• Published 30th Jul 2018
  • 2,998 Views, 356 Comments

Family Tree - miss-cyan

Getting cryptic notes from dead relatives is never a good thing. This was no exception. What are you supposed to do when someone wants you to solve a mystery when there's something out in the woods? That turns out to be the least of my problems.

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The Unexpected

My fridge was stocked and my mail was out to the post office, but the whole day I of course thought of the new, gigantic secret in my life. Every person I walked by all day, every store clerk, every pedestrian, I wondered if they had any idea of what was going on in their small town. Half of me wanted to tell somebody, anybody what I’d seen. But who would believe me? I couldn’t even tell my parents or Mason. I knew the things I’d found were real, but any rational person would react like I did at first and deny it all.

And what would I stand to gain from telling? Being pitied, people thinking I was mentally unstable? Being treated like a basket case by everyone around me?

Been there, done that, thank you very much.

There wasn’t even any guarantee I would find that horse, or any other horse or pegasus or unicorn, again to back up my claims. Myths were myths for a reason. If I were a talking horse and I saw something that made me scream like that in the woods, some…monster, I’d run for the hills and hope it never found me again.

God, as scared as I was, I’m not a much smaller herbivore. That one was terrified of me. They all would be…

Something about the way it looked at me told me that it had never seen somebody, something like me before. Maybe it was because we had the same reaction to each other. I wasn’t very comfortable being some horse’s boogeyman. If I went back looking for anything to prove my story, who’s to say that they wouldn’t be waiting for a monster. To be afraid of, or maybe even waiting to strike.

“Because that’s what people do when they meet a monster, isn’t it?” I scratched my head, frustrated with this new line of thinking. “They round up a posse, torch and pitchforks, and they teach it not to scare one of their own.”

Once again, not comfortable being a boogeyman.

I sighed, head in my hands. My options were becoming more limited by the moment.

“Can’t tell anyone, can’t convince anyone, at this point, I don’t even care what’s in that book because it’s certainly not going to be good news…I feel like that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. And in all likelihood, it’s probably in the same writing from the picture and gibberish to me. It's too tightly sealed to even take a peak inside.”

That book. It sat there on the table, still oddly puzzling.

"Anybody who went through this much trouble to keep a book unread must have a reason. I'm not gonna be some dumb horror movie teenager that reads from the scary book and unleashes ultimate evil, thank you. Going out of your way like that is just asking for trouble..."

There was a loud knock on the front door. It snapped me back to the real world and I quickly put everything back in the box and stuffed it into the cabinet under the kitchen sink.

Who’d be here in the middle of the day?

There was another knock before I made it to the front door. I peeked behind the little curtain on the front door's window to see Mrs. Russo holding a round dish.

“Mrs. Russo?” I asked, unlocking and opening the door. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Well I called, twice, but you never picked up. And this pie was gonna be done regardless so I figured you were just busy moving in.”

I pulled my cellphone from my pocket, indeed seeing two missed calls and a voicemail.

“Ah. Sorry about that. Been a long day.” I held open the door for her, letting her and the pie inside.

“I’ve always hated unpacking.” She frowned at all the boxes in the living room. “Makes you look at every single thing you own and wonder how it got there. Like, when did I buy all these spatulas? Now I have to unpack every last one of ‘um.”

That got me to smile. All the stress in the world didn’t stand a chance against one witty old lady.

“I never realized I owned so many yards of fabric until now.” I laughed. “Like I remember the trips to the fabric store but how much pill-free fleece does one person need, Lottie? Geez.”

“Oh, but I’ve always loved the little buggers you make. I still have the one you made me for Christmas when you were nine. The teddy bear in the Santa hat?

“The one with the barrel chest and the freakishly long arms.” I groaned, remembering how perfect I had thought I’d made it as a kid. “I remember that monstrosity.”

“Oh, hush.” She laughed, setting the pie on the kitchen table. “You were proud of it, as you should've been. Everybody loves those things, especially the little ones in your family.” She rummaged through the drawers, looking for something to cut the pie with, finding a knife eventually. “It’s your craft. Like me and baking.”

