Flash Fiction Challenge: Undeadwood

Photo by K.S. Brooks.

It wasn’t the hurricane: at least not directly. Maybe the storm winds had carried the virus from its point of origin.

By now, everyone knew about the zombie apocalypse. The human zombies had turned out not to be the worst problem.

Nobody had thought about the dead trees—or the undead trees as they were now known.

One of those damn trees got his dog. That was it for Mike. He eyed the sign one last time, fired up his chainsaw and stepped off the path…

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Undeadwood”

  1. The only thing between me and safety was a sign reading ‘danger.’ It swayed in the wind. The creak of the metal scraped in my ears as I looked at the dirt path beyond.

    The path wrapped around toward the other side of the mountain and as much as I would have loved to take that route- they were ahead searching for me. I’d be fairy flogged if I’d give up my bones to those sadistic elves of Elven Grasp.

    I tilted my head to glance around the sign and saw the upright dead woods as well as the fatal ones, strewn across the grounds. The elf tornadoes had no mercy on roots. I’d take my chances with the fallen logs.

    I slipped around the sign inching my way into the Dead Woods. The worst that could happen is I’d break a twig.


    Dragon farts! I turned to see what I’d stepped on and found all the trees had caved in behind me. Popping and snapping reached my ears; I swiveled toward the Dead Woods.

    Surrounded by trees.

    A chill slithered down my spine as the wind pushed me forward.

    “There’s the fairy!” I heard an elf call out.

    Without another thought, I darted into the trees. I didn’t care if the bark tore at my flesh, they wouldn’t have my bones. To my surprise, I easily slipped around the wood.

    Encouraged, I leaped and as I broke free of Elven Grasp, the sun breached the horizon.

  2. Mike stumbled out onto the dirt road just outside Rhododendron. He’d just cut his way through a quarter mile of hell. He’d seen a Norway Spruce violently attack a group of hardwood saplings before they too were turned into vicious attack trees which he had to mow his way through.

    Standing in the middle of the road, he tried to get his bearings by the location of the sun and the distance he reckoned he had traveled. After a moment, he turned his back to the afternoon sun and headed east toward the outskirts of town hopping to reach some of the cabins which dotted the nearby Zig Zag river. After a few minutes, he spied a mail box at the head of a small dirt driveway which led toward the river. He was sure to find shelter in one of the vacation homes nestled along the stream.

    Mike broke into a full run as the pine trees on either side of the narrow driveway lunged at him. He raced up the porch steps and banged on the door. Finding no one there, Mike broke out a window pane and dived into the front room of the cabin. It was then he felt the cabin trembling. Turning around slowly he saw the hundreds of volumes of literature – lovingly collected by the owner of the cabin – approaching him. As he was overcome by the hungry tomes his last words were, “Dead tree books, I should have known…”

  3. Another timberland-style killing. Five more skewered victims had been discovered. It looked like the undead trees were branching out.

    When felled timber refuses to log off, it’s a job for me: Paul Bunyan, Zombie Tree Killer. Time to sharpen my axe.

    With my blue ox, Babe, at my side, we headed into the deep woods. After many difficult miles through virgin forest we came to a copse of unrooted tree-corpses. All the most notorious zombie foliage was there: “The Widowmaker”. “Pine Barrens.” “Captain Acorn.” “The Mighty Oak.” “Weeping Willow.” “Treebeard.” “Stumpy.”

    I felt a sliver go up my spine and turned to find “Dutch Elm” with a twig against my back.

    “You’re really barking up the wrong tree this time, Bunyan” said Dutch.

    “Hello shrubs” I said. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there, does it make a sound?”

    Dutch lowered his twig. “Gee” he said. “You got me stumped!”

    “Not yet.” I replied. Before you could shout “Timber!” I wielded my mighty axe. Soon no zombie tree was left standing. I surveyed the kindling all around me. Placing my arm around Babe, I said, “Our job here is done. Time to leaf.” Babe just groaned, as she always does.

  4. Even over the chainsaw’s roar, Mike could hear the moaning. The dead trees lashed their branches so hard, it sounded like the hurricane still raged.

    But he had to find his dog. He pulled his baseball cap lower and grimly set his teeth. Chainsaw held before him like a shield, he advanced another few steps from the path.

    The trunk of the nearest tree split just above his head. He hefted the chainsaw above him and crouched. The saw carved him a hole in the branches – but they began moving toward him, their shivering leaves reaching to enshroud him. If those leaves stuffed his mouth and nose, he’d be a goner.

