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The Travails of a Tree

<< Back By Cabbage Tree

Chapter One

Oh, gosh, kill me now.

I had the FREAKIEST experience today. There I was, sitting happily at home, when... well, I'm not entirely sure what happened, but the upshot is that I am fairly certain I am no longer at home. I'm in some funky house thing. There's a plaque that identifies it as being the "Paper Cabin", whatever the frell that is. Although, I have to say, the name is pretty fitting. There is paper EVERYWHERE. I mean, you can't even move without knocking over a pile of the stuff. Even the roof is made out of paper!!! What idiot came up with that idea? They'd have to replace the roof every time it rained. SO inefficient. I hope that, wherever I am, there's a sustainable forest industry. Poor innocent trees destroyed for the sake of a bit of interior decoration... Though I must say, this place is kinda pretty, so I won't complain too much. Even I can relax my moral standard a bit.

As nice as this place is, it's also quite boring. I think I'll go exploring. You never know, I might be able to find a way home. I hope I do. I haven't seen the end of Lost yet.

I think I'll steal some of the paper to write a diary of my journey. No one will miss it. Taking a map too.

 

The Road of Battles

Bleak, very bleak. Lots of grass around. I can see some trees in the distace. Wonder if any of my relatives are there? Maybe if I just follow the road I'll get home. Worked for Dorothy.

 

The Clash of Ages

Argh! The remnants of mindless destruction! It's SO depressing. Why is it so dark and gloomy here? I think I'll start singing happy songs to try and keep my spirits up. Starting with "Mr Blue Sky" by ELO.

 

Howling Gates

This place keeps getting worse and worse. Although I DID find a helpful sign that gave me some idea of where I am. Apparently I am standing at the gate to a land called "Necrovion", wherever that is. Doesn't ring a bell. Maybe I'm in Eastern Europe? My knowledge of the geography there is pretty limited. Thank you, Soviet Union, for splintering into lots of tiny states and confusing the hell out of us forever.

The description of Necrovion was pretty depressing, so that kinda backs up the Eastern Europe theory. Now all I need to do is find an airport and fly back home to Auckland. Although I didn't bring my passport with me. Okay, first off I need to find a New Zealand consulate. Do they have those is Yugoslavia?

 

Fields of Abandonment

Oh! Oh! Oh! How disgusting! There's a greasy outline of a dead body here! Eurgh. There really ought to be a road-cleaning crew. This place seriously needs a good brush-up. There's even some graffiti on the wall. And a few planted trees wouldn't go amiss. If ever I figure out how to get home, I'll offer to come back and help design a nicer public space. I could do with the money. Nasturtiums would look rather nice.

 

Chapter Two

 

The Aramory

Well, this has been an interesting day.

So there I was, wandering down this abandoned, seemingly endless depressing road, when suddenly I come across this weird sort of house made out of what seemed to be armor. I swear, the only decent thing about this land is the fact that the architecture is so darn unique. I mean, there are buildings made out of paper, and armor, and there was this seriously wacked one I came across earlier that dripped, yes, that's right, DRIPPED. How's that for ingenuity? Daniel would love this place. Really thinking outside the box. All we need now is a greenroof and he'd be set for life.

Anyway, I stood outside, wondering if I should go in. I hadn't seen anyone yet in this land - another of the little strange things I'd come to notice. I hesitated. Should I knock? After a long debate with myself about ethics and common courtesy, I said to myself, "To hell with it!" and just walked in.

And there I found the strangest of people, all sitting in a circle, all seemingly sad and depressed, and all staring at me.

I froze.

"Er... Hi!" I said.

Blank stares were my only reply.

"Horrible day, isn't it?" I remarked. Actually, 'horrible' was a bit of an understatement, but hey, screw accuracy.

Still no one said anything.

"Er, do you mind if I come inside? Only it looks like it's gonna rain..."

No one refused, so I advanced further into the room and sat down on an available chair. This gave me a chance to observe my companions.

There were nine of them, all seated around a blazing fire. I wasn't sure how they all managed to fit. From the outside the house looked tiny, yet here they were, with room to spare. Presumably it was bigger on the inside. I wonder if they've heard of Time Lords here?

