Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (Short-Story)

‘Don’t sit under the apple tree’, a mum said to her young son, Eric, as he was going out with his three friends to play football. ‘I know mum’ he muttered in reply, clearly having been told this warning before.

They all knew the tale, that the old apple tree just outside of the village was allegedly haunted, the tale goes that witches were burned on and buried in that field and some of their souls never left, and instead merged and formed with the apple tree.

It sits isolated and alone and there are trespassing laws around it, even the local authorities take the tale seriously. Every parent would pass the tale on to their children, and the local school even taught a section of history class dedicated to witchcraft and the apple tree.

After the game of ‘killer football’ Peter had lost and as a result had to forfeit a dare of any kind, and his friends, Charlie, Eric and Ben, all unanimously agreed on what he should do.

Spend an hour alone next to the apple tree, at midnight.

Hesitant at first but he reluctantly decided to do it, all to save face. He then lied to his parents, saying he was sleeping over at Eric’s house, and they all met up about 11.30pm ready to see him off.

‘We want photographic proof and we’ll be sat here watching you’, said Charlie. They were placed about 400 meters away from the apple tree and could just about make out whether or not Peter was still there. And off he went, nervous as any man alive, he slowly walked down the field in the dead of night to this old apple tree. Rumours are the apple tree is over 300 years old, considering apple trees normally have a lifespan of 35-40 years it adds to the mystery surrounding it, nobody can actually confirm or deny this but with the story being passed down from generation to generation it makes sense to just believe it.

Another mystery is what actually happens to the apples, as part of Peter’s dare he also had to bring back an apple.

He arrived within 50 meters of it shaking like a leaf on the tree itself, he was petrified but peer pressure meant he could not stop walking towards it. The clouds had suddenly formed above his head and he was too scared to even acknowledge this. He stood there at first, amazed at how well and healthy the tree looked for its alleged age, and then he sat down, right underneath it.

The first 20 minutes went by slowly, boredom began to sink in and he started singing to himself to pass the time. He could still see his friends in the distance, every now and then he would wave at them to confirm he was still there, then he got up and started circling the tree, an effort to keep both awake and active.

That lasted a whole two minutes before the heavens opened up and the rain slammed down hard, hard enough that it was actually painful on Peter’s skin, so he ran back beneath the apple tree for shelter, strangely the rain did not seem to be over this apple tree, or that it provided excellent shelter.

He could still see his friends in the distance and was baffled as to why they were sat in this rain just to see him complete his dare.

Some people are far too serious!

Suddenly an apple fell down and landed on his head, after being annoyed at first he realised it meant he did not have to pick an apple now, again the apple looked delicious.

How do these apples keep growing?

As he looked up he noticed the branches were starting to move more freely, as if not controlled by the wind, and he started to feel really nervous, on his clock it said ‘25 minutes 37 seconds’ and he realised he was far from completing the dare.

Why did I agree to a whole hour?

Suddenly a branch slapped him in the face.

Wood can’t bend that much!

He stepped back away from the apple tree, as far as he could before touching the rain. Then a branch launched itself at him, and he ran away into the rain to get away, this seemed like the lesser of two evils at the moment.

What the fuck is going on?

He simply thought he was going crazy so he stopped, turned around and slowly moved back out of the rain into the apple tree area, constantly moving around to not give the tree any chance to attack him again.

Am I seriously planning a defence strategy against a tree?

Suddenly a thick branch slammed on the ground and moved around in the same circular motion he was going in, as he was looking at this branch he failed to realise he was walking backwards in the same circle, and another branch wrapped itself around his throat and lifted him high off the ground.

Peter tried screaming for help but it was to no avail, this branch would not let go of his throat and the more he struggled the more air he lost. He was smacking the apple tree branch with everything he had left in him but was getting weaker by the minute.

Why aren’t my friends helping me? Surely they can see this madness!

They were still sat down in the same place, watching Peter and the apple tree, making no signs of moving.

The branch then let go and Peter slammed down to the ground, he had been over a meter high and the fall took a lot out of him. When he gained the strength back he checked his watch ‘31 minutes 42 seconds’.

I’ve had enough of this!

He picked up his stuff and ran, ran so far into the rain. The dead of night made his run harder, he could barely see where he was going as he had not brought his hooded jacket.

So much for the weather forecast, clear skies all night!

Even the night sky looked darker tonight, as if this tree is controlling all aspects of life surrounding the area.

During his run he noticed branches popping up from the ground in the distance, some were raising up to 10 meters in the air, all bending slightly at the top pointing towards him.

Okay, now I’m scared.

One of them slapped him hard and he fell straight to the ground right into the mud, which was now becoming more and more soggy with the ever present rain. More and more branches popped up around him but he struggled, got up and ran away as fast as he could. Face covered in mud. Throat red as blood. Sweat pouring down even harder than the rain on top of his head.

He felt like he had ran for a minimum five minutes before turning round and noticing he was still no more than five meters away from this tree, he stopped and looked at it and screamed ‘why won’t you leave me alone?’ at the top of his voice, and then screamed ‘help! Help! Help!’ in hope his friends would sense danger, he could still barely make them out in the distance, they had not moved a muscle.

Seriously, what the fuck is going on?

He continuously asked himself this as he looked around everywhere, suddenly the ground opened up, like a huge mouth waiting to eat him whole, and he fell down.

As he examined where he was he realised this hole was in the shape of a grave and it was slowly filling up with the rain coming down. As he was trying to climb out the mud was too soggy for him to use well. It didn’t stop him trying to get out though, he knew this hole would fill up very quick. Suddenly a branch came up from under the ground and wrapped around his leg and dragged him down.

Help!

He struggled like crazy to get up back out of the water, and when he managed to sit up he tried to rip off the branch but suddenly another came and grabbed his left hand and pulled that down. He was just about keeping his head above the water.

Another branch then grabbed his throat again and pulled him down beneath the filling water, and after a brief moment of struggle the water calmed down.

Peter had drowned.

The water filled up and the ground hardened up again and then the rain stopped, leaving the ground as flat and calm as when Peter had first arrived at the old apple tree.

Eric, Charlie and Ben then asked themselves why they were sat out at midnight, none of them could remember so they went home. Completely unaware to what has just happened in front of their eyes.

All that remained beneath the apple tree was an apple on the floor, with a mouthful taken out of it.

Five years later the local school’s history class had one extra name on their list of alleged witches that had died beneath this tree hundreds of years ago, Peter Staines.

‘Don’t sit under the apple tree’, a mum said to her young son, Eric, as he was going out with his two friends to play football. ‘I know mum’ he muttered in reply, clearly having been told this warning before.

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