A Tree In The Woods



Scene Title A Tree in the Woods
Synopsis In the wake of his failure to steal Odessa's ability, Samson Gray retreats to his most remote safehouse to make a difficult choice.
Date June 28, 2018

If a tree falls in the woods…

…and no one is around…

…does it?

Bark explodes from the flank of an old oak tree, sending flinders of wood flying in every direction. Half of the tree collapses from the explosion of incindiary force, toppling down and smashing through the boughs of neighboring trees in the rambling expanse of lonely forest. Another tree, just a few feet away, bursts into flames and then explodes as well, sending flinders of wood rocketing up into the air before raining back down in a clattering crash to the leaf-strewn forest floor below.

Between the trees, smoke rolls like a ground fog, but moves with an intelligent purpose. It rises up, boiling into a pillar of seething blackness as another tree simply snaps in half like a toothpick broken on a fitful whim. The upper half of the tree hovers in the air, then is flung into the forest with a riotous crash. The smoke boils, churns, and seethes with palpable anger, if smoke could feel such things.

But then, the cloud of smoke drops down into a carpet again and zips off like a line of ink into the treeline. Soon smoke changes form, ash and soot replaced by tenebrous shadow with ragged edges like a two-dimensional ink painting of a ghost. It flutters across the ground, rises up into the air and weaves between two tightly spaced trees, zips down a rolling embankment where a rusted bicycle is tangled up in roots and creeper vines. The shadow glides across the surface of a babbling brook, past discarded beer cans with labels long since faded over decades of sun exposure.

Slowly, the shadow creeps up over the steep embankment on the other side, effortlessly slithering onto mostly flat ground and slinking over rocks and leaves to where the forest parts into a wooded clearing. An old dirt trail leads away from the clearing, nearby to where a derelict rust-colored and rusted car is covered with decades of pine needles and leaves, all four tires flat and windshield smashed. But it is beyond the ruined car that the shadow creeps, slithering across bare earth to a structure hidden deep in the forest, a lonely trailer with dingy windows and a moss-covered roof, tucked away in the forested depths.

The shadow rises up to take the form and dimensions of a man, ragged beard and wild gray hair partly matted to a weathered scalp. Deep set, sunken eyes ringed with dark circles and bags of sleepless nights stare up at the trailer, and as bushy gray brows raise into an expression of haunted guilt, Samson Gray steps forward to the trailer's door with the setting sun at his back, shoulders slacked and tension fading.

For even a monster has a home.

Samson's Trailer

New Jersey Pine Barrens

New Jersey

June 28, 2018

8:37 pm

Inside the trailer, is it eminently clear that whoever lives here is unwell. Stacks of newspapers line counter space by the front door along with a menagerie of half finished and dust-covered taxidermied animals. The door turns in the trailer's lock, and as it opens Samson calmly steps into the trailer with a heavy frown. His wide, sad eyes quickly scan the narrow residence, checking the old caramel-colored cloth fabric couch, where more newspapers, magazines, and VHS tapes are piled up. A launry basket on the floor nearby is filled with animal bones, atop wihch more newspapers have fallen from the coffee table.

As Samson steps in, he lets out a wheezing cough and closes the door behind himself, flipping the deadbolt. With a few more ragged steps he makes his way into the kitchen, where dishes are piled up in the sink beside stacks of old, unused tupperware and a tower of canned beans and vegetables with sun-faded labels. Mason jars are past that, filled with pickled vegetables and each jar coated in a thick later of dust. A single wooden picture frame lays face down nearby.

Samson moves with a purpose to the cramped dining room that is a part of the kitchen, the weathered linoleum cracking loudly under each footstep. He comes to the round kitchen table and pulls a wooden chair back from it, sitting down and delicately touching the side of his face with one hand. The bruise there has already turned yellow and black, stinging with stars of red that welt up near his cheekbone. Smoldering with anger, Samson reaches inside the front pocket of his flannel shirt and pull sout a crumpled pack of cigarettes, fingering around inside and then throwing the empty pack to the floor with an angry shout that turns into fitful, painful coughing.

After a few moments, Samson cathes his breath and rises to his feet, moving thorugh the kitchen to an open door beyond that leads into what once may have been a bedroom. There is a bed there, a pair of matresses stacked atop one-another on the matted carpet. But the bed is covered with a mound of old clothes, backpacks, and shoes. Lined up against the wall, new-looking oxygen tanks sit in a row, some toppled ovr and laying askew on the floor. Samson motions for one, dragging it with a languid telekinetic tug over to himself, as he hauls it to a chair that his breathing mask hangs over the back of.

Coughing again, Samson tiredly hooks up the oxygen tank, then puts the mask over his face and breathes in deeply. As his eyes close, there is a moment of peace. When they open, Samson's eyes settle on a shotgun leaning up against the wall, several boxes of ammunition beside it. Samson lowers his hand holding the breathing mask, lets his gaze wander away from the shotgun to look around the room. Hi sbrows raise again, shoulders slack, and that frown grows heavier. After wetting his lips, he looks down to the floor and drops the breathing mask beside his foot, and rakes his hands through his hair.

He sits there, silent for a while, with nothing but the keening sounds of mournful sobbing to keep him company. Though after a time, he does find some resolution. Rising to his feet, Samson makes slow progress toward the shotgun, finally having the resolve to do what cancer has already decided for him. He moves with a quickness, fearing that if he stops to consider it further he'll talk himself out of it. Instead, Samson reaches for the shotgun and checks to ensure its loaded. Then, he turns and sits on the side of the bed, resting the butt of the shotgun between his feet and keeping the barrel angled to the ceiling.

He squares his eyes into the open closet across from the bed, the vynil accordion door pushed nearly all the way open. Bu tthere's no clothes inside, just dusty newspaper clippings pinned to the wall. Faces, dozens of them, spread across twice as many newspaper articles. As Samson settles the underside of his chin atop the shotgun barrel, a woman's face is staring at him from inside the closet. His hand moves to the trigger.


A look of confusion flits across Samson's face, brows twitching and lips parting in a breathless sound. The shotgun is moved to the bed, and Samson rises up to move into the closet, greedily snatching the piece of yellowed paper from the wall and quickly hustling to the bedroom window. The curtains tear themselves open without a touch, casting the room in lambent shades of orange from the setting sun. Turning the paper over in his hands, Samson's eyes track the faded words on newsprint.

Samson's hands begin to tremble as he holds the paper, eyes alight to the burning orange sun split by the trees and hi face cast in their vertical shadows. A hiccuped bubble of laughter slips from Samson's lips as he looks back down to the obituary, followed by the slow creep of a knife-like smile that spreads so far it turns up into a curl where it meets his oft-unseen dimples.

"You clever girl," Samson wheezes as his eyes settle on the obituary again.

The Odessa Register                  April 9, 1984



Rianna K. (Mas) Price, 36, passed away on April 8, 1984. She is the daughter of the late Terrence and Amelia (Beaumont) Mas. Born in Manhattan, Kansas on May 8, 1948, a graduate of the University of Kansas and went on to achieve her nursing degree. Rianna is survived by her daughter, Odessa Price. Rianna also leaves her brother Eric Mas of New York, NY. All services were private for the immediate family.

"You clever…"

"…clever girl."

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