Tag Archives: Underneath The Juniper Tree
As promised, my little friend and über fan of Underneath The Juniper Tree and sole human inhabitant of The Forest That Screamstrademarked2011 ;} brings you a thought lost Christmas tale in the vain of Tales From The Crypt and Twilight Zone, both of which I am, myself, a super fan.
Not for the squeamish. I give you…
Mr. Cratz kneeled in front of his son and put his hand to his head. “Franklin, I’ll be back within the hour. Right now is the best time to get a tree…because there is magic in the air,” he said smiling. Cratz smiled and stood to his feet. “What I need for you to do is prepare the setting. You know grab the lining and clear the area near the hearth.”
Franklin nodded with a big smile and watched his father walk out of the front door of the little cabin they called home, deep in the center of the Durst Forest. It was a quaint little abode but they cherished every part of it. Franklin ran to a closet off to the side where they kept the Christmas decorations in storage and rummaged through the scattered boxes until he found the one marked, for the tree. He exhaled and picked it up and began taking out the contents of the box: assorted lights, ornaments, and the soft red cloth lining.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cratz trudged through the snow, axe in hand whistling a holiday tune. He pulled his thick wool jacket tighter around him and tucked his neck into it. He stopped after ten minutes or so and looked to the left and to the right. It dawned on him that for the last few years he had taken a tree from the same area. This year, he would go in the opposite direction-to the uncharted wood. Uncharted at least, for him. Beginning the traditional song, O Christmas Tree, he looked into the sky. The sun had long set and he turned his flashlight on and noticed a sign, old and worn. The words of the sign could no longer be read. He shrugged and walked past the sign and continued into the forest, into a circular clearing, looking at the trees up and down, as he passed.
“Franklin. Which would you pick?” he asked outloud. “Hmm, how bout this one, here? Tall, firm…” he stepped near the fir and sniffed the fresh needles. “I think we’ve found our tree,” he said. He ran his gloved fingers across the blade of the axe slowly and thrust it down hard against the tree. He heard a yelp when he struck the tree. He turned and ignored the sound, shaking his head. “Deer,” he muttered. He gripped the axe once again and struck the tree over and over again until it began to lean. He stood straight and put his hand to his hips and mocked an echo. “Timber, timber, ber, ber…” The tree fell and he proceeded to walk to the “top” of the tree and pull it away from the clearing, passed the sign, and back into the forest, towards the cabin.
The tree was tall but thin, making it easier for Mr. Cratz to pull it through the snow. He reached the cabin with Franklin looking out of the window. Franklin ran to the door and swung it open, with the biggest smile Mr. Cratz had ever seen on him. “I knew you’d love it! Now-let’s decorate her!”
They laughed and shared memories while putting all the decorations on the tree. Mr. Cratz even made Franklin’s favorite hot cocoa. A few hours later they went off to their bedrooms.
“Tomorrow, Franklin Cratz. Christmas Day. Goodnight.”
The morning came and Mr. Cratz awoke to the songs of birds outside his window. The sun had not come out yet. He lay in bed for a few moments and smiled. He would surprise Franklin with his first gift, a homemade slingshot. He got it out from under his bed and walked quietly to the living room, expecting to see Franklin there. Franklin wasn’t there. “Still asleep, huh? I don’t blame you, son,” he said walking to Franklin’s room. He opened the door. Franklin wasn’t there. He frowned and called out to him. “Franklin!” Maybe he wanted to see the first day’s snow, he thought, so he ran to the front door, not noticing the tree and everything on it-gone.
He swung the door open…but Franklin wasn’t there. Mr. Cratz’ eyes opened wide. “Franklin! Franklin!” he screamed. “Franklin!” He ran back inside and nearly slipped on something on the floor. He looked down and saw a nearly dried trail of what looked like blood leading to where he had placed the tree. Quickly he turned and looked outside, following the trail of blood. It was faint and nearly covered in snow but it was there. “Franklin! My boy!” he yelled stricken with panic. He ran outside, barefoot, following the trail. Then he saw something else. A different trail, a fresher one, alongside the one from the tree-leadin away from the house. He ran as hard as he could, following it, breathing hard, his heart heavy with grief over what he might find. The old trail and new trail led back to where he found the tree-the clearing. In the darkness he could see faint lights. He found his way to where the sign was and ran so hard he knocked it down into the snow. When he reached the clearing, he fell to his knees and screamed. A scream that would awaken the long since dead. “F-f-f-frank-franklin??” He stuttered as he began to crawl through the snow. The trail of blood led to his son, who was centered, decorated with beautiful ornaments, tinsel, garland, lights…and the soft red cloth lining, drenched in blood. He turned to the left and saw the tree he had chopped down, in the ground, it’s base covered in needles. He reached for the lining. He pulled it away and what he saw was the final blow to his already damaged psyche. He clutched his chest, and fell into the snow. The trees seemed closer to the center than before…as if they were slowly following and watching him. As his heart continued to sieze, he could hear, faintly, a garbled voice behind him, whistling to the tune of O, Christmas tree, o, Christmas tree…
Back at the Cratz cabin were Franklin’s feet, set close together. He had been uprooted, just as the young tree before him.
