Avatar Author: Jim Stitzel I dabble a little in a lot of things -- writing, webcomics, gaming, photography, web design, music, and more. I'm a full-time code-wrangler and a part-time farmer with 40 acres, a lot of animals, and far, far too much to do. Read Bio

In hindsight, Trista realized she probably shouldn’t have fallen asleep under that tree.


Pus dripped into Trista’s eyes from the multiple infected sores on her scalp. She wanted to wipe it away, but the tree held her fast, pinning her arms to her sides, arms she could no longer feel. Feverish and frequently delirious, Trista couldn’t struggle. She’d lost track of how long she’d been trapped here. Days? Hours? She couldn’t remember.

Her body was coming apart. She was covered in sores as the tree slowly digested her. Her skin was sloughing off in greasy sheets, exposing bone and muscle that had turned black from the tree’s corrosive sap. Strands of flesh and tissue were all that was holding her organs in and that not very well. Already thick coils of bowel stretched from her abdomen to the ground, where insects feasted on them.

In her rare moments of coherency, she longed for death. She had suffered for so long.

Her final thought was a wish – a wish that she had never ventured into this hateful forest.

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Comments (12 so far!)

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  1. Avatar LaraLustre

    ouch! & i thought I had it bad! Just a note – shouldn’t that be ‘coherence’?

  2. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    Either/or. The two forms are pretty interchangeable.

  3. Avatar Krulltar

    This had a Brothers Grimm feel to it, and I love the original take on the challenge. This wasn’t the standard fairy/elf/dwarf/dragon fantasy tale, with wonderful descriptions that were not overly explict.

  4. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    Thanks! I just really like dark fiction that breaks out of the standard formats for genre fiction. I’m glad you enjoyed this!

  5. Avatar Devin Parker

    Wow! That’s a pretty awful way to die. Some high-octane nightmare fuel, that is.

  6. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    Aye. The trees, they be hungry.

  7. Avatar Darren Landrum

    This reminds me a lot of the Prey Trees of Bas-Lag, in China MiĆ©ville’s Iron Council. Well done!

  8. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    I haven’t quite gotten to his writings yet. I’ve got a couple on my bookshelf, just haven’t worked that far down the stack yet. I’ll have to put Iron Council on my list.

  9. Avatar Darren Landrum

    Iron Council’s a pretty heavy read. Like all of his books, really. He really builds up a very interesting world, though, with fascinating creatures.

  10. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    I’m not intimidated by heavy reading, so I think it sounds like something I’d really enjoy.

  11. Avatar cthulhuburger

    Wow. This was gruesome and it really pushed the limits of good taste, but I don’t think it crossed the line (of course, that’s a matter of opinion).

    I should add that, if you’re interested in China Mieville’s Bas Lag novels, you probably don’t want to start with Iron Council – it’s pretty divisive among his fans. Some like it, some don’t. I would recommend starting with Perdido Street Station and going from there. I’m working on Perdido Street Station at the moment, myself.

    If you don’t want to commit to such a huge and dense book, you may also want to start with Looking For Jake. It’s a collection of stories, one of which is set in Bas Lag (“Jack”).

  12. Avatar Jim Stitzel

    Where that line lies is going to be different for everyone. But I write what inspires my imagination and hope that there a few out there who enjoy it as much as I do.

    Thanks for the feedback, as well the tip on China Mieville’s books. I’ve heard quite a bit about Perdido Street Station and I have a copy of City & the City waiting on my shelf at home. I’m going to finish the latest of Cherie Priest’s writings and then move on to some Mieville next, I think. :)

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