I sulked a bit, sitting down for pie regardless. Mrs. Russo owned the bakery here. Everyone who lived in town wouldn't even consider buying bread or cakes from the chain stores in the city. Her craft could keep her bills paid. “I can’t support myself on stuffed animals and the occasional toy, when I can afford the materials. I like doing it, and it makes me happy, but it’s a hobby.”

She cut me a slice and gave me a pat on the back. It was chocolate cream pie, my absolute favorite.

“Hobbies are one of life's little joys, kiddo. Doing something you love, even only sometimes, makes the rest of the stuff you have to go through a little better. It's important to you and that's what counts."

When I was a teenager, my lack of career goals bothered my dad to no end. He constantly lectured me about how important it was to study hard and make something of my life. And I tried, back then. I tried to do anything that might seem good enough for him. But when I kept failing I always felt like such a disappointment. When I stopped trying, I felt like a disappointment. It was a no-win situation and I was miserable no matter the outcome.

And then, after all the crap that happened, I just...froze.

"So, how was your first night?" she asked, taking another bite of pie. Mulling over my answer, avoiding certain obvious topics, I tried to get my feelings out in a way anyone could've understood.

"It's quieter than I'd like, makes everything super loud and conspicuous. The stairs don't creak as bad as when I was in high school, he must've fixed those...He kept this place in pretty good shape, I'm lucky. With my part-time salary, I'd never be able to keep up with maintenance on my own." I generally just sounded annoyed now, as I thought about all the new house responsibilities I'd need to keep track of now. And I think she noticed because she had gone a bit still. I floundered, trying to explain so I didn't sound so terrible.

"I know it's...awful of me. To complain about my job. Or this house. Or anything, really. And I am grateful. But..."

She kept listening, she didn't move a muscle.

I would think this stuff is obvious by now...but I am in my own head a lot.

"I'm just kind of...stuck." I sighed. "I don't have any plans for anything in the future so there's never anything to look forward to. The days just kind of blend together and then one day it's like "Whoops, another year's gone by..."

"I'm not...happy. I have no reason to feel like crap like...ninety percent of the time, but I do. Even if I wanted things to change, I don't know what would make it better. I don't know what I have to do to be happy and...it's driving me nuts. So I just...exist. I eat, I sleep, I work and sometimes I sew. I find a rare few things that make me happy, but they're just...so far apart."

"I don't like to think about the future, when I don't know where I belong in it."

She thought for a moment. I didn't expect her to slide me a second slice. My laugh was almost a foreign sound to me. Her solutions to my troubles was almost always more pie.

Her hug was not unwelcome. Hugs were the other solution.

With everything that was going on, worrying about my old problems almost felt cathartic. Like nothing in my life took the strangest of turns the last day or so.

"Push comes to shove, you can always come work at The Brick Oven. I don't know if it'll be any better for you personally than the hardware store, but it's been good to me." She smiled and patted my back a little. "Everything will work out fine."

I sighed, not knowing how a pie delivery visit turned into a therapy session. There weren't any magic words to fix my whole deal, but Mrs. Russo never stopped trying. And I appreciated it.

She's the best.

We ate a reasonable amount of pie and she stuck the rest in the fridge, and I thanked her for her nice visit and delicious treat.

“Now, don’t be a stranger.” she smiled, grabbing her jacket from the back of her chair. We hugged goodbye and she headed home.

This. This was one of the rare things that made me happy. Just a normal good time with somebody who genuinely liked me. I could have a day like that with Mason, and Mom, and even Dad, surprisingly. No friends but, if I was being honest and uncharacteristically optimistic, that could always change. And maybe someday...I'd meet a girl who I could have good times with too. Somebody who was just fun to be around and liked me for me.

Not that I'm ready to jump into that again any time soon... I thought, shaking off old feelings. I wasn't about to start thinking about that whole mess again.

My family looked at me differently after last time, treated me different. They were wary about what they said, how they said it, certain things were taboo around me for a while. Even Stacy avoided choice conversation topics like the plague, and she was at least cool about it for the most part.

“Nope. Never again.”

This ordeal wasn’t going to upset my whole life. I grabbed the box from under the sink and got my boots on.

