• Published 21st Oct 2014
  • 1,405 Views, 47 Comments

Terror Tales of the Farm - Yoshi89

Join the Apple family as they wrap up Nightmare Night by telling three scary stories.

  • ...

Don't Sit Near the Apple Tree (with Anypony Else but Me)

Author's Note:

This story takes place a few years after Granny Smith's flashback in "Family Appreciation Day".

Many years ago, when I was about your age, Big Mac, Sweet Apple Acres was in its golden era. Oh, me, Auntie Applesauce, my cousin Apple Rose and her little brother Apple Bud here at the farm had it so well, we'd often say we bucked for gold in our orchards instead of apples. Of course, as y'all may know, none of our wealth ever came easy. We still had jobs to do year round and the four of us all did our parts.

My annual job in the last few days before apple bucking season was to inspect the orchards. If any trees were sick, dying or could no longer produce any fruit, we put them on the chopping block. We always had plenty of spare logs to cook with and to keep us warm in the winter but it never hurt to have a surplus. As I was inspecting the far end of the orchard, I happened upon this nasty-looking tree on the top of a hill. Its bark was an unhealthy, peeling black and half of its decaying fiery leaves were already nestled on the cool grass. Many of its apples had fallen off, too, but instead of a plump, scrumptious red, they were a nasty dark purple, almost the color of ink. I pulled a map of the farm from out of my saddlebag and marked a big "X" through that tree with my quill. It was going down.

After I took a gander through the rest of the orchard, I retired to the farmhouse for dinner and to rest up my legs. When I got there, Apple Rose had just finished cooking dinner for herself, Apple Bud and me. Now, they say the way to a stallion's heart is through his stomach but you'd have needed a whole tree of apples to get to Apple Bud. He had one of the fastest metabolisms for an earth pony I ever did see and was so big an eater that once we caught him having his lunch in the hog trough. We still loved him just the same, though, and he was one of our strongest buckers. Of course, I'd be rambling if I said he was as strong as you, Applejack.

"Apple Bud," I said as I watched him wolf down his dinner, "got your ax ready?"

"Another one?" Apple Bud spoke in that innocent drawl of his. "Tenth one this week."

"And the last," I told him. "After that, nothin' to worry 'bout 'cept for the harvest."

"Reckon I should take care of it now," Apple Bud said, trotting off to the door.

"Be careful out there," I warned him.

"Don't you worry 'bout a thing."

Apple Rose came up to me as we watched him go. "You're lucky to have such a brave brother," I said, patting her withers.

"What can I say?" Apple Rose smiled at me. "I love him with all my heart. I'd hate fer somethin' bad to happen to 'im."

"Remember what I told ya before?" I asked her. "Even if they make sauce out of us, we'd still be Apples. I'm sure Apple Bud will be just fine."

We finished our dinner just after sunset for the two of us had to be up the next morning at the rooster's call. If there's one thing we can count on, it's that some things just never change here at Sweet Apple Acres. Apple Rose and I trotted upstairs to our bedrooms, thinking Apple Bud would be back safe and sound later that night. With that ax of his, we reckoned he could hack a timberwolf to wood shavings in the blink of an eye. I climbed into bed, nuzzled into my pillow and found myself in Dreamland chasing a lucky stallion at the Apple Square Dance. I pulled him in and could feel his five o'clock shadow touch my sweet, soft lips when somepony banged on my door.

"Get up!" Auntie Applesauce called me as I kissed into my pillow. "Apple Bud's gone missin'!"

"Be right out, Auntie," I called weakly, rolling out of my bed. I met her and Apple Rose down at the front door. Auntie grabbed a lantern from the broom closet and we walked out into the unforgiving night. "I bet I know where he is," I told my two brethren. "He's supposed to chop down a tree in the northwest corner of the orchard."

"That was four hours ago!" Apple Rose cried. Auntie put down her lantern, faced the two of us and smiled. When Auntie smiled, we smiled, too.

"Hold your ponies, you two," Auntie told us. "We always stay together. I can assure y'all Apple Bud is just fine."

We finally made it to through the orchard fence and the path I took came back to me like the back of my hoof. Auntie and Rose followed me down the dirt path until we came to the hill where I saw the dead tree. The problem was the tree was still there and boy howdy, it darn near scared the cutie marks right off of us. Its branches swatted at us in the night breezes, raining down whatever leaves it had left and I could have sworn I saw a face in its bark glaring back at us. If that tree didn't want us here, it certainly wasn't going to let my cousin cut it down.

"Y'all sent Apple Bud to cut this tree down?" Rose shivered.

"Somethin' happened to 'im," I gulped, "And I reckon we should figure out what." I took one side of the old tree while Auntie and Rose walked across the other. I couldn't find anything suspicious until I stepped on what I first thought was a large stick. I looked down and saw my hoof about an apple's length away from the blade.

That was no stick, it was Apple Bud's ax!

I stared at Auntie and Rose with eyes wider than dinner plates and they stared right back at me. The three of us took one look back at the tree and screamed at the tops of our lungs. We ran like derby racers back to our farmhouse, only we could care less if a brass ring waited for us at the end. I slammed the door behind me, the three of us filling our lungs with air and praying that what we just saw was just a tumbleweed figment of our imaginations.

"Cousin," Rose squeaked. "W-what did that tree do A-Apple Bud?"

Her words chilled me as I looked at her brother's ax. I found no signs of a struggle between him and the tree, no splinters, no blood, no nothing. "I dunno." I finally shook my head.

"Tarnation!" Auntie Applesauce cursed. "I knew I forgot somethin'."

"What?" asked the two of us.

