Last week, I took you on a virtual tour of Oneka Falls, NY, the fictional town at the center of the Demon King story. This week, let me introduce you to the tree in the center of the forest…
That’s him. Herlequin’s tree… You might be seeing nicely groomed grounds, a path, a light, a building, and maybe even a rather big lake, but I assure you, those are all hallucinations. Yeah. This tree is in the center of a creepy, creepy forest deep in the Southern Tier. It’s not on the shore of Lake Ontario. No, not in B. Foreman Park at all. I swear (though that park is awesome to nth power, and one of Supergirl’s and my favorite lunch destinations).
Yep. Creepy forest. Say it with me: “Creepy forest.” Good!
Also, those swings and park benches? Not there. Pure hallucinations on your part. The grills and picnic tables, too.
The first time I saw this massive tree, I said to Supergirl, “There’s a story in that tree.” At that time, I was still in the middle of getting Errant Gods ready to go, and Demon King was only a lurker in the back of my mind. Check out this picture:
If you write horror, it’s very easy to see that the knurls are really children’s heads and faces. Trust me, I’m a doctor.
At first, I thought this tree would be the star of its own story, separate from Toby and Benny’s tale, but as I wrote more and more of their story, the Tree demanded I give it a staring role in Demon King, and I always listen when creepy, children-trapping trees start making demands. At the time I added the tree to the tale, I had no idea to what extent that staring role would grow. Mr. Story is cool like that.
the shores of Lake Ontario…uh, I mean: the Southern Tier has had a lot of windstorms (it’s spring! maybe…) and Supergirl and I were worried about the tree. It’s old and riddled with cancer (knurls), so we took a trip to see it and to make sure we had a few good pictures of it before something untoward happened (like Benny… never mind, that’s a spoiler!), and as you can see in that first picture, the tree took a big hit. Originally, there were several younger trees in the park…uh, forest…that were like younger brothers to this big guy. They didn’t have his girth, his height, and they didn’t trip this horror writer’s imagination. Unfortunately, none of them survived this wind season.
I hope my friend, Herlequin the Tree, lives a much longer life. He’s seen a lot, I’d bet, and if he could talk, he’d tell you to RUN!