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Authors: Fionn Jameson

Arjun

BOOK: Arjun
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Contents

Copyright © 2013

1

2

3

4

EXTRA

Copyright © 2007 - 2013

by Fionn Jameson

 

Cover art © Fionn Jameson

 

Editor: M.E. Ellis

 

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the writer, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

I needed a Christmas tree.

I
had
to get one.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I can’t live without them. In fact, I’ve lived through quite a few of my “Bohemian” holiday seasons without one of those prickly things, and it didn’t make much of a difference if +m mzI had one or didn’t.

Unfortunately, my mother was the type of woman who subscribed to all the different McCall home-making periodicals, and for her, a home without a Christmas tree, was not a home at all. I saw several things wrong with the way she thought, but she had tunnel vision; it was impossible to get her to concentrate or think about anything else.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if she wanted an ordinary tree, the sort of tree that you can get, already cut and trimmed, at the empty lot next to the supermarkets. But no,
she
had to be different.

Which would explain why I was standing in front of a tree, in the middle of nowhere, with a chainsaw in the trunk of my car, because Victoria Kent
had
to have a real tree. But since she was stuck in a wheelchair, due to a skiing accident a few weeks back, guess who had to do the deed? If the police caught me, she was going to have to pay for my bail, because I wasn’t going to waste my money on her foolishness.

I had to admit, though, there was something oddly beautiful about a perfectly formed fir tree. Maybe it was the way the branches reached up, almost as if the wooden fingers tried to touch the moon, but as I stood there, snow melting in my sneakers, I sort of saw why Mom was so asinine about getting the
perfect
tree.

The tree stood alone in a clearing, lit only by the light of the full moon. It had snowed a few hours ago, and with the snow clumped on the branches, the entire scene looked like something off of a Christmas card. I half expected to see a deer stepping out from the underbrush, her doe tagging along.

But no deer came, and the wind picked up. I shivered in my heavy parka.

“No time like the present,” I muttered and hefted the surprisingly heavy chainsaw. For such a small thing, it weighed quite a bit. It seemed like such a shame, though. To bring down something so beautiful seemed positively sacrilegious.

It was a good thing I wasn’t religious.

“Right,” I said. “Next Christmas, I don’t care if she’s in a full-body cast. She’s fetching her own tree. No more acting like the perfect little daughter anymore.”

Why did this feel so dirty?

Finger on the safety throttle, I was ready to disable it and then flick on the power button. I’d push through the trunk of the fir tree, and that would be that.

So what was stopping me?

I had the feeling something was fundamentally wrong, but I couldn’t seem to figure out as to
why
I was feeling this way. Just a feeling….

“And the day when I let my feelings rule my head will be the day I dig a grave and knock myself in.” I’d always thought I was a very level-headed woman, not the sort given to flightiness or flippancy.

Taking a deep breath, I pulled down the safety throttle and clicked on the power button of the electric chainsaw.

The shrill metallic cry of the saw cut through the air, piercing and so out of place, I almost turned it off. But I didn’t. I’d come this far and I was going to do the deed.

Holding the chainsaw steady, I braced myself against the initial resistance of metal meeting wood.

Don’t.

The chainsaw stopped a few inches away from the bark, and I very nearly dropped the saw in shock. What the hell was
that
?

Stop.

Oh. Wonderful. Now I was hearing voices in my head.

Please don’t do that. Please stop.

But the voice was not in my head. I didn’t know how I could possibly have heard it over the deafening whirl of the saw, but I’d heard it, almost as if someone had whispered right into my ear.

A film of cold sweat formed on my brow, and I turned off the saw. I was going to be sick, I knew it. My stomach rolled, and the acidic taste of bile rose in the back of my throat, disgustingly thick.

The sudden quiet of the night hit me as abruptly as a drunk driver hits an unsuspecting deer on the highway, and the saw fell from my nerveless fingers.

Please. I told you to stop, did I not?

My head spun, and I was so afraid my head would roll off my shoulders that my hands went up, just to hold it in place. No use. I was about to disgrace myself in front of a tree that possessed a very strange defense mechanism.

I don’t want to hurt you anymore. I don’t like to hurt people. But you give me no choice. I must protect what I can.

The fact that I was talking to a tree didn’t seem to matter. All that mattered was that my stomach had to quit rebelling, that my head had to stop spinning around in manic circles.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry! I won’t cut you down, I swear!” A few more seconds, and I was going to be very, very sick.

It was quiet, just for a moment.

Do you promise? Do you swear?

At that point, I would have said anything just to stop myself from throwing up the meatloaf I’d eaten earlier. “Yes! Yes, I promise! I promise! Please, just make it stop!”

And, slowly but surely, mercifully, the world stopped spinning, and my stomach settled down enough for me to take a few breaths that hurt my chest, as if something was stabbing me with tiny needles.

I am sorry I had to do that. It is...not often that I resort to such violent measures. Usually, you humans turn away when I say no, when I tell you to leave this place. But you’re quite different.

