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Taken By The Tree-Man

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The shadows of the trees outside were long, stretching from the window across the floor, up the wall almost to the ceiling. The inconsistent winds made the dark shapes rock and sway at randomizing speeds. One of the shadows,creeping over my bed and up the wall, resembled a large hand, waving slowly in my direction. But as the gusts push the branches a little further apart, the hand became a long, thin claw. Swiping nonchalantly at nothing in particular.

I averted my eyes, turning over on my side to face the wall my bed is pushed up against. The foliage is thick on the other side of the window, so what I saw on my wall were shifting silhouettes forming a pitch black surface with small slivers of light bleeding through. The wounds were covered, but reopened elsewhere on the wall. This was not much more comforting. 

My name is Nathaniel Hawthorne, and I'm seven years old. Still young enough to be scared by such small things as shadows, noise, and that all time favorite, the dark. At times like these, I wished I wasn't an only child. A brother or sister to comfort me would be nice right now. I've always wanted a brother or sister...

I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the nightly shapes which unsettle me so much. Outside, I could hear the wind gust and the trees moan as their roots were stretched. It's...a disturbing sound when you're all alone in the dead of night.

My eyes opened slowly; I didn't think I'd be able to drift off anytime soon. What I saw made my eyelids fly open the rest of the way. One of the shadows that I had noticed on my wall was gone. I hesitantly turned to my other side and looked through my window.

I couldn't tell a difference. I hadn't been paying close attention to the trees that were creeping me out, so it didn't surprise me too much. Maybe I was just tired. It was a couple hours past my bedtime. 

Looking back to the wall,I noticed which shadow has moved. The middle finger of the hand that waved so carelessly was gone,leaving the shadow in the shape of long, thin horns. 'Musta just...swung to the side,it's behind another one of the trees,' my young mind tried to reason. 

My eyelids closed again, and I felt peaceful. Maybe dreamland is just around the corner. I laid there silent, perfectly still, feeling my limbs fall asleep, and my mind begin to drift in pursuit...

TapTap! This sudden noise rocked me out of the slumber boat into the cold sea of reality, the dark room I was in. Something was tapping the glass. Before I even moved a muscle, I saw the wall in front of me.

The center tree,which had seemingly disappeared for a moment, was now back amongst the other shadows. The wind must have pushed it back into place.

It was then that I noticed something...off. I stared at the center branch, comparing it to the two on either side of it. I quickly realized something.

The steady breeze was acting upon the other thin trees,made them sway and shake their branches absently. But...not the center one. The tree in the center did not move with it's brethren. As I began to wonder why this one was seemingly independent, that thought alone sent a chill down my backside.

Independent. It was acting on its own,by not acting. The breeze couldn't make it budge; I could still hear the howling winds but they had no effect on this plant.

I found myself afraid to turn around and see the tree. 

I don't know how long I watched the shadow on my wall before it moved. I don't think I blinked once. Eventually,it did move. I watched a long branch, connected to the middle tree, rise slowly to window level, and rap on the glass. Tap. Tap. With a pause in between, it....it knocked on my window.

Unconsciosly, I noticed my lungs were working in overtime; my breath was rapid and I even began to feel lightheaded. My eyes felt bulged out with fear. When I ignored the tree's knock, it simply repeated a minute later. Tap. Tap.

'It's the wind,' I recall trying to reason,'the wind is blowing the tree branch into my window. That's all'. Even though the tree in question was not affected by the wind. 

My young mind had an imagination to be reckoned with at times, but I was trying my hardest to see it as just a plant guided by the weather. It may have worked, if not for the next moment.

TAPTAPTAP! Three rapid ,more forceful raps on the window pane. Whatever was trying to reach me was getting impatient. 

Very slowly, for some reason, I began to turn on my side. Whatever it was, I didn't think it would just go away. It wanted my attention, and I prayed that that was all it wanted. Again, I was young and stupid.

When I saw outside my window, my heart rate began to climb again; my chest heaved and fell as I stared into the face on the other side.