The moral of the story? Signs, signs everywhere are signs. Do this! Don’t do that! Can’t you read…the signs?
We continue on with lil Pemberton, the miscreant and resident human in the Forest That Screams…
Pemberton searched high. He searched low.
But he could not find his November Issue, “Oh! Where did it go?”
He has never before been so sad,
save for the day he wandered into the forest, oh, it was bad.
But since then he has found his home
among the ghouls and Gruns…and misshapen gnomes.
Something new and fresh now covered the ground
’twas white and clean and fell with no sound.
The eerie screams from the forest they cried,
“This is the day the keeper of the Forest died!”
The snow began to take shape it did seem,
and now lil Pemberton was beginning to gleam
that the form before him was that of a man!
“So this was my predecessor, the leader of the clan?”
Before they could answer, the spectre, he spoke:
“My, what a pudgy and pale little bloak*!”
Pemberton stepped up to the man, looked at his face,
“This is now my little space!”
“Very well!” the blue tinted man sneered,
in his hands it looked like a book now appeared
Pemberton forgot all about the man’s icey stare,
for now he had the Winter Issue…for all the Forest to share.
Click the brilliant cover.
*thank you, E.
Cruz and Tanís took the streets, Cruz with his radio in hand. Today was the day. Today was the day. Cruz had so much excitement inside he could no longer keep it in. He ran through the alley as fast as his legs would take him.
“Come on, Tanís! Hurry up!”
The clamor on Main Street got louder and louder. Cruz could hear the shouting and his smile widened.
Felizidades! Feliz dia de los muertos! shouted the people in the streets.
Holidays are fun. But for Cruz, this was his favorite. It was a day to remember those who had gone before him. His abuelo* past away only a few months ago. Abuelo would take him fishing, often, and would regale him with stories of the old days. He would recall to Cruz, whom he called with affection Cruzizito, the struggles he had growing up as a Mexican immigrant to the States-and Cruz loved him dearly. He respected him more than anything. His father had died when he was much younger, so Abuelo raised him up until his 12th birthday-the day Abuelo passed. Now he was alone with his little brother, Tanís .
But again, this was the day. He would surround himself with the people celebrating the day with their lost loved ones.
Cruz reached the street and the party was on. People dressed in the traditional festive clothing, men with suits and hats, some marichis and some catrins and the women, in their vestidas, very ornate and beautiful indeed. Others partook in the march to the cemetary in shorts and shirts but none could deny their commitment was genuine. They wore the make-up that was known worldwide-the calacas.
The louder the better! Con goso! They shouted. Cruz was ecstatic. “My feet hurt, Cruz,” Tanís said softly.
“Shh, mira.” Cruz pointed to the many in the streets, and the smell of delicious food filled the air. “Mmm. Abuelo, you smell that? Tanís , remember that was Abuelo’s favorite.”
Tanís nodded sadly. The eight year old lowered his head. “I miss him, too Cruz.” Cruz looked down to him and put his arm ove rhis shoulders. “When we reach the marking, you can help me clean and put some fresh flowers on it, okay?”
The boys made their way to the cemetary and sat near Abuelo’s marking stone, in silence. People started in and out and the sun began to sit. “Abuelo,” Cruz began, holding back his tears. “I have an ofrenda for you. I hope you like it.” He picked up the radio and pressed play. It was one of Abuelo’s favorite songs.
The song finished and Cruz and Tanís stood up. Cruz wiped his tears and started down at the stone.
Nunca me voy a olvidarte.
That was Abuelo’s way. He wanted his stone to read that. To remind them that although he was gone, he would never forget. “Abuelo, we will never forget you.”
