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30 October, 1998
revised 28 June 2003
Victory was finally in his grasp.
Russell Q. Adams III, Rusty as he was called by his friends, was going to spend this weekend in the forest personally picking out the giant redwoods to cut down next week. He had worked twenty years to make this happen. He had fought back at the trees, at the environmentalists, the government, and the rest of the world. All of them seemed to defy him and dare hi not to succeed. However, this weekend was his special camping trip to plan the cutting of the redwoods, all of them, every last one.
He was his father's son. Everybody said so. He had taken over his Father's lumber company after his father died when he was 16 and had run it as ruthlessly as his old man had done. He had blamed the environmental movements for killing his father death. The environmentalists had put a platform on one of the giant redwoods and because of that, the tree had been hit by lightning. The steam blast from the tree had killed his Father. If the environmentalists had not been in the tree, his father would be alive.
It was going to be a wonderful Friday night. He had set up camp in the oldest stand of giant redwoods remaining in the US. On Saturday morning, he would mark these trees with an "x" and the following Monday, they would be cut to provide redwood shingles for his latest land development. The sky was clear and the moon was full. Owls screeched in the background. Frogs croaked their merry song. Crickets all around him chirped their late summer songs. Enjoy it, all of you, it's the last weekend you spend out here he thought with an evil glee as he crank up the portable generator to turn on the floodlights and light the clearing.
The generator started with a loud roar and all around the clearing banks of lights blazed like the noonday sun. Nocturnal creatures all around scurried away from the artificial sun. Man had declared his dominion over the night and the animals of the field. Rusty punched a few switches and loud music blared from speakers located in the lights. Silence had been replaced by noise. Rusty surveyed his handiwork and laughed aloud at the scampering he had caused.
He had made camp in a large clearing about 100 feet wide and nearly as long. A stream ran along the eastern edge of the clearing forming a pond of nearly indescribably beauty. Rusty had been surprised that no trees were growing in the clearing and had made his camp there to start his survey on Saturday. He was tired from work, travel, and setting up camp. He had set up this camp all by himself. He wanted the glory of destroying this forest and had sent all the yes-men, the workmen, and the lumbermen home for the weekend. His hired guards guarded the edges of the forest so no one could disturb his weekend work. Now he was going to take a swim in his pond and go to bed for the night.
He had no reason for modesty tonight. He merely took his clothes off and stood in the middle of the clearing bare-ass naked. He took a few steps from his clothes and pissed on the ground in symbolic defiance. He was a very fit and youthful thirty-six years old. He took pride in the daily exercise routine that made him two hundred pounds of rock hard muscle. He had startling blue eyes, handsome features, and a marble-white complexion. From his middle twenties he had worked as a model and had shaved all his body hair. However, in recent years, he had concentrated on his goal of harvesting this forest and had let his body hair grow out. He was covered with fiery-red hair all over his body, from his close cropped head, to his feet. His friends told him that his fine red hair looked like a fur coat. Tonight, it was his only clothing as he strutted around the clearing declaring his mastery of the world.
He walked into the small pond and started splashing around. The bottom of the pond was soft and squishy and felt good between his feet. In the middle, the pond was deep enough to swim. The water was cool and exhilarating. He swam, played, and splashed for about a half a hour relaxing in the water and exercising the office out of his body. When he was satisfied with his himself, he rolled over on his back and floated in the water. He could see the mud from the bottom of the pool was halfway up to his knees and he just kicked it off. The mud felt so good as he squished it between his toes while rubbing his foot against the opposite leg. He decided to treat himself to a mud bath. Like a good little piggy.
That's what the environmentalists had called him, "A good little Piggy." Rusty reached the bank and covered the rest of his body in mud. Cool, soothing mud. It made his skin tingle. He spread it all over his body. He played like a kid in it, splattering mud everywhere. Rusty had been playing in the mud for a short time when he noticed a youth standing in the middle of the clearing, picking up his clothing. The youth appeared to be about fourteen. He had a slim build and could not have weighed more than eighty pounds.
This kid wants to steal my clothes, thought Rusty.
Rusty left the water like a shot and was quickly walking towards the kid. His muscular body was still covered with dark brown mud from the pond. He splashed mud and water as he moved to the middle of the clearing. As he neared his clothes, he noticed that the youth wasn't wearing clothes, but he wore what appeared to be a suit of green leaves. Even his hair seemed green.
"You won't be needing these clothes anymore," said the youth.
"Hell if I won't! Just who do you think you are?" Rusty demanded.
"No, you definitely won't be needing these clothes anymore," repeated the youth.
Rusty had reached the kid and towered over him by nearly a foot. He wanted to beat the youth into oblivion with his fists, and took a swing at the kid only to miss. Rusty decided to kick the youth, but his feet were covered with slick mud and he spun around and landed on the ground. Dirt and leaves stuck to his wet and muddy skin.
