“Grow up, Jeff! You’re such a wuss! Let’s go a bit further!” Tanya used the whingeing voice her brother made as a kid.
Jeff rolled his eyes and conceded to his sister for the millionth time in his life.
Trudging through the snowy fields at night to the forest, Walter, Jeff and Tanya were struggling to hold the tools they needed to carry out their annual tradition.
“Guys, let’s just chop these ones down as I can’t feel my legs.” whined Jeff, slapping his limbs to see if they were blocks of ice. Tanya and Walter continued to ignore him.
A few minutes later, after an extra trudge or five into the forest, they all picked their weapon of choice and began to look around for a pine tree. Walter chose a large tree as he loved a challenge, Tanya chose a slightly smaller tree that she thought she could drag to the truck and Jeff, owning his wussiness, chose a much smaller pine he could easily carry and give to his kids.
Walter lined up the saw’s metal teeth with the base of the tree and made a quick cut as a marker. Before he could slice deeper into the trunk he was rudely interrupted.
“Don’t you dare!” whispered the mysterious voice.
Walter looked around him, the voice seemed nearby. Tanya and Jeff were too far away to have said it to spook him so Walter shrugged his shoulders, lifted the saw, lined it up with his first groove and began to slice once more. Before his tool completed one full incision into the trunk, the lowest branch slapped it out of Walter’s hands.
“Are you deaf or just really stupid?”
Looking in the one direction he didn’t try last time, Walter pointed his head upwards and came face to face with the furious pine needled head of the tree he was chopping down. The noise that erupted out of Walter once he was face to face with this furious fir was like a baby with a need for milk and a nappy change at the same time. Birds flew out of trees, squirrels put acorns in their ears for protection and worms dug deeper into the ground to escape the screams.
Wielding an axe and chainsaw respectively, Tanya and Jeff stopped their opening slices to look over at a whaling Walter. Before they could question why he was screaming they were in similar worlds of pain. Tanya’s axe was grabbed by a firry hand:
“Let’s see how you like it” The tree swung the axe at Tanya’s face, narrowly missing her each time but with strands of her hair falling to the ground.
Jeff watched on and burst out laughing. His giggles were rudely interrupted by a swift pointy branch slap across the face that left a small stinging cut.
“Not laughing now, are you?”
Jeff looked into the tree’s green surroundings and saw the festive face of his slapper.
“I suggest you run… NOW!”
Jeff dropped his chainsaw, with a combination of screams and wobbles shifted his large behind out of the forest, as pine needles shot past his head, some embedding in his back.
Walter, still making the sound of a newborn with a smelly bottom, was picked up by the large pine and thrown over the tree tops landing in a crater on the outskirts of the forest. Whilst laying face down in the snow attempting to re-inflate his lungs, Walter felt two large splats on his back from nearby sharp-shooting pigeons.
Tanya, now with a short bob from the axe-based haircut, had already sprinted back to the truck and was hiding in the back seat.
Behind them the entire forest erupted into a deafening roar of festive laughter that could be heard for miles around.
Jeff’s son Tyler burst out of the front door and raced down the drive towards his dad. He couldn’t wait until they were face to face so started his conversation several meters away.
“Did you get it?” asked Tyler, barely able to contain his excitement.
“You betcha kiddo!” Jeff responded, trying his best to be upbeat and positive as he held the gift he knew his son hadn’t asked for behind his back.
“Great! Where is it?” Tyler surveyed the vicinity enthusiastically, including his dad’s car, and couldn’t see anything remotely tree-like.
“Here it is!” Jeff pulled the gift from behind his back conjuring up as much excessive Saturday night entertainer as he could muster.
Tyler’s face dropped as he reviewed the thing his dad was holding in front of him. It was the tiniest, tinselfied LED-tastic fakest Christmas tree you’d ever seen. His eyes narrowed as he stared into Jeff’s soul.
“What is that??” asked Tyler in an accusatory tone.
“It’s a Christmas tree!” chuckled Jeff staring at the tree trying to make light of the situation.
“It’s not what I asked for, Daddy!”
Jeff dropped the tree to his side and let out a huge sigh ready to confess.
“Look son I had a problem getting a real tree so I thought…”
“You thought, oh you thought, did you? Daddy, I suggest you take that thought back to the shop and get your money back!” interrupted Tyler who really hoped his Dad would get it right this time after years of false hope.
“It syncs with your phone and plays music,” continued Jeff, who was trawling through all the things the guy in the shop told him.
“I DON’T CARE IF THIS TREE PLAYS MARIO KART WITH ME!! GET RID OF IT!!!” screamed Tyler whose frustration exploded out of his flushed face.
“Tyler, you’re being ridiculous,” said Jeff sensing his son was about to say something he would regret. Tyler was offended by his Dad’s accusations and thought about storming into the house.
