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I Found a Tree in my Backyard: The Animate Forests

i found a tree in my backyard the animate forests


Estimated reading time — 9 minutes

Journal entry: August 30th, 2031.

My name is Dr. Gabrielle Antario, and there’s something going on that you all should know about. It all started in January of 2020, with the mysterious appearance of a tree in West Virginia, on the property of a man named Reginald Walker. At the time, I was finishing up my doctorate at UCSB, and working at a research institute in Florida. After finishing up my time there working under the supervision of Dr. Ben Gosder, I received my doctorate, and moved onto working for a biology lab in Medina, Ohio, where I still work today. It’s from here that I’ve been monitoring this strange phenomenon ever since.

My involvement begins in June of 2020, when after Dr. Gosder received a call from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, we were dispatched to go see what we could find, and catalog, as we were dealing with what we postulated may be an undiscovered species of tree.

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Upon arriving at Mr. Walker’s property, and being given permission to evaluate the tree, we walked to Mr. Walker’s backyard where we were immediately met with the sight of the odd tree. It certainly wasn’t anything the likes I had ever seen before. It was gray-colored, with a very wide trunk. We measured the trunk to be just shy of 30-feet around. The roots were gnarled and protruded up from the ground in some spots. The branches were long and serpentine. There was very little in way of foliage on the tree, but what was there was long, wispy, and of a beige color. Another peculiar observation made about the tree’s branches was that while the branches did extend from the trunk in all directions, approximately 80% of its branches were either parallel to the ground, or had no more than a 17-degree deviation from parallel, in either direction. One test that we did not get to perform onsite, however, was a fracture test, as we had forgotten our probe in Florida. Would have been interesting to see what that test would have yielded. The tree itself was not overly tall, yet it had a very foreboding visage. Upon closer inspection, the tree gave off a distinctly sweet, floral odor, albeit one I could not exactly place. The bark of the tree was overall very smooth. Another strange anomaly that I noticed while working with Dr. Gosder was that even in times when there was a stiff breeze, the branches, nor the leaves, ever moved, not even the slightest sway. Stranger yet, was that the tree didn’t seem to bare anything that would lead to its multiplication. No fruit, seeds, bulbs, or anything of the sort.

The tree was the big story around that part of West Virginia, until the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Walker’s next-door neighbors, Bill, and Carol Kellenbach. After that, our contact with Mr. Walker stagnated, and he didn’t seem too fond of discussing the tree anymore, at least not at length. It even got to the point where he suggested we not come back to do further testing, even to the point of rescinding our cash offer for the rights to harvest the tree. We had planned to uproot the tree, and cut it into sections, mainly to examine the heartwood, and cambium, but he implored us not to come back, or to bother continuing to do research of any kind on the tree. When pressed as to why his sudden change of heart, he didn’t elaborate much, but he insisted that the tree was alive. It was unclear what it was that he was getting at, since I figured that most people know that trees are living organisms, but he insisted that it was more than that, and that the tree was alive. Things took a strange turn when upon asking Mr. Walker the last time we spoke for a status update on the tree, he said that the tree had gone, before abruptly hanging up. Looking into it further, the research institute I was working for sent a team to investigate, and it did appear as though the tree had gone, but not in the sense that it had been cut down or anything like that, more so, it looked as if there had never been a tree there in the first place. All that was left was a caldera-like basin. When asked what had happened to the tree, Mr. Walker said that one day he woke up, and the tree was just gone, leaving a bowl-shaped indentation where it had previously been, emphasizing that as it had come, so too had it gone.

In the succeeding years, myself and several other geologists and biologists have been keeping a close eye on this, as well as several other similar cases.

At first, it was the odd tree popping up every here and there. First, it was on the east coast in places like Boston, Massachusetts, and Alexandria, Virginia, before cases started popping up in California, and everywhere in between. From there they started showing up all over the world. The first documented international case of one of these trees appearing was in Bologna, Italy, quickly followed by one in Nagoya, Japan. The first one I was sent overseas to research was one found in Gujarat, India. On that trip I noted that this tree had very similar characteristics to that of the one I had inspected back in West Virginia.

One of the strangest things about these trees that became readily apparent was that they didn’t appear to need to take up root in soil in order to survive. As evidenced by the one found in Nagoya, that sprouted up in the middle of a city street, before suddenly disappearing one night, like they all were seemingly so want to do, and leaving behind very little in way of understanding as to how it had derived sustenance.

One theory put forth by the scientific community to possibly explain these trees, is that they could possibly be an ancient, ergo currently uncatalogued, species of what is known as a “resurrection plant.” These are plants that can go extremely long periods of time without water or other vital and essential nutrients, and then spring back to life when those nutrients are reintroduced. It truly is remarkable. This theory, while interesting, I do believe is in line for some scrutiny, in that while these trees could be seen as fitting the profile of a resurrection plant in some regards, their sheer size and growth are so vast, that I would have a hard time believing that degree of growth could happen simply overnight. My main questions would be how would trees this large stay dormant beneath the earth, avoiding all detection? And what nutrient could be causing this?

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In the years since my first encounter with one of these trees I have seen and studied many of them. One thing I’ve been able to deduce is that the tree found on Mr. Walker’s property was “middle-aged.” I was able to make this conclusion on the basis of having found similar trees of varying sizes. Everything from saplings to specimens found to be well over 200-feet tall, rivaling that of sequoias and redwoods, with some trunks measuring close to 75-feet around. Another noteworthy feature of these trees was their colors. These trees came in a variety of colors. As previously mentioned, the first known tree was gray, and while that was a fairly common color for these trees to be, they also came in shades of mauve, crimson, and violet, with the occasional bright yellow one.

