Recently, The Poughkeepsie Journal selected its winners for the annual Scary Story Contest, and once again local talent has stood out. Pawling Middle School student Christian Facchin won Second Place. According to his Seventh Grade Language Arts teacher, Linda Chase, “In all these years entering, we’ve always won either first, second, or Honorable Mention. This year there were over 600 entries…Pawling students are writers!!!”
PPR is very pleased to share the long version of Christian’s story with you. To read more of the winning entries or to learn more about this contest check out the Scary Stories website at www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/scarystories
“But, Only God Can Make a Tree…or Not”
by Christian Facchin
I should never have taken a bite from that apple. I remember when my family brought me to Smith’s Orchard for a day of apple picking. We got on the hayride and the old man driving the tractor called back to us over the noise of the engine. “You got yer McIntoches on the left, an’ here are yer Golden Delicious. Feel free to try whatever ya like. Just be sure to not go past that fence back there. That ain’t part of our orchard. Belongs to crazy old Farmer Johnson next door.” The ride stopped and we got off to walk through the rows of apple trees. I didn’t want to be there and I kept wandering off because I was bored. My family was way ahead of me and I went through an opening in the fence to do some exploring. I wish now I had listened to the man on the tractor.
After walking a while, I found some more trees with the best looking apples I ever saw. They were huge and red and looked delicious. I went to pick one and noticed a tag tied to the branch that stated, “Experimental. Do not pick or eat apples from this tree.” I looked around and noticed they all had tags like this. The warning on the tag made me want to try one even more. Since there was no one else around, I tried one anyway. It was the juiciest, sweetest apple I ever ate. When all I had left was the core, I saw an even better looking apple at the top of the tree. I started to climb up the branches to reach it. The knots in the trunk looked like eyes. It was as if the tree knew I was doing something wrong and was staring at me. It frightened me and I jumped down. Out of the corner of my eye, I could have sworn I saw one of the tree’s knots blink at me. I ran as fast as I could back through the fence to my family. My mom yelled at me for wandering off and we went home.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about that apple at the top of the tree. I had to taste it. I snuck out of the house and hopped on my bike. On my way to the orchard, I couldn’t stop thinking about that apple. It was driving me crazy! When I arrived at the orchard, the sign said “Sorry, we’re closed.” I knew once again I was doing something my mother wouldn’t like, but I went in anyway to satisfy my craving. I left my bike at the gate and made my way through the fence to Johnson’s orchard.
The wind wailed in the trees. The branches swayed back and forth as if they were trying to warn me away. But I needed my apple. I saw the one I wanted as the full moon reflected off its waxy surface. I ran towards the tree, climbed up, and picked the apple. I bit into its crunchy flesh and immediately felt strange. My body felt heavy, as if drawn to the ground. Each step grew more and more difficult. I couldn’t walk anymore. The apple fell from my hand and when I looked down, I screamed. In place of my feet were roots! As I stood there crying out for help, no one answered but the moans of the apple trees. My arms froze in place and I felt leaves bursting from my fingers. I heard the approach of heavy footsteps. I saw a man in overalls approach and I could tell right away it was old Farmer Johnson. He had a white beard and a crazy look in his eyes. He laughed as he tied a piece of paper to my arm. I read what it said on the tag: “Experimental. Do not pick or eat apples from this tree.” As I felt the rest of my body freezing up, a terrifying thought came to me. All of the trees in this orchard were people!
Maybe Farmer Johnson thought that people would make the best fruit of all, or maybe he was just rotten to the core… in any case I will have a long time to think about it. Now, every autumn when another foolish child sneaks through the fence to Farmer Johnson’s orchard, I try to warn them away. No matter how hard I try, all they see are the waving of my branches and my tempting, red apples.