Much has changed in my forest over the past century or so. When Clootie first crossed the Salt Flats as a settler, he was hungry for domination over the land. He lived to devour the life the land gives to all things. He was mortal. We were all too slow, too gentle. But I will write more on this another time. I am in his service and the forest is my priority, even its newest inhabitants, the so-called murder trees. Let me describe to you, first families of Purgatory the price of your ancestors’ betrayal of lord Bulshar.
The tree is as much the victim of Bulshar’s rage as the privileged of Purgatory. Our demonic master imparts his parasitic nature to the fragile seed of the gentle Aspen, corrupting it. Human flesh becomes the first soil, the frantic heartbeat of its frightened host the first rhythm it knows. Blood the liquid that quickens the young tree’s emergence from the safety of its protective shell.
The first shoot opens in the gut with only minor discomfort, not unlike the indigestion you get from eating the cheese fries at Shorty’s. What would normally take weeks, however, unfolds over the course of a few hours. Roots push through the host’s legs seeking the familiarity of neighboring trees and the warm moist embrace of soil. The rush of blood and the racing nervous system of the host panic my infant tree as well. It must reach the forest before the human in which it’s trapped dies. The host, maybe your parent or sibling, even your child, will wander into the forest, leaving one home in search of another.
The land calls to both her children offering the forest floor up to hungry roots and depleted blood. The Quaking Aspen (Populis Tremuloides) is a fast growing tree under normal circumstances, but Bulshar’s corruption perverts the natural processes, cracking the host’s bones and twisting them into heartwood as roots press agonizingly through the host’s feet into the welcoming and horrified forest soil. Ancient parents of our sapling recoil at the aberration, cutting my youngling off from the comfort of its family. Rapidly growing tree joins with dying human, coiling muscle and spine into sapwood for blood, water, and current to flow. Skin transforms into bark, blood vessels and lesser nerves become the phloem for nutrients from the earth and from prey to travel. A fully formed crown with unfurling leaves burst through the arms and skull of your former loved one.
And now the murder tree (Fraxini Homocidium) is hungry….
This will be a 3 part tribute to the landscape of Wynonna Earp. I dunno if this qualifies as fan fiction or not. My Fraxini Homocidium (Murder Ash tree) is certainly sentient and definitely psychopathic. The Quaking Ash is the inspiration for my murder tree. It’s also known as an American Aspen, or White Poplar. The Ash thrives in many climates including those of Montanada. They show up frequently in the cinematography of Wynonna Earp forest scenes. It is the tree that “helps” Doc and Wynonna stop a revenant in Episode 4.
These trees reproduce through their roots primarily, forming colonies of clones. The oldest colony is estimated to be nearly 80,000 years old and lives in S. Utah. Rarely, seeds produce a new organism with different genetics than its parents. Though the seeds are small and not covered by a hard shell–as those favored by Bulshar. I’m taking a little creative license–cause I love me one Aspen tree.
Also thanks Wikipedia and the U.S. Forest Service website for additional information about the Aspen and tree anatomy.