It was the strangest face I had ever seen, mainly because of, well, the lack of face. Attached to a tall, dark, slender frame was a pure white head. This head...had no facial features. Okay, that may not be entirely accurate. It had HINTS of a face, the skin was pulled into indentions where eyes and a mouth should have been. But there were no eyeballs, and the mouth was not open, seemingly covered. There was no trace of a nose at all. This head also appeared bald. If I wasn't frightened by a stranger outside my window, I may have giggled about that.

The branch connected to his body rose again, but this time, moved left to right in a friendly wave. I couldn't take my eyes off of his...missing eyes. I don't know why I did, but I raised my own arm slowly to return his greeting. After I did, though, my heart began to relax some. 

The skin over his mouth curved, shifted, and I would have bet anything that he was smiling. The man that had been a tree then turned his hand around and bent his finger a few times. He was beckoning me, wanting me to leave the safety of my bed and approach him. 

I argued with myself then, trying to think 'no way! I'm not crazy,this guy is bad news bears!'. But another part of my mind, the part that only spoke up when I stared into the man's face, argued back slowly, calmly. 'I'm sure this guy is good luck,Chuck. He seems so nice, and he must have something interesting to show me' it said. The defending argument grew weaker and weaker the longer I looked into the stranger's face.

Then something I never would have expected happened. The man lowered his arm and spread both of them apart,like the legs in the letter A. As I wondered just what he was doing, more branches appeared from behind him. Many more. These branches were different though. They were dark, pitch black dark, and flexible. They whipped to and fro like tentacles from a squid I had seen on Animal Planet. They circled around behind him like rays from the sun, and the hint of the smile he wore seemed to stretch wider.

My covers came off my body. Looking down, I saw that it was my arm pulling them off, my hips turning to the edge of the bed, and my feet connecting with the carpet. I didn't want to, but my body was moving on it's own. 'No!', I shouted in my head, 'No,I don't wanna go!'. I realized that these words didn't escape my head; my mouth refused to yell. I wanted to scream for my parents down the hall, but was completely unable to. They probably had no idea what was happening to their little boy, two doors down the hallway.

When I tried to cry out, the second voice in my head spoke up. This time,  it was even more soothing and suggestive. 'Dont you want to meet this man? To see what his surprise is? It could be something you've always wanted!'

My feet stepped forward absently, my gaze never leaving the tree's pale white face, the alluring whip of the tentacles behind it. I suddenly wanted to meet the man on the other side of my window,to see what surprise he held. Perhaps...perhaps he could help me find a brother. Or a sister. In fact, I was sure he would know how to grant this wish of mine. Besides, he looks friendly. I want to be his friend. 

I got to the window, pulled the two iron latches off the glass, and lifted the window, letting an ice-cold breeze flow into the room.

                                                        Finale

My name is Nathaniel....I don't remember my last name. My old family name. Doesn't matter. It's unimportant to my new family. The family that the Tree-Man took me into. 

I love the Tree-Man. With all my heart, I will always love him. He does bad things sometimes, very bad things, to others as well as to me. But it doesnt matter, does not change how i feel. He is my mother, my father, my mentor, and my guardian. He means everything to me, and we mean everything to him.

After the Tree-Man took me in, I noticed changes. Happy changes. First I noticed my body start to grow. My arms and legs stretched out, and i was almost twice my old height! I finally had my growth spurt! My nails also grew out, long enough for me to dig in the dirt so my feet could rest. Those were the next to change; my toes grew out very long and rope-like, almost like...roots. I must put these into healthy soil every 3 or 4 hours or my feet will start to hurt quite badly.

I could also no longer remember how old I was, but this means the Tree-Man treats every day like my birthday! He brings me gifts to eat,and invites party goers for me to play with. Every day is like this for me, as well as my siblings.

I have many brothers and sisters now. 2,184, I was told yesterday. Quite large for a family but it doesn't matter. I never feel pushed to the side; the Tree-Man took us all in, and he holds every one of our hearts.

He keeps them locked in a chest so that he never loses them, so he will never lose our love. So we can never stop loving him.

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