“Ridiculous!? Me? I’m not the one that thought this… THING would be the same as a real Christmas tree. I’m sorry Daddy you need to take it back and get me a real tree NOW,” ordered Tyler.
“Son, come on! I’ve tried but…” pleaded Jeff.
“No buts Daddy, if you want to come round this Christmas I want my tree.” Tyler was holding all the cards and Jeff had nothing.
“But it’s Christmas Eve,” Jeff looked into his son’s eyes, hoping for once his child would show some sympathy for his Dad. Nothing was returned other than a smirk on Tyler’s face with a solitary tear flowing from his right eye.
“Y’know, now I get why Mom left you. You can’t even get this right.”
Jeff was crushed, he didn’t deserve this. Nothing he did for this kid was good enough. He wanted to put his son straight on a few things but Tyler had already started to turn around.
“Hey that’s not fair, you come back and apologise.” Jeff reached out for his son’s arm to stop him from leaving but was too slow.
“See yer Dad!” Tyler ran as fast as he could back down the drive towards his house, jumped through the front door and slammed it shut.
Jeff’s rage towards his son’s comments ignited something deep inside. Gripping the pink LED tree monstrosity tight, he swung open his car door, jumped inside and sped back down the driveway into the road and roared down the street. Despite being a sassy little prick, his son was right. Jeff had given up too easily, he needed to get that tree and with some reinforcements he knew exactly where to find one.
The noise of the engines woke up the trees far too late, the usual bird and squirrel alarms had failed and the ear shattering rumbling eventually lifted them from their soily slumber. Mr Tree, his wife and child all opened their eyes in unison and saw six men with huge chainsaws slicing into the first row of trees in the forest. It was horrific, multiple woodland voices screaming for help and then dropping to the floor lifeless with a thud.
Mr Tree could hear the glee from one of the murderous men and recognised him instantly. It was one of the idiots from earlier back with reinforcements.
“Do a few more and then help me get these into the truck,” Jeff declared to his newly recruited woodsmen from a nearby bar. He stood by the pick-up truck, which they had used to crash through the fencing and dri over the snowy field towards the forest, feeling proud of his plan and that it was working.
Mr Tree had to do something before the entire forest was destroyed. Moving his trunk one way and then the other Mr Tree began to feel some space between his trunk and the soil around it. Wrestling back and forth, back and forth until he felt his roots coming loose and finally he was able to pull his entire tree out of the ground. He immediately closed his eyes to concentrate and a crack began to form in the base of his newly released trunk. The crack spread as it grew longer when with a final loud THWACK, the trunk base split in half to reveal two perfectly formed tree legs. Baby and Mrs Tree looked on in astonishment.
“I didn’t think we were allowed to do that!” squealed Baby Tree.
“We’re not! But your father knows best and we need to stop these men,” said Mrs Tree admiring her husband’s bravery slash stupidity.
“I need you both to help me! Come on! Out you come!!” ordered Mr Tree shouting over the top of the forest screams and incessant sawing . His wife and son dragged themselves out of the ground pulling away from their roots ready to lead the fight back. Grabbing each other’s branches they formed a huddle to discuss the plan.
“Okay, this is what I need you to do kiddo. Go get the Spirit!”
“Really!?! I thought we never wake her!” asked Baby Tree, unsure his Dad was being serious.
“I know! But she needs to help protect the forest,” insisted Mr Tree to his son, well aware of the danger.
“Whilst you do that, your Mum and I will try to slow them down and scare them off. Ready honey?” asked Mr Tree knowing his wife enjoyed kicking human butt.
“Let’s do this! This is our forest, we have to defend it!” The Tree family left the huddle, Baby Tree hugged his parents and dashed off to wake the Spirit. Mr and Mrs Tree clomped towards the woodsman ready to inflict the maximum amount of pain. They both whistled at the same time and chirps and tweets echoed around the forest. Jeff signalled to his men to stop what they were doing.
“Why have we stopped?” asked Gavin, who was about to chop down another tree. Jeff asked him to listen carefully. The bird song got nearer until it appeared to be overhead. Gavin felt a splash of rain on his head.
“Oh we better get into the truck soon or we’ll be soaked!” Gavin noticed Jeff and the other guys were staring at him open-mouthed. He didn’t get a chance to ask them why they were doing this because he got bombarded with multiple birds spraying him with huge amounts of poo. Within five seconds he had been splattered countless times until he looked like a poopy chrysalis. The weight and smell of that many bird turds toppled Gavin onto the ground, sending his chainsaw flailing around next to him before cutting out.
Jeff and the other four guys burst out laughing but that was short-lived when a swarm of bees hit two more of the party. Being stung hundreds of times in one minute meant both their faces swelled up to three times the size. They sprinted back across the snowy field towards the main track out of there. Looking round at the remaining two members of his party standing by the truck, Jeff ordered them to keep sawing. Whizzing the chainsaws in the air, both of them began to saw through another tree.