"Now there is no need to fight, Rusty. I didn't visit you to fight," said the youth.
"Why are you here then? You little thief!" Rusty yelled at the kid.
"No, I don't want to steal your clothes, just borrow them for a time. I'm giving you one more chance not to cut the trees in this forest. It's your last chance to save yourself. I won't let you cut these trees," said the youth.
"You and what army are going to stop me, you skinny little twerp! Nothing is going to stop me from cutting this forest. Not you, Not anyone." Rusty snidely answered.
Rusty regained his feet and tackled the youth. The young man was larger and stronger than he thought possible. The man and boy grappled and wrestled engaged for several minutes in futile mud wrestling. Finally, the youth disengaged himself and stood in the middle of the clearing. Rusty was breathing hard from the exertions of the wrestling. Rusty spoke out loud, half to himself and half to the youth:
"Why am I wrestling in the moonlight with a silly boy. Monday the lumber men will cut every tree here and you can watch while they do it."
"Then you have sealed your own fate. I cannot change what happens next," said the youth.
"Oh, get a life and get lost." Said Rusty as he tried to turn and leave. However, something was holding his feet to the ground. He lifted both feet in the air, trying to shake the mud and leaves form them but roots had grown out of his toes and heels and were visibly growing into the ground beneath him. Rusty looked at his mud covered feet in amazement as he tried to stand on one foot then the other and finally had to balance on two feet. The roots were holding him to the ground. .
"What's happening to me? What have you done?" he demanded of the youth.
"You cut my trees. You disturbed my forest. You went swimming in my pool, covered yourself with my mud. So, I placed an enchantment on you. I could have let the pond drown you. But I decided to turn you into giant redwood."
Rusty stared at the youth in amazement. The youth continued:
"Your name was so wonderful, "Rusty" describes exactly what you look like. Your marble white skin covered with your flaming red hair, and those beautiful muscles. You're beauty is so rare. Like my forest creatures. I guess that I fell in love with your body and because of that I decided to teach you the error of your ways."
"It's not possible to turn into a tree! This can't be happening!" Rusty yelled.
The youth did not answer, but came and stood so close to Rusty that he could feel the youth's breath on his cheek and his heartbeat against his chest. Then, Rusty felt energy flowing into his body, as the youth seemed to step inside him. They occupied the same space. Rusty not only felt the youth inside his boy, but also felt the forest inside the youth. It was all there within the youth, the trees, the animals, the bird and even the insects. All of them were one with this boy. The youth separated his chest and shoulders from Rusty' chest and shoulders and looked straight into Rusty' eyes.
"You felt the forest, so you know it is possible. Look at your feet, they are turning to wood and bark and growing roots. You can't cut down the trees if you become one." The youth said in a soft voice.
Rusty looked back at the youth and said:
"Please don't do this to me, I'll do anything for you, absolutely anything. I have money beyond your wildest dreams; I can make this forest a sanctuary. You can have it all. I'll become your slave. I'll do anything you want. Just let me go."
By this time, the bottom of Rusty' feet were completely rooted to the ground. The wood crept halfway up his calves to his knees. Rusty reached out, pulled the youth towards him, and held him tightly.
"I'll do anything for you. Please let me go. I'm afraid of this. I'm not ready. I will do anything you want. Oh please stop this," pleaded Rusty.
"I'm not going to hurt you. Please understand that, Rusty. Do you still want to destroy the forest after you felt it just now? Would you support the creatures of the forest I hold precious?" asked the youth.
"Yes! Yes! Just let me go. I will stay with you, I will do what you want, and I will call off the lumbermen. I'll become your slave if you want. Anything! Just let me live. I don't want to die." Rusty pleaded harder.
"But you aren't going to die, Rusty." The youth smiled and laughed at Rusty.
"You will live a very long life as a tree. Longer than I can live in any human body. I'm only going to use your body for a hundred years. And after that time, I will return to remove the enchantment let you become human again."
"So I will be a tree for a hundred years? How can you say I'll be safe? What about Monday when the lumberjacks come to cut the trees?" asked Rusty.
"With your body I can prevent the lumberjacks from cutting the trees. And with your company and your wealth, I can preserve this forest for hundreds if not thousands of years." The youth answered.
"Is that what you want; to keep me, alone in the woods for a hundred years? I won't survive it. I can't stand to be alone," argued Rusty.
"I will always be here. I was here when prehistoric man first set foot in this forest. I am the spirit of the forest. I can't grow old and neither will you, Rusty. I will keep you young. Look at your hands Rusty, the change continues."
