Day 337: Junder the Tree Puller

Junder used to be an angry troll, which was a lot like saying the sun used to be bright. His friend Garbol had changed him. Turned him docile. Given him purpose.

The troll remembered the days when he sat on the men he caught, crushing them to jelly for a delicious meal, but he’d learned to be satisfied with the meats the men supplied him.

His life was tree removal. His bosses appreciated him for it, a feeling he’d never known among his own, but coworkers mostly resented him. He could accomplish more than the entire team in a day, pulling trees up by their roots and clearing away several tons with his bare hands.

A family with three kids had just purchased a house, and Junder’s foreman, Rocky, instructed him to remove a dying cottonwood in the back yard. He bent his knees and wrapped his arms around the bole.

“Don’t rip out my tree,” said a voice.

Junder released it and stepped back. “I have to.”

“This tree is my home.”

Junder scratched his chin. “It belongs to the people who live in this house.”

“I’ve lived here far longer than they. What right do they have over my home?”

“Uh… It is a dead tree. It will fall on their children.”

“What right do their children have over centuries of occupation?”

Junder grimaced. “I don’t know.”

“Go away and leave my tree alone.”

Junder plodded to the front yard where Rocky and his crew worked on an elm branch overhanging the house.

“Done already?” asked Rocky.

“He doesn’t want me to pull it.”

“What? Who? The owner?”

“No,” Junder rubbed his head. “The… the thing.”

“What thing?”

“It lives in the tree.”

Rocky handed a chainsaw to the next guy on the branch. “I tell you what. You tell the thing to come see me, and while it’s here, pull the tree.”

Junder wrinkled his nose and trudged back to the cottonwood.

“My foreman wants to see you.”

“I don’t want to see the foreman.”

Junder scratched his chin. “He’s the boss.”

“He has no right.”

“Who are you?” asked Junder.

“I am the master of this tree.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m inside, dunderhead.”

“Junderhead… Junder.”

“This is my tree.”

“It could fall on the children.”

“I don’t care. They have no right.”

Junder lumbered to the front. “He says I have no right to pull the tree.”

“Did you tell him to come up here?” asked Rocky.

“He refused.”

“What the hell.” Rocky spat and let himself down the tree with the rope. “Show me.”

They approached the cottonwood.

“Where is this guy?” asked Rocky.

“In the tree.”

Rocky walked around the bole. “That’s impossible, Junder. This thing isn’t hollow.”

Junder shrugged.

“Pull it,” said Rocky.

“You have no right,” said the voice.

Junder looked at Rocky.

“What are you waiting for?”

“Didn’t you hear him?”

“I didn’t hear a thing. Pull it.”

“You have no right. You have no right. You have no right.”

“Go on,” said Rocky.

Junder nodded and Rocky trotted to the front.

The troll grabbed the tree and pulled.

“You have no right. You have no right. You have no right.”

He ripped the tree from the ground and lay it down gently.

As the dirt shook out of the roots, a tree demon, a vaguely bipedal mass of red roots with tumor-like growths all over, dropped out and screamed. “You had no right to do that. How dare you. How dare you. No right.”

Junder scratched his chin. “I don’t know what that means, but he’s the boss.”

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