Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "Strange Trees." Nature & Ritual & A Fictional Anthology?

My fascination with strange trees, with what goes on in nature that we have no clue about, runs deep.  So deep that this story was to be one of a handful dealing with the subject of not just strange trees but strange nature, foundation for a fictional anthology called Strange Trees. I may still write those stories, probably because the wily, wicked ways of nature supply a wealth of possible paths to explore.  And in saying, "wicked," that's only a perception we humans lend to what we don't know; to the mysterious, the unknown and even unknowable.  Because in the forest, my friend, we cannot truly know what goes on, what spirits or forces run rampant beyond our view. 

That's even a  major part of my novel, "The Wilderness Within," in which a sentient forest plays a major role.  I can't wait for you to read that one, oh yes.  You think some of my short fiction is, um, fun...hehehehe...when it all hits the wall in the novel, all bets are off.  What happens then is like nothing you've ever read.  Trust me on that.  But, in saying that, let's be real: a lot of speculative fiction is like nothing you've ever read.  That's just my way of saying you'll have a wild ride, that's all.  ;-)  I believe I may start posting samples and more from the novel(s) after this second big promo push for The Dark Is Light Enough for Me.  

Anyway, nature gone weird plays a key role in many of my stories and this one is a prime example.  Here's what a couple reviewers had to say about "Strange Trees."

"Another piece that has a traditional structure, but with unique undercurrents. The concept that malevolent trees awaken by the onset of menstruation with one of the protagonists, is effective. I also found the language and the POV more tradional than any other of Smith's stories in the anthology, almost (in a modern sense) like H.P. Lovecraft - clinical language - longer sentences, with
evocative descriptions."

"Our self-image (and self-worth) is attacked in "I Want To Be A Pretty Little Girl," as nature's dark secrets are revealed in "Strange Trees.""

"Strange Trees; indeed, strange, strange."

Yeah, Strange.

And here's a sample snagged from after the trees have somehow persuaded Terrence to leave his girlfriend at their disposal...yeah, okay, it may all seem bizarre, but buy the book and it comes together in a weird dance of disturbing revelations right about...



     I awoke abruptly, a sudden hiccup, exhalation of trapped air, face moist and cold, the whole of me, damp.  My eyes ached, adjusting, gray skies above me—movement!  Impossible movement at the edges and all around me.  The sky was overcast, my vision coming into focus, finally, but what of the movement?  What—

     The trees were moving!  The trees were moving, hunched over, a scrum mocking the laws of nature, the core of what was above ground seeming kinetic.

     That is when I saw her—Mandy—clothing shredded and strapped upon a mound, held there via the roots of some thicker trees that coiled out from below the ground and subdued her as sufficiently as buckled straps.  The thin, mobile trees leaned over with a flexibility that defied logic, an elasticity that obliterated normal perceptions, dipping spear-like tips into her body, crimson tipped now—looking like the quills of those who sign their souls over to the devil—what was going on?    

     The trees were changing color as they did this, the bleached bone look—gone— replaced by a healthier tan turning to rich brown pigment. 

     She was the “it” they—yes, the trees—wanted brought to them, the “it” they wanted me to bring to them.  Me, somehow drafted, persuaded, responsible for her outrageous incapacitation.   

     I screamed “No” as I got up, tearing thin roots that were haphazardly draped over my body—I hadn’t even noticed them—the efficiency of their effort to restrain me distracted by the easy attraction and fulfillment of Mandy’s more susceptible condition: her blood had been what they had wanted, reasons withheld and beyond my comprehension.  The trees turned in unison, facing me—unwilling participant to their hideous desires—branches brandished in clenched talon urgency, the whole of their bodies slapping down around me with brutal, wood-cracking vehemence.  I stumbled to an awkward stance, spear-like tips shooting in my direction like daggers, flailing branches intent on snaring me.


What's left is a harsh resignation to those mysterious forces of nature we can never really know...

Yes, I will at some point update the blog look a bit to add pages for ordering and reviews and stuff.  Right now, times are hectic and I'm just trying to be consistent with the posts.  So, the book is called, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me, and it's available via Amazon, B&N, OmniLit, Kobo and more.  Actual links are posted in every other blog teaser/sample.  Buy it for a truly fantastical and dread-laced, deeply psychological and even supernatural ride through my wicked playground imagination.

More in a couple/few days, of course.  As I said, consistency, baby, that's what I'm doing now.  Same thing needs to lock in with the too many stories in progress. But that happens, then there's a surge, and a lot get completed.  I'm sure many of the writers out there understand what I'm talking about.

Here's a tree creature, one that might just be releated to the sentient trees in the story, though this fella, created by Oliver Chipping, seems more a hybrid of man and tree and...hmmm, that's one of my fave myths and ideas to work with, too.  Man, nature, melded...hmmm...


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