Sunday, July 5, 2009
The Short Tales of Henry Juniper
"The Gopher Tree"
By, Moses T. Clark
Long ago there lived an axe man named Henry Juniper, who made his home in the northern woods of Vulgaria. Now many claimed Henry to be a man of oddity, but the truth was that Henry was a man of mystery. For the wondrous things that might seem adventurous to the average, was only a daily routine for the daring and dangerous tales of Henry. He was a legacy to some and a curse to others. But people depended on his product—the economy needed the fruits of his talent. For Henry was the one man that could find gopher wood.
One day Henry went deep into the woods, so deep that the present void began to cast a sudden darkness on the land. It was so dark now that Henry could not see his hands in front of his face, yet he was not afraid, for he had seen things that people would only see in their nightmares. He continued to pace on, with his torch for light in one hand, and his mighty axe in the other. His arms were built tough and thick, capable of slaughtering any beast or foe. Even the bears and wildlife gave respect to Henry, for he was a man that did not fear death, nor did he hesitate in bringing death to those that threatened his purpose.
As he went forth, a sudden high pitched voice came blowing through the trees, a shrilling sound that brought Henry to his knees:
“Henry Juniper, Henry Juniper, why have you come back to feed on thy trees, have thy not had enough?”
His torch light was now dull and dim; he strained his voice struggling to speak:
“Have you not given me thy oath? Have I not been loyal enough to slaughter this one tree? If so, then stand aside Lady, and let me do thine work!” He said.
The Lady of the Trees then created a light-vision on him, enabling him to see the truth of this dark forest; he would see nothing but one youthful gopher tree left, and his eyes would show no emotion, still burning with greed and duty. Without a hesitant ponder he swung at the little tree, killing the last of its kind. Tears fell down The Tree Lady's oval-white eyes and the sounds of death and spirits wailed through Henry’s vision. He ignored their suffering and carried in the fresh gopher wood, filling it in a net and proceeded to find his way back home.
When he got to the main land he noticed that nothing was left—it was a ghost town. Where did the people go? He thought, for this place was just busy a few weeks ago; packed streets and full inns, now there was an abrupt emptiness. Henry went out towards the familiar lake and there was only a sucked up trench of dryness. He fell to his knees contemplating this hell. He finally realized that the trees had got up and moved from the land—taking nature and all it’s kind with them. Further down the road, he seen corpses of hundreds, laid out in stillness while bugs and maggots ate on their flesh. “What have I done? Oh God what have I done?!” He said to himself in a panic.
Soon after, he too began to suffocate…falling to his knees due to lack of oxygen. He would lie down to rest with his people who he so diligently served. Nature has completely turned their back from this land. The Lady of the Trees patiently studied Henry, as he struggled for his final breath. She then ordered her army to kick all the bodies into the trench so Henry could watch her as she turned the lake into fire and brimstone. When Henry woke up from his tormented vision, the Lady of The Trees was there to comfort him:
“Come Henry for you did honour me with thine oath…but I wanted you to see how it feels not to receive mercy. I also wanted you to see the heart of the one who loves their son.”
Henry drew a face of tears, embracing the Lady for her love and forgiveness. From that day forward, he would retire his axe and become a planter of trees.