Hello once again, on this fine Sunday (or whatever thereof) and also on the first day of this month, May (or wherever thereof). To commemorate the coming of May, I’m actually posting. With a short story that holds true to my heart, because I would like to say that I’m a strong advocate for the environment. Though, my actions do not always show true to that standard, I do hold the environment as something dear. It’s important to me and everyone else and I’ve had a strong affinity for it. Nature is beauty, and without nature, there is no earthly connection anymore. We lose a part of ourselves once we lose nature. And these concepts are ones that I want to capture in short stories. Not so much this one, but, we’ll see. Anyway, here you go, “The Last Tree On Earth”.
The world is as green and grey as it ever has been, and I stood in the middle of it all. I caressed the brown rough bark with my hand, and only stopped when a tinge of blood trickled down my palm. Another splinter. I reached behind my back and took out a small spray that had been lodged into my pocket. I pressed the top of it onto my palm, and then reached into my front pocket for my handkerchief. I wrapped it around my hand and then continued my morning ritual. After I had made a full circle around the trunk of the tree, I settled down, and laid on its back, with my face towards the large ornament sun. The large white clouds hung above me, and they moved ever so slowly, attempting to lull me into a state of reverie. The gentle breeze of the wind shaved the weariness off my face, and as I took a deep breath in, I felt as if I had lived in the soil for a century.
“You’ll be under there soon enough.” A voice beckoned to me. It was not a voice that existed within my current state of affairs. It was not within any vicinity of my actual being, but the voice was undoubtedly real. I looked at my wrist, and a hologram appeared in front of me. It was of a man, with clean slicked back golden hair, a suit and tie, and the features of a capitalist. Except, he wasn’t a capitalist.
“Doing your routine inspection, officer?” I answered to the man.
“Shouldn’t come as a surprise to you now.”
“It didn’t. Just a bit bothersome. For the both of us.” He was at the ripe age of forty, and I was much, much younger than him. I had no suits, no ties, and my hair was scraggily. The only thing special about me was my characteristic blue eyes.
“It is a bit bothersome–”
“For you to keep that old relic alive.” I never expected any less from this officer.
“Well, if everything is fine, then I’ll be going.” I reached my hand over to my wrist, where a small watch projecting the hologram was strapped, and pressed the red button to dismiss the virtual call. I sighed again, and then got up and began trudging my way back to my cabin. Although, I soon realized that I wouldn’t be let off so easily, as a red light was frantically attempting to cull my attention. I ignored it, but soon after I was forced into a virtual call by my officer. I brought my wrist to my face again, “Didn’t think I could ignore you for long.”
“Well I won’t be taking much of your time.” His voice was stern, and despite his authoritative nature and occupation, I knew him not as such a man. He was more mellow, soft spoken, and reserved then he lets.
“In that case, spill it.” He cleared his throat, and I noticed him glaring off to the side, as if he was checking his documents. I waited, and despite not hearing the rustling of papers within the virtual call, knew that what he was about to say was not something he was prepared for. In other words, an emergency order of contract.
“You’ve got a collector inbound at your location.”
“A collector? Isn’t that supposed to happen at the end of the month?” I pressed on a button at the edge of the virtual call to bring up the onscreen calendar. It was barely half.
“Nope still not the end of the month,” I replied.
“Sudden orders from the top brass. You can’t ignore them, and I sure can’t.”
“Top brass must be bored if they’re sending a collector to me now.”
“Bored or not, it’s contractual regulation. You know the drill.” I looked at him with disdain and then repeated my memorized pledge, “Constrain, contain, cooperate.”
“The collector will be there in five. Expect him, or don’t. Your choice.” He smiled, and then signed off abruptly. My simple morning turned out to be more than simple, and my month was nearing its end before it even began. I sighed again. I was the housekeeper of the last tree on earth. The gate guardian, Cerberus. Except, no one was entering my gates, and no one cared for it. I was a pitiful man with my own plot of land, standing for what is the remnants of our humanity. Some want it down, and some want to revere it as an entity for enterprise. I didn’t care for what others wanted. This was my tree, and this was my home. Taking it down meant going through a war. I was that war.
I rushed to my home and gathered whatever meager offerings I had to the collector. My cabin was a small quaint little structure with minimal furniture. The insides were insulated well with a large overhanging chandelier and smaller candles littered among the tables. A small bag was all I had to get, a small bag with a small circle drawn on its leather surface. The insides were filled with children of the great relic, or so they say. Really, they just wanted to burn my seeds.
