Something’s definitely going on said the man in the tree to the egg that just appeared out of nowhere next to it. Your dead right said the egg who cracked and became a chicken, perhaps someone is messing with time said the man in the tree; mmmm! said the carton of fried chicken it had turned into.
The man in the tree looked on, seasons changed grass was cut grew again was cut again, snow came and went days flicked by. If only the man in the tree had watched T.V. he would have recognised what looked like fast forward. He didn’t though as he was just a man in a tree, had always been, and would always be a man in a tree. Some things had changed however, for example he had never been able to talk before and he seemed to be doing an awful lot of thinking of late as well. Which was strange as all threw his existence so far he had never bothered to wonder about stuff. Stuff happened of course anyway, the grass was cut in the field the sun shone in the summer, snow rain and frost came and went in the fall and winter. The strangely coloured basset hound named Watson lately had taken to piddling on his roots and soon no doubt would be pooing there too. Now how did I know he was a Basset thought the man in the tree, and what is a Basset?
Time was speeding up, in fact it was belting along. So fast in fact that the man in the tree could see nothing recognisable at all just a vortex of motes swirling by. This went on for some time, or should I say for some of his own personal time, which to the man in the tree seemed the same as it ever did. The tree however was getting older. It was always the oldest tree in the field, the oldest tree in Munster, possibly the oldest tree in Ireland. It was not though an imposing tree, an evergreen pine of some sort with two trunks towering over the split where what looked like a man’s head resided. Newcomers, tourists perhaps, took snaps and selfees with the tree in the background to show the folks at home. Students wrapped scarves and placed pints of beer next to the head until the novelty wore off. Locals however hardly noticed it, dog walkers ball kickers and slitter puckers treated the tree as just another tree in the field. Watson who being a Basset had a very sensitive nose had found something interesting about the tree, what we will never know.
Threw the maelstrom that engulfed the tree walked the sticky man. He was tall, tall and very thin, and he wore a long black coat with high collars, his head was the shape of a pear drop and he had no eyelids. In his left hand was a dogs lead and it was stretched taught though there was no dog on the end. ‘Hello’, said the man in the tree and instantly regretted it as the sticky man pinned him with a look that was made of evil intent and hilarity in equal measures his smile was like a crescent moon and revealed sharp shark like teeth. However he didn’t reply and kept walking at a steady pace past the tree and into the maelstrom again though his eyes never left those of the man in the tree till he was gone.
The tree was dying, time was passing so fast that even the oldest tree ever, the oldest thing ever could not remain untouched by it, and as its bark and branches withered the man in the tree felt as if he were disengaging somehow, becoming loose becoming separated from the tree. This was new and disturbing as for nearly all of his existence the man in the tree thought that he was the tree. Now he realised that he must be something else.
A continues hissing filled his environment and now all was grey. The sticky man had made a few more appearances pulling the curtain of grey back revealing his head only, glaring at the man in the disintegrating tree for a while before disappearing again. This was all very disconcerting and a bit frightening, and being frightened was not a feeling that the man in what was left of the tree was used to feeling. Even when the men with the chain saw came after the big storm and cut off a branch that the winds had pulled down to the path.
The man shook his upper body and what was left of the tree fell and was turned into dust almost immediately; he tentatively pushed one foot forward. As he did everything changed. At this point the man now looked as if he were made of wood, not like a puppet but a sculpted figure of muscle and bone, human in construction yet made of many coloured and textured woods, a work of art some might say. The man did not feel like a work of art however he felt alone and vulnerable new born and weak. ‘What am I’, he said to himself, ‘where am I’. ‘I will tell you’, said the sticky man who had appeared again this time he revealed his whole self including two four legged creatures on the end of his lead, they were not dogs but their bodies could have been from some ancient mastive long since extinct, they had no head just the jaws of some form of reptile, they continually snapped; at what the man could not tell.
‘I’, said the sticky man, ‘will tell you what is, and when is, though I know not where’. As he said this the sticky man withdrew the grey shroud revealing total blackness the hissing noise stopped as well. The man felt himself in a vastness of nothing, he could not guess what he was standing on or if he was standing at all and not falling like a stone down a well. With no reference it was impossible to tell. ‘We stand at the end’, said the sticky man his grin widening ‘the end of everything, the end of the history of life and the end of everything that came after life. The end of the universe, and of all universes’. ‘Why are we here’ said the man, ‘the why the why of course the why, and of course how would you remember’.
The sticky man told his story; as he did everything of the nothingness of black started to turn to a nothingness of white.
We were born, brand new into a new beginning. Light, form, reality was created around us, we danced we found voice and we sang we found others likened to ourselves yet not the same and we used these for our pleasure our pain; they became our chattels and our armies as we fought each other for the right s of domination. There were rules however and though we knew of the rules we disregarded them, abused them and eventually usurped them completely. Eventually a time came when we had to pay for our recklessness and we were imprisoned in the tree of life forever but as we were being entombed I slipped away. You see we are one, me you and these, he pointed at the snapping creatures. We are one and the same being, I have worked long in the realm of life to learn the secrets of time and I had to reach the very end of everything to free you from the tree. Now we can be one again and start anew once more.
The man pondered on what the sticky man had said, if truth be told he didn’t like the sticky man at all, and as for the two creatures well he couldn’t believe that he could incorporate those two entities into himself without losing what he now thought of as himself. ‘And what of he that set the rules’, enquired the man. ‘Gone, gone, dead and gone, died with all life’ said the sticky man, though while he said this he looked sharply in many directions and the two creatures increased their snapping.
‘How will we start anew’, asked the man, and the sticky man sensing this as an acquiescence of sorts started to fidget and shuffle in anticipation as he told the man what they must do. ‘You must fill the canvas’ said the sticky man unfurling his free arm to encompass the white nothing, ‘for I cannot, I do not possess the’ here the sticky man paused as he searched for a suitable word ‘the skill’ he continued though the man thought that what he may have meant was the humanity. ‘You will paint a new life’. ‘How will I accomplish this feat’, asked the man. ‘With paint’ beamed the sticky man, and as he said this cans of paint of all colours appeared next to the man, all with a brush in the tin.
The man who used to be the man in the tree, thought long and hard, and he recognised that his thinking skills were coming on really well, and as he thought he constructed a plan. ‘I have never painted before, how will I start’ asked the man. ‘Easy’, scoffed the sticky man ‘I have made it simple for a person such as you, follow the numbers with the numbers on the paint can and we shall be as before’. The man noticed that the cans were numbered and now the white nothing had thin almost unnoticeable lines drawn in its nothingness and a small number in each corner. The man saw the sun drawn in the nothing and picked the brush in the yellow can the number one was on the can and also a number one in the drawing he touched the nothing with the brush and the sun shone. It was the real sun, he felt its warmth and saw its light and he was glad. ‘He he he!’ snickered the sticky man with the first real emotion the man had yet seen from him, and he capered back and forth. Next was green grass and the man painted one spot of a rolling field and a real landscape appeared below, sky followed then clouds. A farm house was brought into being by a touch of red to a brick in a wall and dwellings sprang to life all over. The man noticed that there were no trees in the picture and thought he knew why, ‘now the people, now the people and were done’ screeched the sticky man pointing at matchstick figures scattered around. The man picked a brush from a brown pot and on the sky line of a hill drew a tree.
The sun was up and the scent of fresh cut grass engulfed the field with its rich perfume, Watson was off his lead and sniffed a meandering trail up to the double trunked pine, turned squatted and did a poo! amongst its roots then he attempted to bury it by scrabbling his back feet, the man in the tree knew that in time that the manure would feed the tree and was on the whole pleased with Watson.