Max slept fitfully, he had expected to fall into a deep sleep, his body was weary and his head was pounding by the time he krept between the sheets. While his slumber was indeed deep, it was anythng by refreshing. He had never been one to suffer from nightmares, and so did not really know how to classify what he experienced that night. All he knew was that he closed his eyes and entered a strange world. A dark world with a red tinted sky, a barren almost post appocalyptic landscape with burnt out buildings and hot dry winds whistling through empty street. He was vaguely aware of his wife getting out of the bed, but she was always up early on a Monday as she went to the local farmer to get milk and eggs. After this all he remembered was falling, and there were flames surrounding him, licking at his skin but never actually burning him.
When he woke it was not so much a pleasant experience but one of relief. For a while he had even asked his dream self if it were possible he had died.
As he had guessed he was alone in the bed, and his wife, Audrey was nowhere to be seen.
After breakfast and a quick read of the newspaper Max decided it was time to get back to work. He had a horrible feeling gnawing at him now, and it had something to do with the tree. Even in the early morning light, and a cloudy sky the tree managed to cast long reaching shadows into the kitchen where he sat. Branches curling like fingers around his own arms and paper. They beckoned him as they rocked gently in the breeze.
A shudder ran through Max as he saw this. He watched the shadows as they flirted with him, and he felt the way his skin seemed to tighten over his entire body. By the time he stood up to get to work it felt at least two sizes to small for him.
Max left the house empty handed. He had searched high and low for the axe, which he was almost certain he had returned to its place in the garage which was annexed to the kitchen. In the end he convinced himself that he had left it down by the tree and had gone.
With each step he took down the garden path, a pain in his head began to grown. Not a headache exactly, but rather a feeling, one of dread. By the time he got to the tree itself he was actually afraid, his hands shaking, the hairs on the back of his neck standing erect as he sure feeling of being watched washed over him in waves. Several time he actually spun around, fully expecting to catch some.....one .... thing, he had no idea.
However, once he saw the tree, Max realised that his fear was right, there was no other emotion that could be felt. The ground was boggy underfoot, a thick dark liquid oozed from the wedge shaped gash that Max had carved into its flank the day before. He walked closer still, the liquid was thick, and didnt just seep from the trunk but poured from it. The flooded ground was not from a heavy dew as first thought, but from this.
Max touched the tip of his finger agaisnt it, leaning agaisnt the tree with his other hand, legs suddenly unstable. The tree was shaking, he could feel it tremble. The liquid was warm, it was tacky, but not like sap. Max rubbed his fingers together and then raised them to his nose.
He stumbled backwards, half gagging, half simply fleeing. The need to get away was matched by his sudden desire to be rid of the tree, fight or flight at its most prominant. It was now sap that oozed from the bough, but blood........