I left my house in a composed manner, heading for the border of my land, and watching my watch for the insidious red light. Soon enough, my watch began emitting that red light, and this time, I had no choice but to accept. I turned on the virtual call, and saw another man with dark slicked back hair, with a suit and tie, who was probably the same age as my officer.
“I’m sure my acquaintance has told you about my arrival,” he said in a business like demeanor, although this time, I knew he had qualms about any autonomous behaviour from me. I knew who to piss off, and who not to. Although I still did it anyway.
“Your arrival is well known among my lands, everybody in my cabin knows you’re here.” I smiled at him while he remained stoic.
“Say,” I continued, “Why are you here so early anyway?” It was regulation that I stayed on call with the collector, and so I stayed on call with the collector, no matter how pernicious it was to me. He didn’t respond. And so I poked again, “You guys must be bored out of your mind if you’re being sent now. Doesn’t top brass have anything important to do, like stop actual crimes?” I remained completely misanthrope, giving him just the right amount of arrogance, ignorance, and intolerance in my tone and manner.
“I mean, I sure as hell don’t pay tax dollars, but everybody else in the world does. Unlimited energy doesn’t come cheap, but your lazy asses apparently do.” It seemed that I hit a nerve as the collector in the virtual call cleared his throat and prepared his piece, “I was called here on important business. Whether that business concerns you or not is entirely up to my superiors.”
“It doesn’t concern you.”
“Well I’m sure you still know what that business is, right?”
“And I’m sure you have your own opinions about this business, right?”
“So what’s your opinion on this matter?”
“I am not obliged to disclose that to you.”
“Worth a try?” He didn’t answer. I laughed. As I neared the border, I closed the call and lowered my wrist. I waited a few seconds, and then a door appeared in front of me. Everywhere in front of me was a wide landscape of lush green and beautiful blue, and even if the hue was misconstrued, I still loved it better than the outside grey. The collector, just as I had imagined a capitalistic middle aged man to look like, came into the doorway, as if to feign some sort of impunity. I reached my hand out to give him my bag, and he accepted it promptly. We exchanged no words, and once he had turned his back, and was about to close the border door, I gave him a remark, “Criminals lurk among the daylight. Keeping an eye on me is no different from promulgating a worldwide campaign against the world tree.” Whether it was the world tree, an ancient relic, or simply my tree, this tree nevertheless had great importance. The mega corps of the world couldn’t outright ignore that fact, and they knew it was good business to leave me be.
“Is that a threat?” The collector didn’t turn around, but his tone exuded the belligerent attitude of every man like him. A man like them had but one job to show to commoners like me.
“It is. Do you know what my ransom is?”
“But you at least have an idea, right?”
“More or less.” A man like them, had to show that they had more power than people like me, and when something like that happens, people like me come up and want more power. Not because we’re afraid that we will be too overpowered by these men, but in a state of equality, we want to be treated like them. It’s a conundrum among the proletarians and bourgeois. When one upsets the scale, the other, naturally, wants to reset the scale. In my case, all I wanted was better tools and equipment.
“Access to better shipments. That’s all I’m asking for.”
“I’ll send word to my superiors.” With that, the collector left, and I walked my way back to my cabin. I lifted my watch again, and turned it off, completely this time. If they had business with me, they would have forwarded it to my officer, like with the collector. I couldn’t care less what the outside world wanted with me now, because at this time of day, all they wanted was to treat this tree like a theme park.
As I entered my cabin, I took a deep breath, and looked towards the floor. A red carpet laid on the wooden tiles, and I couldn’t help but smile at the sight of it. I reached under and pulled the red carpet, revealing a trap door. I opened the door, it was unlocked, and descended the stairs. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, I reveled in the amount of progress that was being done. A huge over sprawling underground community of plants and wild life existed. To my right were a patch of smuggled tree seeds, to my left, a garden of fresh vegetables, and even further down was a pen of sheep and pig. All things exiled, and all things sought out by people like my collector and my officer. The air here was extracted from the air above, it was the freshest air, I could obtain, but it did its job. The soil was extracted from the world tree, and the fresh water and fertilizer was all on the account of the top brass. My equipment was getting rusty, and that was to be due. I would get replacements, otherwise, the world tree will have to perish, and the corps can’t have that happening. Even so, this underground community, this sanctum of the world long past, is my only safe space.
It was my own rebellion, and it was the only real way that I could fight against everything everyone who worshipped the tree wanted. It was clandestine activism at its best. The truth is, I was probably the world’s most wanted criminal. And all I’ve done, is keep the last tree on earth.