By this time it was dark and Cruz decided to head home. “Let’s go, Tanís . It’s getting late. Let’s go.” Tanís yawned and and nodded. “It was a really great gift you gave him, Cruz. I know he loved it,” Tanís said with a smile.
Cruz returned the smile and moved his hand over Tanís’ hair, tossling it a little. As they reached the gates of the cemetary there was a man with a woman walking by. Cruz nodded respecfully to the young couple, dressed exquisitely. The man had on a slim tailored suit and had jet black hair slicked back. He had no make up as many of the others had. The young lady had on a black dress with jewels sparkling all around. In her hair was a beautiful, crimson rose.
“Ha venido a traer una ofrenda, ninos?” The man stopped and asked.
Cruz stopped and turned. “Si senor. You look…” Cruz stopped short. He was in awe of how well-dressed and charismatic the couple looked. Especially the man. The man was tall and lean but looked very strong.
The man smiled. “Que es tu nombre , hjio?”
‘I’m Cruz and this is my little brother Tanís.”
“Bueno, mira. I have a calavera for you, hijos.” He reached in his pocket and handed Cruz a rather old looking pocket watch. He gave to Tanís a pen, embellished with gold.
“Soy un escritor. Tonight is a time to celebrate and give. So I give you these. Pasen buen noche, hijos.”
Cruz nodded, as did Tanis. They smiled at each other and turned to walk away.
“Abuelo used to be a writer, Cruz,” Tanís said with a big smile. Cruz looked at the watch and his eyes lit up. He stopped suddenly and put his hand on Tanís’ chest. A glowing inscription appeared on the back of the watch:
Nunca te olvidare, Cruzizito.
The glowing faded and Cruz turned around quickly, just in time to see the man smiling back at him, nodding and waving good-bye as he vanished into the night air, his lady catrina going with him.
Dedicated to my Welo Bruno Longoria, who went home, almost 17 years ago. machine.
Usually the image should accompany the story but this image is too amazing not to add it. It embodies the end of the story….vanishing from sight.
Matter of fact, it really fits in with a story I wrote called Una Noche Con Los Muertos, but I won’t reveal it just yet. :}.
Dia De Los Muertos by the brilliant PhatpuppyArt.
Thank you, Claudia.
*abuelo is grandfather.
Another calavera I have for YOU is this, the November Issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree! Read on share at will!
When we last saw the boy he was waving good-bye to his family in the ville,
the thought of them afraid of the dark, well it just made him ill!
His story continues with a little poem of sorts
never mind the ghastly GrumGrum beast’s snorts.
Tonight’s the night the ghouls and superhero’s feast!
On treats and goodies, some candy corn…at least.
They will come to the door, and don their disguises,
and better for their candy bag, if they should surprise us.
But one young man, oh, he has no joy.
He has no plan of action or ploy.
See though it be Halloween this night,
And the spirits about will come out to fright,
Lil Pemberton is not smiling, no he is down, he is forlorn
his spirit is remiss, yes, oh yes, it is torn!
for tonight is the last night he can sit and be free
Underneath The Juniper Tree.
The October Issue is going away, along with the dead,
and Pemberton is filled with such dread.
“But wait, young boy,” eerie voices team,
“Remember when you first walked into the Forest That Screams?
There is no need to cry, or pout,
or whine or to shout…”
The voices drew closer and ever closer still
The kind that could be break even the strongest man’s will.
It then continued in it’s haunting, dark speech
and now Lil Pemberton was within it’s cold reach,
“there is most certainly a reason to fear…
The November Issue…is coming, my dear.”
Matter of fact, the Issue is here! Read on and bedefrighted. |m|
10/31> And of course what Hallow’s Eve would be complete without Ichabod Crane. We all now what happened to the poor Mr. Crane* so let us enjoy…happier times.
*or do we?
I kept waking up last night, shivering. The shadows on the wall danced but…they weren’t happy. I heard something outside of the window and hesitated to look. I took a deep breath, got over it and looked. Nothing but the juniper tree hitting against it.
I decided to grab a snack, something small not too heavy. It was 3:33 in the morning after all! I wrapped my robe and scarf tight-it was cold out and the air was creeping in.
I ate my snack and exhaled. “Everything’s good,” I convinced myself then headed back to sleep…and then…I heard a knock at the front door. I opened my eyes and stared at the roof. “Are you kidding me?”