Rusty was still holding the youth and looked at his hands behind the youth's back. Small branches and leaves were growing out of the tips of his fingers. He shook his hands to try to shake the new growth off, but it would not leave. Rusty looked at his legs and saw that he had become wooden halfway up his thighs. His legs and feet were growing bigger and heavier to support him. Heavy roots were joining him and his legs were thickening into one trunk. Rusty felt his thighs stiffen and grow wooden.
"Why me? Why are you doing this? Why? Please make it stop!" Rusty cried softly. Tears poured down his face.
"Because the forest loves life and cherishes it. The forest wants you to love it. You are going to become our greatest friend and protector, the giant redwood. You will be home for many generations of creatures. They will love and worship you. What more could you want?" said the youth.
"But I'm afraid I will forget what it is to be human. I don't want to be a tree forever. I want to move and be free. I am so afraid." Rusty' half-human frame was wracked with his sobs. Twigs and branches growing out of Rusty' hands and he could feel that his legs had fused. The change was progressing up past his hips.
"Trust me, Rusty. I will return and change you back. Nevertheless, you must accept this change. If you fight the change, you will spend your time as an ugly bent tree. If you accept the change in your heart, then you will become a giant redwood and protect the forest far and wide. Will you accept this fate?"
Rusty' face touched the youth's face. He wrapped his arms around the youth and held him tightly. Rusty replied in a shaky voice:
"Yes, I will accept it. I give you everything I have."
The youth kissed Rusty and then raised Rusty' arms to the sky.
"The change will be easier if you stand like this. You want to be straight and tall. It is easier if you stay this way. Look! See how your new trunk is growing. The transformation will reflect what you feel in your heart," said the youth.
Rusty looked down and saw a that his torso was becoming the great tree trunk of living wood. He watched as rings of redwood and bark formed around his body. He felt his arms grow straighter and higher as he held them over his head. He was indeed becoming a redwood.
"If this is what I must do, then I'll try my best." Replied Rusty in a determined voice.
The youth's spirit shape twisted and turned within Rusty' new body. Rusty could feel much of his human body being transferred over to the youth. He could see the youth assuming the shape of his human body.
Rusty saw a strapping young man with marble white skin and flaming red hair, standing next to Rusty, the giant redwood. The youth felt his new body.
"Take care of that body, I want it back." Rusty said to the youth.
"It is as fine a body as the one you will become," said the youth.
Rusty felt the change move into his chest and felt his lungs change. He no longer breathed through them, but his arms had become branches with sufficient leaves to breathe through them. He felt the living wood reaching through his chest and ribs, surrounding his heart. Rusty had decided to accept his fate completely. He focused all the power of his mind towards becoming giant redwood tree. He felt his heart change, as it became heartwood. His heartwood spread through the length and breadth of the tree. Rusty felt the change spread quickly through his new body. It spread up his shoulders and into his arms that were reaching high in the air. Rusty felt his new body stretch toward the sky and become nearly 150 feet high. He felt the wind and the clouds brush him.
Rusty became aware of the forest and all living things in it. He heard the birds singing to each other. He felt the animals scampering and he even found the lowly ants living in the ground. No creature escaped his new consciousness.
Rusty became aware of his new body growing stronger and larger, from his trunk up through his new branches and leaves and all along his great height. Rusty was no longer human, but had become a living tree. He could feel the wind in his branches and his roots in the ground. He grew stronger and taller. Time would no longer be measured in minutes for him. Time would have meaning in months and seasons and years. Rusty became aware of the countless creatures that were going to live in his forest. He was their guardian. This was his proper place in the world. A strong, sturdy redwood had replace the man so bent on destruction.
Rusty turned his attention to the youth standing against him. He could still feel the youth in his old body. Rusty let go of this part of his consciousness and became the tree.
The youth stood in the middle of the clearing at the base of a new giant redwood. His outward appearance had changed. He had lost his green and brown garb and had taken on Rusty' human form. Air flowed into his lungs and hot blood raced through his body. He remembered what it meant to be human. Human emotions and feelings burnt through his consciousness. Human life was short and hot; forest life was long and cool. He picked up Rusty' clothes, walked to the campsite and turned off the loud music and the lights. It was a full moon that lit the clearing in a soft white light.
The youth would take Rusty' place in the human world to save this forest. The lumberjacks would not cut anything this Monday. The youth in Rusty' form would tell them not to do that. Rusty' human friends would think that he had undergone some dramatic change that weekend in the forest and they would be correct. They would never suspect.
The youth planned to use Rusty' wealth and power to save the forest for the next thousand years. After that time, when this new human body had grown old, he would return to the pool and use the power of the forest to renew his body and return it to Rusty. Perhaps he would remain human, perhaps not. That was many years away. Time enough for his work to be completed, and time enough for Rusty to have learned the lessons of the forest.
3235 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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