I didn’t have the heart to just destroy any of it, not when it was Grandpa’s last wish of me to find it, but I had a way to put everything back to normal and keep my conscious clear.

“I did what you asked Grandpa, I dug up your mystery box. Great secret that I’m gonna keep locked away in my brain forever and never tell anyone, not even in a cryptic note.”

I grabbed the shovel from the garage, regretting the fact that I’d refilled the hole. Yesterday Lottie swore never to go back out to these woods. But as long as I didn’t go too far in and run off in a blind panic like last time, the probability of horse interaction was slim. At least I desperately hoped.

The closer I got to the woods, the more determined I got to follow through with it. I wasn’t scared, or nervous, or frustrated anymore. Just a little…disappointed. In myself.

“I know this is what you wanted, Grandpa.” I sighed, finding the freshly-dug hole and sticking the shovel into the much looser dirt. “But this will cost me more than I’m willing to pay for some…mythical creature observation.”

A few more shovelfuls, nobody answering me or trying to stop me. Good.

“It’s not like it would’ve worked out for anybody. You should’ve seen the way it looked at me. We’re both better off forgetting the other exists, probably.”

More quiet. No objections from me, or a ghost, or a horse.

“I’m not gonna be some monster. I’m not gonna go looking for trouble when trouble has always been perfectly capable of finding me, thank you very much.” More dirt.

Maybe I should bury it deeper? I thought, pushing the shovel down again.

“Maybe if things had gone differently, it could’ve worked. But they didn’t, so it can’t. I’m scary to them, and they’re pretty damn upsetting to me.”

Still no response.

“So, I’m going home, and I’m gonna do my best to pretend none of this ever happened. And I TRIED so you can’t haunt me, or make me feel guilty. I’m going home, and I’m never coming back!”

I should’ve noticed. It was just like last time.

Not a sound.

Then something grabbed me.

My whole body was jerked by my ankle suddenly, sending me backwards into the dirt. I screamed, kicking at whatever had me but it grabbed my other ankle too. I was being dragged further into the woods.


It was vines. So many ivy vines working as one, alive and hellbent on killing me, I had to assume. I kept getting dragged farther in as it snaked its way up my body. I felt errant rocks and roots in the path scrape up my back as it dragged me, kicking and screaming the whole way.


I tried to rip at it with my hands but more just replaced whatever I ripped away. We slowed to a stop as the vines got further and further up towards my head, and soon we reached where they had grown from. I violently thrashed against it, but they were up to my neck. Soon I couldn’t even scream anymore.

Then, the most indescribable sensation of pain and violent sickness overcame me, in that horrifying dark. My entire body was on fire and it felt like my organs were trying to force their way out of me. All I could see were stars.

Then nothing.

I woke up screaming.

I curled into a ball, tears running down my face. The pain was gone but the memory was still fresh. I tried to catch my breath but every new lungful of air was desperately needed. Had I stopped breathing?

“Holy fuck…No, what the actual fuck was THAT!?” I shouted. My eyes were still closed. I couldn’t feel the vines on my body anymore but I didn’t trust them not to be there. My limbs were weak and I could barely move. I just laid there on my back, trying to get my mental bearings.

The bright sun was there, even though my eyes are closed. It beat down on me, and I was already sweaty and uncomfortable from the pain. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, using quite a bit of energy to turn my head away.

That whole...experience...it was yet another impossible thing. But this wasn't something I could ignore or forget. This was the last straw.

“I gotta…gotta get home. No more…No more of whatever bullshit I’ve gotten myself into…”

I reached up to wipe the tears out of my eyes but something connected with my face, something foreign. I flinched and waited for some other terrible thing to touch me, but it never came. So, against my better judgement, I opened my eyes.

Against the bright sunlight, something was hovering over me.

A hoof.

Attached to my body.

You can bet there was more screaming.

Author's Note:

pie fixes everything

that profanity tag really kicks in here

if you were hoping for a story where the human doesn't get turned into anything, so sorry. but there's plenty of story, and twists ans turns left, so i hope you'll stick around

releasing chapters 3&4 together since 3's the shortest.

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