“Who’s there?,” I whispered and swallowed hard.
Silence for a minute or two. Then the tree began tapping the window. Good grief.
Then the knock started again. The rapping made my heart jump!
I had to answer so I jumped up without thinking, casting off the fear like my robe just a few minutes earlier.
I darted for the door and asked loudly, “Who is it! It’s 4:00 in the morning!”
Then the rapping continued…and stopped suddenly.
Why, oh why did I pick this cottage deep in the forest as a suitable place to live? I wondered.
I mustered the courage and told myself I was clearly delusional. Obviously from the lack of sleep. I thought of Poe for some reason and smiled. Enough of this, I thought to myself and started for the room-and the knock got louder. My eyes grew several inches in size and I turned, angry now, and opened the door.
“WHAT?” I yelled.
But there was no one there. I breathed in and out and looked to my feet. The October Issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree was resting on the ground. I stepped out and looked through the trees. But no one was out. The cold air brushed my air and I swear I heard an eerie laughter in it. I bent down to grab the issue just it began to rain. “Great,” I grumbled.
I didn’t see the figure with the pumpkin for a head behind me, in my own house…’til it was too late.
Hello all you writerly folk and beloved readers.
I really need to blog more than twice a week, right? It’s like I shared on Twitter earlier, if you think of a blog post topic, write. it. down. :}.
I’d yet to share this here.
Underneath The Juniper Tree, the online children’s lit magazine specializing in horror and scary things are constantly challenging writers and artists in creating newness. That is, new stories and art and they do it in a way that makes it so much fun. Seriously. I’ve had a great time in just a short time taking part in some of these brilliant “go for it’s”.
Matter of fact I am honored and syked to share with you all that a submission of mine won and will be featured in what is sure to be one of the best issues-the Halloween Issue. The prompt was, basically, end the story with this line:
“See you in St. Germaine!” She laughed as her eyes clouded over.
I thought about it for a second or two and the idea came to me. And…it won. That really is awesome. I’d also like to congratulate again, artist and new Friend, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, or as I call her E, on her win for art! Thank you @UnderTheJuniper and JuniperTreeLit for choosing my words to be a part of the scary!
I’ve submitted other shorts and again, they’ve been really fun to write.
I’m syked about this as well:
Literary Asylum, in cahoots with UTJT and Walden Pond Press are throwing a really cool contest and offering up some really pleasing prizes. You owe it to yourself to enter and do this. Check the link for all of the details and get in this.
I sat there for a few and asked myself, “Okay. What you got?” I answered with two paragraphs(part of the contest guidelines) and I really liked what I came up with. It was an exercise in writing, of course, but because of this prompt, I have since taken notes and started outlining/creating an entirely new book. I know, I believe, it will see the light…or night after the day. Word.
The upcoming Issue Of Underneath is sure to blow your mind…all over the wall. Check the September Issue and don’t forget to replace that night light bulb before the sun goes down.
He looked up at the sky and shouted to the clouds, “You said this wouldn’t happen again!” Then looked down at all the bones.
–Marjorie Merle, Underneath The Juniper Tree
That is seriously one of the best things I’ve ever read. Truly. For me as the reader it conjures an image of a man crying out to God. I can see it. That’s what great writing does.
See over the weekend on The Twitter, the epic hosts of the online blog and magazine Underneath The Juniper Tree invited all to write their very best short, and I mean short (140 characters) story. The darker and more twisted-the better. I put my knit writing cap on and it refused to be taken off! It was really fun and Marjorie and Tex showed the love. I thanked them for the chance of course and…I read so many great short stories!
Ahhh, Writers. Am I write?
So here I would like to share today a few of mine and maybe one or two of the others.
Note: they are all “dark” in nature.
As I walked into the valley of the shadow of Death I feared not his evil. My sword & my shield fought with me. I am he who killed Death! <new story I will “commence”. Continue reading
Okay folks. Have you seen the Nick cartoon Making Fiends? Well get that, some Shel Silverstein…then mix in some serious spook…and broil it at a temperature that will melt your face for four hours-you get Underneath the Juniper Tree.
This is one of my summer finds and it’s seriously cool.
Their contests are fun and challenging and lemme tell ya-they make me want to further my writing-all over again. I’m writing a horror short called Obey about kids and scariness…so this is perfect.
Did I mention the art? Continue reading