Mr and Mrs Tree both grabbed multiple squirrels, pulled back on their tails and sent them catapulting towards their targets. Hitting the men in their environmentally unfriendly faces, the squirrels went to work scratching and biting their faces and noses. When they thought it couldn’t get any worse, the squirrels both sprayed them with wee giving them a free wash. The men screamed as the squirrels gave them one more scratch for the road as they ran away leaving Jeff on his own.
He was fuming now that his plan was in ruins. With Tyler’s voice echoing in his head Jeff picked up one of the saws and ran towards the nearest tree to continue chopping them down. Before the saw hit the trunk Mr Tree connected with the saw slapping it down.
“I told you to leave!” snarled Mr Tree to a quivering but determined Jeff.
“I promised my son I’d get him a tree and that’s what I’m gonna do!”
Jeff swirled the chainsaw towards Mr Tree and sliced through his chest sending sawdust everywhere. The wooden defender crashed to the ground feeling the pain of every tooth from the saw.
“Noooo,” cried Mrs Tree, who hit Jeff hard and sent him flying across the field slamming against the fence. Kneeling down to tend to her husband surrounded by fallen trees, Mrs Tree could see he had been cut badly.
“We had to try…” Mr Tree began to speak but coughed wood clippings out of his mouth. Mrs Tree hugged him.
“I know! You did your best. Save your energy!”
Mrs Tree was too busy tending to her husband to notice the approaching rumble of the chainsaw. Jeff lifted the saw over his head and proceeded to bring it down towards Mrs Tree’s foliage. Suddenly something grabbed Jeff by his jacket and lifted him high into the air. His entire body was surrounded by golden light as he rose higher and higher until his eyes met the angry face of a huge golden tree. Metres below him he heard a squeaky voiced Baby Tree shout,
“Welcome to the party! You’re in trouble now!!”
Jeff was terrified, watching the Spirit of the Forest stare at him intently.
“What will you do to me?” Jeff asked, hoping he would be spared. The Spirit grasped his jacket tighter and a tingly sensation surrounded Jeff’s arm. Bringing his arm up to his face Jeff saw it change from flesh and bone to wood, branch and leaf. He screamed in horror.
“How do you think these other trees could talk? I taught them a lesson and made them part of the forest as well,” giggled the Spirit to herself.
“Please No! It’s Christmas! I have a son! I promise I won’t do it again! I’m an idiot! I can be a better person, just don’t make me a tree,” pleaded Jeff with tears streaming down his face. The tingly sensation left his arm and it became flesh and bone once more. The Spirit dropped Jeff sending him crashing 60 feet to the ground, crashing into the snow.
“Oh thank you,” Jeff smiled to the spirit, only to be faced with an angry Baby Tree who was slapping two of his branch arms together. Firing pine needles directly into Jeff’s face, Baby Tree only just missed his eyes. Letting out a blood curdling scream, Jeff limped through the snow leaving the truck behind.
“Start running,” shouted Baby Tree from behind him. More pine needles hit his head, back and legs as he reached the broken fence ready to race down the track. Baby Tree’s final goodbye present was a flurry of pine cones into Jeff’s backside bruising his cheeks and causing his trousers to split. Jeff’s whimpering voice could be heard for several minutes as he drifted further and further away from the scene.
The Spirit patted Baby Tree on the head, turned to the forest and a huge wave of golden light flowed through the ground and quickly all the fallen trees began to rise up and replant themselves. Kneeling down to Mr and Mrs Tree, he surrounded them in golden sunshine until both were restored to their former uncut selves. In a matter of minutes the forest was almost back to normal and the Spirit came to talk to the Tree Family.
“Your quick thinking saved us this time, Mr Tree,” said the Spirit with her ethereal voice.
“Oh it was nothing really! So proud my son got back in time.” Mr Tree stared at his baby with so much love.
“Right, I guess we go back to our forest spaces now and replant our roots?” said Mrs Tree getting on her chunky feet, brushing off the excess snow, ready to go home.
The Spirit contemplated this for a moment before exploding into an intense beam of light.
“I have bigger plans for you three. We need to regroup and be better prepared for the future as guardians of not just this forest but all of them! Come with me…”
Limping slightly, Jeff slowly took his body, piece by piece up each step to the front door, trying not to make any sudden movements. Having spent the last two hours picking pines from his back, nursing bumps, bruises and sore orifices, any body motion was a world of pain. He knocked hard on the door. It opened quickly to reveal a smiling Tyler who took one look at his dad, saw there was no Christmas tree, his smile disappeared and instantly slammed the door shut before Jeff could utter a single word.
“Merry Christmas,” whispered Jeff quietly to himself as he stared at his frozen feet contemplating his next literal move. Shivering uncontrollably Jeff had an idea, he’ll come back tomorrow, apologise profusely to Tyler and then offer to take him for a walk… in the woods.