    He yelled and, holding the chainsaw before him, cut a path out of the fallen tree’s grasping branches. The severed limbs began to creep toward him.
    Then – a familiar yip! “Sparky!” he cried as the little dog barreled into Mike’s leg. “Hey, buddy,” he said, turning off the chainsaw. “How’d you get free?” As he patted the dog, fur came away in his hand.

    Then the little dog looked up at him with dead eyes.

    Mike swallowed hard. He knew what he had to do. He snatched up one of the creeping dead branches and, tossing the stick into the heart of the writhing tree behind him, yelled, “Fetch, Sparky!” Then he fired up the chainsaw and ran.

    On the path again, he mourned for Sparky – never noticing the tiny, festering bite on his right calf.

  5. Zombies or no, Mike was going to make sure the undead trees did not get another human or animal. His mastiff-bulldog mix meant everything to him, now he was gone—by the limbs and roots of undead trees of all things—it wasn’t supposed to be real.

    He grabbed his chainsaw and before he left the path into the forest next to his house, he contemplated cutting the sign down warning of the danger. It would be laughable if it was another time or place, but all the trees were far from dead; it wasn’t possible. Hurricane or no, something brought those trees to life. He’d make them pay.

    Mike walked several hundred yards into the forest and found himself in the middle of a circle of trees. He fired up his chain saw, wearily keeping an eye out for any strange movement. Cautiously, he stomped up to the first tree and slashed it. Then he strode over to the next tree, making a slash into its tough trunk. He noticed slight movement around him, but he was on a roll. At the next tree he made several deep gashes in the trunk and at the next, he cut all the limbs off within his reach.

    Suddenly, the trees all moved together, closer and closer until the circle around him got smaller. The last thing the trees heard as they whipped out their roots and swallowed the man whole was his dying scream as they buried him beneath them.

  6. “These country folks are cute!” That was Joe after he read the sign. “I mean, ‘Dead trees can be fatal’! What rubbish!”

    Joe is a scoffer. Not greedily consuming every scrap of food he gets hold of. No, “scoff” as in making fun of anything he doesn’t believe. I remember how he kept us entertained after reading an article predicting the banking bubble was going to burst.

    “This guy says at least one bank will go under!” he told us. “What planet is he on? Guys like that don’t understand how these new bundled assets work. The risk is so well spread that it couldn’t be safer.”

    Then we saw those pictures of people leaving their offices carrying archive boxes.

    I thought Joe learned his lesson.

    “Listen,” he said now, “animals are dangerous. Bears, tigers, lions; they can be fatal.” He ignored my interruption. “I know, this is not Africa, there are no lions or tigers.”



    “Tigers are from India. Lions are from Africa.”

    “India, Africa, whatever; the point is they can be fatal, trees can’t.”

    “And bears.”

    “Yeah, I said, bears can be fatal. Trees can’t.”

    Just then the bear came lumbering towards us and Joe fired off a shot. The bear’s weight gave it the momentum to keep coming. Joe fired his second barrel. The bear fell against a tree trunk.

    “See,” Joe turned to me. “Bears not trees.”

    “Look out!” My shout was too late. That tree must have been dead. It was certainly fatal.

  7. Leafy greens covered the trees around Mike. He shifted the gas filled backpack, hoping it would be sufficient. The blowtorch and chainsaw were standard equipment since the zombie apocalypse. Somewhere in here was a whole forest of mobile undead trees. Ravenous, leafless, oh, and of course brainless, the zombie trees struck without warning. Last night they grabbed the best damned dog Mike ever had. He was going to destroy them.

    A strange sound drifted with the wind, rising and falling with the lilting sound of a song bird. Mike followed the sound, keeping alert for the telltale creaking and moaning that the undead trees made, and a sharp eye for leafless trees. If this led to his death, so be it. The song grew more distinct and he began to catch odd lyrics about a brook tripping and falling and praying larks. Beyond a stand of bamboo, in a wide clearing, Mike spied a nun perched on a large rock.

    “Come closer, Mike. I assure you I am very much alive and unafflicted with zombieism.”


    “Do I know your name?” she said, with a big grin. “Rover, of course. My name is Sister Mary Margaret. No time to talk. I’ll lull the trees. The rest is up to you.”

    She picked up her ukulele and began strumming the melody to “My Guy.” Those zombies never stood a chance. A sharp wind cleared the smoke from the smoldering deadwood. With a wave, Sister Mary Margaret flew away carrying her ukulele.

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