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Another noted phenomenon that I found to be exceedingly curious, was that animals seemed to avoid the trees as well. Birds, being one of tree’s most common residence, wouldn’t perch on these tree’s branches, let alone nest in them. We never even so much as saw a squirrel climb one. Save for the occasional banana slug, it appeared as if the animal kingdom knew to steer clear of these trees.

Beginning in 2027, a new phenomenon began to occur. The first noted case was in a cornfield in Nebraska, about an hour or so outside of Omaha, where a large grouping of these trees was found together. The farmer in Nebraska who reported the group of trees on his property stated that the trees just seemed to appear overnight, this being very much in line with all prior reports. He said he neither saw nor heard anything that would have signaled their arrival. The forest was studied by many in the scientific community, and was the catalyst for my lab assistant, Erica, becoming interested in geology. From there, forests bearing the wide range of noted colors of these trees, began sprouting up all over the world. Some of the pictures I’ve seen of them are actually quite stunning.

The forest found in a remote region of Siberia proved to be the largest by area, at just under four square miles. The smallest grouping of these trees, which would by no means be considered a forest, was a small cluster of saplings found in a park, in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, measuring about 12 feet in diameter. One forest found in Finland housed a tree that reached a staggering 800 feet tall, absolutely dwarfing Hyperion. This tree was named Gaia, after the primordial God from Greek mythology, who was the mother of Hyperion.

Upon years of studying these kaleidoscopic forests, several interesting observations were made. In keeping with the notion that animals may know more than us humans do, there was a noted change in the migratory patterns of the many species of birds that were known to inhabit the surrounding areas. It was noted that there were never any birds that flew over the forests, thus, birds who would fly south for the winter, and north for the summer, were noticed avoiding flying over the forests, giving said forests about a two-mile berth on either side. Flighted animals were not the only animal species observed to have altered their habitation, or migratory patterns, however. Ground-dwelling organisms, such as earthworms, beetles, and caterpillars, have been seen fleeing the areas these forests appeared in, as well.

In addition to all of the scientifically collected data, came a plethora of anecdotal evidence in the form of personal stories. There were stories going around claiming that people who would enter the forests would not come back. I thought that sounded kinda farfetched, and more like an urban legend to discourage people from exploring the unknown, or from possibly getting lost in the woods. Or at least that was what I thought. That was until even more strange happenings began to be occur. Not long after the sudden appearance of these forests, both scientists and amateurs alike began flying drones around, and into the densely wooded areas, always yielding inconclusive results. When flown over the forests nothing too noteworthy was recorded. However, when even the most skilled of pilots would fly the drones into the forests, it wouldn’t be too long before the drones’ video feeds would mysteriously, and abruptly cease. Some of these feeds were broadcast live across social media platforms, and yet, when reviewing the footage there didn’t appear to be any clear or apparent reason for this to happen. Very few of these drones were ever recovered, but of the several that were, that would typically be found on the periphery of the forests, they were found to be mangled.

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Then, just a week ago, as Erica and I were getting ready to depart for Nebraska, to study the forest, we got a call from the farmer telling us that the forest had just seemingly vanished. Curious, but not necessarily all that unexpected, seeing as how that was somewhat the M.O. of these trees. The farmer said that the trees had left a massive crater in his field where they had been. I didn’t think too much about it until the forests all started disappearing over the course of the last so many days, thus ending our research, and leaving deep indentations in the earth.

Fast forward to today, I received a text message early this morning from Reginald Walker, urging me to call him. I got around to calling him later on in the evening. He picked up right away, and I asked him what it was that he needed to speak to me about so urgently. He started by apologizing for having been so distant in recent years, to which I assured him it was no problem. He said that after hearing about the forests, and the regularity in which they had been popping up and disappearing, that he just had to reach out. He then asked if I was sitting down, to which I told him I was, and he proceeded. He told me his reason for believing the trees to be living, otherworldly creatures, by telling me the harrowing story of what actually happened to his neighbors, Bill and Carol. He told me that they weren’t missing, but that they were dead, and that they had been effectively absorbed by the tree in his yard. He said that when Bill had tried to burn down the tree, but that the tree plunged a branch into his head, and seemingly drained. He then told me that Bill’s wife, Carol, was devoured by the tree, as it grabbed hold of her legs, and pulled her underground, at the roots. He detailed the horror of watching Bill be drained of his lifeforce, and of Carol being forcefully dragged while screaming in terror, and clawing at the ground to no avail, before finally meeting her end, as well. He then admitted to not having seen what happened to Bill’s body, but that he assumed it was likely similar to what happened to Carol, as after he went inside for the night, after all of the commotion, he went straight to bed. Then when he went outside the following morning, Bill’s body was no longer there. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I remember meeting Mr. Walker for the first time when I was a bright-eyed, young doctoral student, and he wasn’t someone I took to be a dishonest person, or someone who was likely to make up stories to drum up publicity, or anything like that. He said that he believed the trees to not actually be trees, but that he thought they were actually some type of alien lifeforms that just resembled trees. I think I’m starting to believe him.

Credit: Steven Allen

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