• Fraser du Toit

The Fearful Orange


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Such horrors have I witnessed during my journey that I wish nothing more than to return to the tree. My words of warning have consistently fallen on deaf ears. Now it is too late to turn back, and I am left to witness the inevitability of my vindication.

The tree nourished me. Fresh life flowed freely into my body, filling it with the sweet juice that is my birthright. I hung with my siblings in exquisite peace. We absorbed knowledge directly from Mother Root, and we knew it to be the truth of the universe.

My doubts began then when I detected a hint of falseness. Mother Root promised that one day we would be taken from the sheltering tree. We would undergo changes, evolving through phases, finally, we would grow into trees ourselves.

The day of plucking came all too soon. What I thought were trees at first turned out to be hideous mutants. They seemed vaguely fruitlike, but moved without the caress of the wind. These eldritch abominations roughly tore my siblings from their branches. I was overcome with terror, much to the annoyance of those nearest me.

My turn came, and I was plunged into a dark box, tightly packed in with my simple brethren. They chattered excitedly about the change, while I quietly brooded on the sense of wrongness permeating my being. I tried voicing my apprehension, but was swiftly rebuked by my siblings. Had I not heard the words of Mother Root?

The box was moved as if by a storm-wind. We were jostled roughly in our cardboard prison before light found us again. This wasn’t the sun’s healing light. Cold light bathed a stark white space filled with infernal machinery. We tumbled out of the box and onto a steel conveyor.

Once more, my siblings discussed the types of trees they wanted to be. Hopeful fools! Nothing about our predicament was natural!

The conveyor led us to a gaping metal maw filled with probing tongues. We were each tested by those hideous feelers. Those found to be malformed were jettisoned unceremoniously. I remember their confused comments as they disappeared into a dark hole. They went willingly, believing that they would be remade whole.

My turn came, and I fell into a red-mesh bag. Only one of my siblings joined me. The rest of the bag was filled with strangers. I expressed my concern to these strangers, only to discover that they too had been fed the tree’s lies.

Our bag was once more cast into darkness by the moving soft-trees. Many other bags were packed atop our own, and it felt as though I would be pulped. The darkness began to rumble as the others spoke excitedly of the great change coming. I know not how long I languished in that dark hole.

My internment came to an end with a crack of sunlight hitting my skin. More of the deformed beings unloaded us from the rumbling prison. The others referred to them as ‘angels’.

I was released from the bag and put on display in a frigid space. Stacked upon several of my bag-mates, I had a good view of this cold hell. The whiteness of it reminded me of the room with the tongues, but here I saw many other fruits.

These fruits had all been fed the same lies. I attempted to warn them that none of this was natural. They would simply retort with, “Why would Mother Root lie?”

I became a pariah of the fruit-stack. They shunned me for my beliefs, and I shunned them for their ignorance.

More of those fleshy trees appeared soon enough. They were accompanied by smaller versions of themselves. My companions cheered as they approached. Cries of religious rapture went up as some were taken.

I myself was lifted and inspected many times before I was chosen. Several other fruits and even some vegetables joined me in the vessel carried by the thing. We were guided through some inscrutable ritual by a pair of the creatures before being taken out into the sunlight once more. My heart sank, for I knew deep within that I would never see that light again.

The being that chose us took us to its lair. I was placed on a hard stone surface along with a few of the others. Those that weren’t chosen cheered for us as we went. My pulp wept in fear.

Soon another fruit was selected from among those upon the slab. This fruit was ululating with joy as it was washed by the creature. I watched in horror as it was placed upon a raised dais. Glee turned to agony as a large blade sank into its flesh. Rind fell from the pulp as the monstrosity ripped it open.

I want to go back to the tree, I thought as the thing grasped me in its tentacled appendage.