"My lantern!" Auntie replied, shuffling back to the front door. "I'll have to go back and pick it up."

"But Applesauce," Apple Rose clung to her, "you can't go out there by yerself, ya hear?"

My aunt may have been tough as nails but she may have had a few screws loose if she ever considered of going near that tree alone that night. With our lost family member carved deep in our minds, we were not going to let her take any chances. "Yer right, Rosie." Auntie gave up, "I'll have ta take somepony with me."

"I'll go." Apple Rose bravely volunteered. Perhaps it was her brother's courage rubbing off on her.

"And I can hold down the fort," I said.

"We won't be long!" Auntie called to me as she and Apple Rose walked out of the door.

As I heard my cousin and aunt calling Apple Bud's name, I got a call from my empty stomach. I kept promising myself I wouldn't eat late at night but I had to have something quick until they returned. I moseyed on over to the pantry, opened the doors and found this big apple pie staring right back at me, begging to wind up on my flanks for the next two weeks. I kept thinking maybe one slice wouldn't hurt but that one slice turned to two and before I knew it, I had eaten half the pie. As I gobbled down that last forkful, a distant scream rang out on the farm. I rushed over to pick up Apple Bud's ax and bolted back out the front door with a stronger breeze blowing in my face.

"Auntie? Apple Rose?" I took the ax out of my mouth and yelled over the wind. "Y'all okay out there? Ya hear?"

I trotted from an angle of the front door where I could see the orchard but I was running out of time. A terrible storm was brewing for instead of the moon, I saw white flashes beyond the orchard. I hopped from the porch and cantered back to the orchard, using a familiar orange glow as my guide. I reckoned Auntie Applesauce never picked up her lantern and I was correct when I saw it lying amongst some half-eaten apples. I found myself face to face with that same tree again which started groaning in the wind and shaking its limbs at me.

"All right!" I yelled at it. "Y'all wanna play rough? I'm gonna do to ya, what y'all did to my cousins and Auntie Applesauce!"

I stood on my hind legs and grabbed my cousin's ax but lightning forked across the sky behind the tree. Before I could react, a blare of thunder rocked me from my stance and forced me get a better hold of the ax. The tree backed away defensively in the gale but it showed no signs of backing down.

"I'm not afraid of ya, sonny!" I shouted at the tree. "Do yer worst!"

And the tree sure did. It defended itself with a barrage of leaves and twigs in the wind as giant raindrops splattered all around me. I shielded my eyes in an attempt to catch the perfect moment to chop when a giant branch suddenly broke off. I dropped the ax just before it struck me in the barrel, knocking the wind clear out of me. I fell back on some wet leaves and slid down the hill, stopping to grab the root of another tree nearby. The next thing I knew, I felt my coat tingle and my mane stand on end which, let me tell you, is not a good feeling if you're in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Just then, I saw right in front an enormous bright yellow spark and heard the deafening crackles and pops followed by something crashing down near my hooves. I was shaken but I quickly gathered my bearings and hid behind the next-closest tree I could find. Any flames caused by the surprise lightning strike were quenched immediately by the downpour. The first thing I saw after coming out of my hidey-hole was the old tree that had just fallen over. I reckoned the weather factory came to my rescue that day.

The storm ended as quickly as it came for the next thunderclap echoed well past our farm. In no time at all, the rain quieted down and the moon's light poked through the last of the storm clouds, allowing me to check the fallen tree for the first time. I trotted all around it for any sign of my cousins and aunt but all I found was the ax and fallen over lantern. I hung the lantern on the ax which I bit down on and slowly walked back to the direction of the farmhouse. In the time that I was gone, somepony must have gone inside for a pair of lit candles gleamed in the windows upstairs. I cantered back to the house, knocked, and my face lit up like a Hearth's Warming Eve tree when my aunt opened the door.

"Granny Smith?" Auntie gasped at the sight of me soaking wet. "What were you doing out in that storm? You could catch a cold!"

"I'm so glad you're all right," I told her as I grabbed a dish towel and rubbed it through my wet mane.

"Apple Rose is tending to her brother," Auntie told me. "We had to carry him on our backs, beat the storm to get here I might add."

"I-is he okay?" I gulped.

"Take a gander for yourself." Auntie waved me upstairs. We trotted together to Apple Bud's bedroom where Apple Rose had laid him down and wrapped him in some blankets. He was pale and clammy, a slight tint from his faded green coat, but his eyes were wide open and his tongue rolled from his mouth.

"Apple Bud!" I squealed like a pig who had found his favorite mud puddle.

"Shh!" Apple Rose held me back. "Let him rest."

"What happened?" I wanted to know.

"That tree attacked him!" Apple Rose shouted. "I screamed when I saw him just lyin' there."

"So that was you screamin'." I dried off my tail. "Well, ain't nothin' to worry 'bout now. The pegasi took care of that tree."

"For a moment there, I thought you were gone too, Cousin." Apple Rose gave me a hug. That's when I discovered some dark purple apple skin and brownish mush on Apple Bud's chapped lips and dry tongue. I thought back to this afternoon and remembered the apples lying beside the old tree.

"Where did y'all find him?" I asked.

"At the edge of the orchard near some half-eaten apples," Apple Rose replied.

"Didn't those apples seem a little off to ya? Maybe a little discolored?"

"I heard a rumor that one of the trees we planted in the orchard had an Appleloosan disease," Auntie said. "Turns the apples purple and eatin' 'em will make ya sick for weeks."

The three of us looked at Apple Bud drifting off to sleep and facehoofed. If there's one food he could never resist to stop and eat, it was our own dang apples!