m abusing fucking cough medicine. Like a teenager.

They’re each 15 milligrams a pill which means I’ve eaten 225 milligrams. And because I’m a Man of Science this means I’ve dosed about 3.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. When you take drugs you need to account for your body weight. Any alcoholic knows this. Skinny people can get by only drinking a few beers while your large people need about nine of them to get drunk. The same is true for dextromethorphan: the more you weigh the more you need to take. By dividing the milligram dosage by your weight (in kilograms because science only uses the metric system) you’re left with the dose per kilogram of body weight. This tells you in a simple number how fucked up you will become. This 3.1 mg/kg dose will put me firmly in the second plateau of DXM exploration. I’ll be fucked up, kinda drunk, kinda dopey, but nothing involving ego-death or meeting aliens/divine beings. I won’t be seeing music or transcending to another dimension. I’ll just be fucked up and walking around with the classic robotic walk that DXMers display. It’s called robotripping for a reason.

Okay, okay. Enough rambling. I only have like twenty minutes left before all hell breaks loose. Get your shit together. Okay, so what is this chapter going to be about today? Um. Okay. It’s going to be about that guy at work that is awful at conversations. Work. Weather. Sports. The Holy Trinity of mundaneness. Of talking because you have to talk because silence is scary. His name is Johnny. It can’t be John because John sounds to mature. Maybe Larry? Or Lonny? Or Bobby? No. Fuck it. Johnny is good enough. Let’s get to work.

I was on break one day. A day like any other day. And Johnny walks into the break room. And he says, “Did you know that it’s cold out?”

I looked out the window and it was snowing. I don’t know if anyone considered it warm if it’s snowing outside. I said, “Yeah. It looks pretty cold outside. It is snowing.”

“Do you think it’s going to warm up soon, James?”

It was January. The end of January. Warmth was just an illusion by that point: a vague shadow of a memory, a long-forgotten sensation. What exactly did heat even feel like anymore? It was the furthest thing from reality at this time of the year. By this time you’d just bear down and deal with life one day at a time. It was cold — brutally cold — like if you went outside you actually had a chance of dying if you didn’t wear the proper clothing. Why anyone voluntarily lived in the Midwest was a question I’d ask myself daily in January and February. Something about Scandinavian settlers I vaguely recalled.

“Yeah probably not.”

He looked at me and looked away. He looked at me. He looked away. Again and again. Johnny couldn’t sit still. Johnny wanted to talk. Socialize at all costs because silence was a demon. Silence was something dark and nebulous that only appeared in the absence of something actual tangible. Sound is a thing, silence is that thing not being there. Silence is to sound what death is to life. Johnny stared at me, his eyes bulging.

“Do you have any more vacations left?”

I had told Johnny over and over in the past weeks that my sole vacation was scheduled for July. Even though January and July both start with J’s like Johnny’s name they were polar opposites. January was so cold and dark that you could die if you didn’t wear enough clothes outside. July was so hot and bright that you could die if you wore too many clothes outside. My vacation was as far away from me as physically possible. The Earth had to be on the opposite side of the sun for me to be on vacation: my vacation was literally 180 million miles away.

“Um. Uh. Yeah. Mine is scheduled for July.”

Johnny nodded and started looking at me, and away, and at me, and away all over again.

He then said, “Maybe you should kill yourself James.”

“What?”

He looked at me slightly confused. “Have you met Bill the new guy, James?”

“Oh.” I thought for a moment. Maybe I misunderstood him. “I thought you said something else. No, I haven’t met Bill.”

“I think Bill wants you to kill yourself,” Johnny said.

“What?”

Johnny looked confused. “I didn’t say anything,” he said. “Are you okay?”

“Oh. Yeah. I think I’m fine…”

I felt tired and sleepy and like I might be in a dream. But I wasn’t in a dream because reality had some fabric to it that dreams never had. While I never dreamt in black-and-white the colors were always dull. I glanced at the vending machine which seemed to be on fire with the intense red color from the Cheez-Its and the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contained within. It surely wasn’t a dream: the colors were too bright. I closed my eyes and opened them. I was alive. I was there. I felt like a puppet. I felt like a robot. I felt as if I was in a dream but I wasn’t dreaming. I felt fake.

“Just kill yourself James.”

“Johnny…no. What?”

“I didn’t say anything James. But if I did say something it would be ‘Kill yourself, James.’”

“I don’t feel good Johnny. I think I should go home.”

“Well, you can’t kill yourself here, now can you? Do you have a gun at home? Or some rope for a noose? Everyone has rope, right?” Johnny laughed a very childish laugh.

The walls kinda shifted and shimmered. Like it was an illusion painted over whatever was really there and the illusion was starting to melt away. I went to stand up but my legs we just as rubbery and unreal as the walls appeared.

“You know what the goal of life is James? And call me John by the way — not Johnny. Not anymore that is. The goal of life is to be happy James.” It was as if John was talking to a child, trying to explain some immensely obvious thing to someone oblivious to it. “If life is a function, like a mathematical function, x- an y-, and maybe a z-axis if you really want, life is about maximizing the happiness in your life.

“Do you know what integrals are? The area under the curve? All of our choices are driven by maximizing the area under the curve of our happiness function. This sort of f-of-x where x is time and f(x) is happiness. We make choices to maximize this over time. And it all adds up as integrals do. If the line is above zero you add happiness and if the line is below zero you subtract happiness. Does that makes sense to you, Jimmy?”

I blinked trying to come back to reality. But since I was already in reality where was I trying to escape to?

“It probably doesn’t make sense to you. It makes sense to me though. My f(x) is always positive, I live and my happiness adds up to infinity. Because life is so simple! I have it all figured out Jimmy! You overcomplicate things, you know that right? Yes, you do. And as you overcomplicate things your function goes below zero and subtracts happiness from your life. And as this goes on? It keeps getting worse for you.

“What you need to do is to maximize your happiness integral function by stopping it in its tracks right now: which means killing yourself. Every day you add time to your happiness function you subtract from your total happiness integral because yours is below zero. The way forward is so clear I don’t understand how you don’t see it: just get on with it. Find a bag and put it over your head. Breathe in helium. Shoot yourself in the head. Hang yourself from the ceiling. Poison yourself. Whatever you want to do really.

“Johnny…John. Whatever. Please stop. I feel sick. I…”

He giggled his childish giggle. I closed my eyes and opened them again and Johnny was staring at me. He looked away. He looked at me. And looked away.

“James, you don’t look too good! You look sick! Maybe you should go home!”

“Why did you say all of that to me?”

“Say what? I just said it was snowing really hard outside. Look at how it’s coming down! Wow! My hands are so cold, I had to bring two pairs of gloves to work today. Burr!” He clapped his hands together. As childish as ever.

The walls continued to melt, my legs still allowed me no escape, and the table I was sitting on started to consume me. It was melting like a heated piece of plastic would and I sank into it, melting along with everything else in reality. And while terrified I melted right into it, my brain turning to a sticky goo just like everything else in existence.

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