And what strange people they were! There were five people all dressed up in armor. They wore helmets, so I couldn't see their faces. The only part of them not covered in armor were their eyeholes, and there nothing could be seen but empty darkness. The others were no less strange. One was huge and hulking, like some sort of troll. Or someone from "Supersize Me". The remaining three seemed strangely disembodied, like they were not really there, but they looked pretty dark and menacing. I decided that it would be best not to offend these people. They were probably mad. I wondered whether there was an asylum around from which they had escaped.

"Sooooooooo," I said, to break the steadily growing silence. "Nice place you've got here."

"Thank you," said one. I couldn't tell who. Despite the fire, it was still hard to see. Because I am naturally a poetic, descriptive person, I will say that darkness appeared to leak out of the walls, but of course that was impossible. But you get the idea that it was pretty black in here.

"Fascinating way you've decorated this place. Armor! Now there's an idea! A house actually made out of armor!"

"Yes, it is rather. We had a bit of a job making it, but it turned out superbly in the end, if I do say so myself." This time I noticed that it was one of the weird armored people who spoke.

"You should go on Grand Designs!" I said, eager to keep the compliments - and conversation - flowing. Less chance of meeting a nasty death that way, I reasoned.

"Oh, I love that show!" said another of the armor things.

"I know," said yet another. "It's absolutely inspirational."

The conversation died.

"I'm a bit lost, do you know whereabouts I am?"

"The dead lands," said one of the black floaty things in a creepy voice.

"Oh, that's nice," I said. "Whereabouts is that?"

No one could give me a comprehensive reply, no matter how many questions I asked.

"Tell you what, you could always go see the Wizard," suggested someone.

"The WHO!" I gasped. Maybe I was seriously high on drugs. I hoped I wasn't. I promised my mother I wouldn't do that stuff.

"Well, you could ask around at Marind Bell, anyway. We're a bit out of the loop down here. We've been dead for years."

"Oh, that's nice," I said again weakly. "How do I get there? And please don't say the yellow brick road."

"Oh, no, it's just an ordinary road. It's not paved. We're a bit behind down here. No modern industry at all... just lots of death and abandoned souls... that's what we are, you know. Souls."

I just gaped.

"Well, all of us except for the grassan over there. He's just your average, run-of-the-mill monster."

"Good for him," I said. My brain had frozen and I could only resort to polite replies. Bless my mother for raising me well.

"Tell you what, we'll come with you! We could do with a bit of a change, we've been sitting here for thirty-two years now. And the road is dangerous."

"The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began, until it joins some larger way. And whither then? I cannot say," murmured one Black Floaty Thing.

"Oh, don't mind him, he never lost his poetic nature, despite the fact he's dead," remarked another.

This was seriously unnerving. "So, anyway, who are you people? What are your names? I'm Cabbage Tree, by the way."

No one said anything.

"Do you even have names?" I asked, desperately making an attempt to be jolly and fun.

One of the dark floaty things shrugged.

"You really don't have names?" I gasped. "That's awful!"

"We didn't see the need," said one.

"We used to have names, but we forgot them. Everyone forgets them, in the end."

I was completely floored. "Well, that's ridiculous. I shall give you names." I looked at the armored people. Their helmets had bands of orange around the edges, which gave me a bit of inspiration. "You," I said, pointing at one, "You're Bill. And you - " pointing at another - "are Charlie. You two can be Fred and George, and that one can be Percy. It's a shame there aren't six of you, because then I could have a Ron as well." I then surveyed the black floaty things. "Um..." I thought, "Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion," I said, naming them quickly. Rather fitting, I thought. The troll thing - the grassan - gave me a bit of trouble. It looked like a troll. There was a poem about a troll in The Lord of the Rings. In that poem there was a man named Tom, which makes one think of Tom Bombadil, and so Tom Bombadil it was.

Not that they appeared to be that interested in their new names. In fact, I was fast beginning to suspect that their only interests were interior decoration and being dead. They merely shrugged, and the grassan guffawed.

"Well... shall we go, then?" I asked. I was still slightly freaked out by my new "friends", I suppose I could call them, though they seemed harmless enough. Apart from the grassan's brute strength and the armoured things' swords and the fact that all of them were dead. (I later found out that the armoured things were called Aramours. Pretty awesome name. It's like armor, but with an 'a' added, so it sounded a bit like amour, which is French for love. Maybe this explains their flair for home decoration? It's an art the French have always possessed...) Still, it would be good to have them on my side during my journey. They were right, it's a strange place out there. And I was beginning to think that I wasn't out of my mind, or travelling Eastern Europe.

I was in another world.

 




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