The Death Tree – 500 word short story


Ronan and Poderick walked up the hill in near darkness, till they reached the ‘Death Tree’.

“Some say they ‘ave ‘eard noises, ghostly bayin’, terrifyin’ screams, sinister laughin’ from up here”, Ronan said patting Poderick’s back trying to comfort him.

“Don’ you be talkin’ ’bout such tings, tis nonsense and ye know it”, he replied.

“Aye tis a nonsense alright”, Ronan agreed.

“Why are we comin’ up ‘ere den, fer what purpose”?

“To prove to ourselves dat dares no such a ting as ghosts, or demons and the like”.

Dusk was slowly transforming to night, the wind across the moors howled, the chill in the air icy and unnerving.

Nothing to be seen for miles around, nothing but barren farmer’s land, old wooden fences, broken barbed wire rattling in the wind and …the tree.

“I don’ tink we ‘ave to prove anytin’, if dares ghosts up here, let ’em rest, let ’em be, we would be makin’ dem uneasy bein’ here”, Poderick said nervously.

“Aye don’ be daft man, tis old wives tales, is all”.

Across the moors, the wind bellowed louder, a droning noise, like they had never heard before.

Planes of war, full of bombs ready to escape their hold.

Constant and haunting, Ronan and Poderick stared at one another, neither of them uttering a word.

Mist drew in around their feet, their ankles, blanketing their shoes.

“What da feck is goin’ on ‘ere Ronan, what is dis”, Poderick’s voice quivering, uncontrolled.

“I don’ know Pod, I swear I don’ know what’s ‘appenin'”.

The mist encircled their bodies, as they stood transfixed to the earth.

The trees branches bare of leaves, liked boned fingers, it’s gnarly arms crossing each other, its bark, black like death itself.

Both of them tried to move but couldn’t, both tried to speak, no words would form.

As quickly as it came, the mist retracted, the wind silenced and the icy chill abandoned them.

“Dat was close, can we go now?” pleaded Poderick.

He turned, waiting for Ronan to answer him.


Poderick scanned the moors of darkness, yelling out.


“Ronan”, he screamed. Enuff wid da games, where are ya”?

Poderick stood motionless, his gut twisting, his breathing laboured, he had to leave, had to hope that Ronan was back in his house by the fire, drinking a toddy, and laughing at the prank he had pulled on his friend.

Thirteen steps on the blades of grass that snapped under Poderick’s feet, thirteen steps before he heard a voice and turned.

He shook his head vehemently, rubbing his eyes till his gaze locked on the tree before him.

A ghostly whisper, “Run”.

Poderick looked up into the branches, in-between the boughs of twisted wood, a skull manifested.

“Holy Mary mother of God, what is happenin’ ‘ere”, he screamed.

The giant jaw dropped opened and from the broken and yellow teeth it spoke again.

“Run Poderick”.

In the sockets that once held eyes he saw Ronan.

This is a story that I submitted to the April Challenge at   Writing Upside Down.

The spelling in ‘their speech to one another’, is purposely writen like this as the two characters are Irish and I was trying to imitate how they speak (in a lovely way of course).

I wrote this within an hour as I was notified of the challenge very late that night and was about to go to sleep. Hope you enjoy for what it is.