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(You bury hatchets in trees, right?)

Flash fic challenge from HERE.

The fox sat in the mist, panting, its tongue lolled, its breath curling and mingling with the miasma that surrounded it. Behind it the tree stood, slumped and heaved over, protruding from the bank after the rain had loosened the soil. Even now it creaked as the ground shifted more, pebbles tumbling and a slick mass of damp earth sliding from around its roots, exposing them.

The fox turned and looked at the tree, seeming to sense that it something was wrong with it. Black-tipped ears pricked up and twitched and then the creature turned, loping away with envious ease, a twitch of its brush vanishing into the swirling vapour.

The tree groaned, again, the weight of its own trunk pulling it over, inch by grudging inch as the earth gave way. Leaves shook and quivered, shedding droplets of water onto the grass below. It was slipping faster now, moments from falling flat to the grass, to vanish into rot and ruin as the fox had vanished into the mist.

The moment came, the ground gave way with a final lurch and then…

Twisted branches shot out and braced the tree against the ground. Twigs spread amongst the grass and took its weight. The fall slowed, stopped and reversed. The crooked tree creaked and quivered, green shoots erupting from every point, questing outward like the spokes of some great wooden wheel.

The tree heaved forward, branched flexing until its swept-back leaves kissed the ground. It rolled, impossibly, pitching forward until its roots thrust up into white sky, bursting with green shoots and unfurling leaves, a second canopy of foliage at its other end. Higher and higher it stretched until it was straight as an arrow and then, crackling and twisting, it keeled over again.

Twist by twist, end over end, into vaporous brume.

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