Snow soaked the knees of my jeans, and I sat back, heedless of the wetness seeping through the denim. “Jesus mother…I don’t know what the hell you did to me, but it worked. Don’t woris h could n’t ry. I’ll definitely go elsewhere.”

Thank you.

No. The voice wasn’t in my head, as I’d thought, but in the air around me, carried by the soft, cold breeze that ran along my exposed skin like frozen silk.

Dementia? Something that I ate last night? Paranoia?

It couldn’t be. The experience I’d just felt, the sickness that threatened to overwhelm me, made it clear that whoever this person was, whoever the speaker was, he was not a figment of my imagination. For one thing, it was far too vivid, and besides, I’d never really had much of an imagination to begin with.

“Yeah, sure, whatever.” I felt like I was trying to learn how to breathe all over again. “You know, if you
really
didn’t want me to cut a tree down, you could have just said so, instead of turning my stomach into mush and my brain into a carnival joyride.”

Ah, but would you have listened?

I caught the faint strum of amusement in the timbre I somehow recognized as male. “Hah, most likely not. Then again, I can’t believe I’m talking to you now. If anyone ever walked in on this, they’d probably have me locked away for a very long time.”

You humans. Always thinking. Always wanting to know more. It was both your gift and your undoing. Why must you always have to have proof? Why must you always have to doubt? Why can’t you just take things as they are?

A regular old philosopher this guy was.

“Yeah, well, that’s us humans, all right. Hell, I know people who’d cheat their own mothers if they thought they could get away with it,” I said, wishing I didn’t sound so jaded.

Once, Christmas had been all about giving cheer, about extending goodwill to the fellow man. Now, Christmas was a businessman’s dream with lots and lots of sales, an abandonment of the ideals we’d once held dear. Almost made me ashamed of the very human race I was a part of. Jolly Old Saint Nick would have been embarrassed to set foot outside the North Pole, that was for damn sure.

My ass was starting to get numb from the cold, but that all seemed so materialistic. After all, it wasn’t often one got to hear a disembodied voice echoing around them, buzzing in their ears.

The silence stretched on, heavy, weighing me down.

“By the way. My name’s Evelyn. Evelyn Kent.” I would have extended a hand out, but there really wasn’t anyone for me to shake hands with.

Evelyn. That is a most beautiful name. It begins with “Eve” and ends with “Lyn.” If your mother named you, she must be a very wise woman.

My mother? Wise? Well, she did have her merits, but being particularly clever wasn’t high on her list of desirable traits. “Actually, it wasn’t my mother who named me. My father was the one who wanted me named after my grandmother.”

Then your father is a very wise man. hearing voices in my head.

Mr. I Save Trees from Devastation didn’t know how right he was.

“Yeah. Dad was a good guy.” I refused to think too long about the car accident seven years ago. Come to think of it, it was around that time when Mother started going a little kooky. “What’s your name?”

My question hung in the air, as crystalline and sharp as the icicles hanging from the fir tree I’d almost cut down.

My name?

“Yes. Your name. You
do
have a name, don’t you?”

Silence was my only answer, and I tried again. Never say die until one was actually dead, that was my motto, and it had never served me wrong. Not yet, at least.

“Hello? Are you still there?”

Arjun. They call me Arjun.

“They? Who’re they?”

Things were starting to get a little interesting.

But to us, names are not so important. We do not talk like you humans do; there is no need for us to converse with words. I suppose it’s best to say we communicate through feelings…ideas….

“Uh-huh.” As much as I enjoyed talking to a tree, it was really time to go back. I was shivering and didn’t want my ass amputated due to frostbite. “Look, it’s been great talking to you, but let’s face it, you’re a tree, and I’m not all that keen on sharing a deep and meaningful conversation with one. Some people, yeah, they do that all the time, but I’m not them, so I’m afraid this is where we exchange our farewells.”

His tone took on a rather offended note.

I am not a tree. I am not an unmoving object. I move as easily as you move.

I dusted off the bottom of my pants. His voice carried in the wind, encircling me, before whispering away.

“Oh, really? Well, if you’re not a tree, then what the heck are you? A bird?”

Now you mock me.

Clearly, I was losing my mind. “No, I’m not making fun of you. You tell me you’re not a tree, but I’m pretty much convinced that you’re just a part of the imagination I never knew I had until I attacked a Christmas tree. So, if you will excuse me, I do have to get back home and take a dip in some hot water so that my butt will defrost.”

Wait. If I show you…will you stay?

He sounded almost hopeful; meanwhile, I was completely incredulous. “What?”

Just as I said. I realize that a talking voice could perhaps be more than a little disconcerting. That is why you are leaving, is that not so?

“Actually, no, the reason I’m lea—”

Th
whge of my en I will appear for you.

And despite it all, I
was
curious. If someone, anyone, showed up, at least it would point to the rather evident fact that I wasn’t just hearing voices in my head.

BOOK: Arjun
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