Saz and Jim saw it first. Or rather Saz did when Jim caught her and spun her round. ‘What’s that?’
Jim glanced back; his attention was elsewhere, now he’d caught her. ‘What?’
‘That tree. Stop Jim. It wasn’t there just now.’
Jim stopped. ‘What’d you mean? Trees don’t just ‘appear’.’ He looked where Saz stared. The tree, a fir, looked a bit odd but with the sun behind it, it wasn’t that clear and, anyway, Jim didn’t really care what it looked like. ‘It’s a tree. Come on. You promised me, if I caught you.’
Saz pulled away, annoyed that he wasn’t taking her seriously. ‘I’m telling you, it’s just appeared. There wasn’t anything there when I ran up the path. It was just some grass and the heap of ash where those weirdoes had that fire.’ She began to walk towards it.
Jim sighed and shaded his eyes. There was something odd about it, now he looked carefully. It was too even, like his dad’s stupid plastic Christmas tree, which he’d bought because the old man wanted them to be festive but it just made them sad. As he watched the top of her tree began to turn slowly. ‘Saz, wait. It’s moving.’ She didn’t appear to hear him, as she kept walking forward. ‘Saz, stop…’
A sharp pulse of light caught Jim unawares. It felt like he had been pushed in the face as he fell back on the grass. His last thought, as his head thumped against the hard ground and he passed out was why was his phone vibrating so hard?
When Jim came to, he felt for his phone first, before wondering why he was stretched out in the grass. No phone. He frowned. He was sure he had it and it was vibrating but his pocket was empty. Jim rubbed his head. It felt sore and rolled his neck to free an unpleasant stiffness. He must have tripped. Around the edge of the clearing, old logs had been positioned, like seats. Maybe he caught one of those when he walked after Saz. Was she with Jim? Jim tried to remember why he’d come to this spot. The old pit of ash in the centre had gone, replaced by some freshly dug earth, like his dad’s allotment in the weeks after his mum had left. Why would someone bother to dig over the ashes? What would they plant?
Jim stood and began to make his way back to the path. Where was his bloody phone and why had Saz left him?