where is the tree? | By: jona rafol | | Category: Short Story - Nature Bookmark and Share

where is the tree?

In June, when Charles and his brother, Andrew, went to enroll in the state college, they had no inkling that before the year ended they would give the Campus quite a jolt, strong enough to register on a seismograph.
                        Baranggay Malitbog, where the state college is located, lies in the bottom of the mountain range. It is barrio in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, which has suddenly awakened to modernity. This is mostly due to the presence of the stage college which serves the needs of the student to agriculture and allied sciences.
                        Everything in Baranggay Malitbog appears to have been deliberately placed for effect. The scenery is picturesque. There is the state college whose modern buildings nestle serenely in a lush green valley. The faculty and student cottages hug the hill-sides. Like a lady’s shawl, the forest wraps the mountain range. Century- old acacia tree with their crown of green foliage stand guard like sentinels at the foot of the hills. A bubbling brook curls around the rice fields and bamboo groves. A waterfalls gently cascades among boulders. The sky is of purest blue. Clean and fresh is the air, at times jasmine, ilang-ilang scented.
                        The Malitbog residence looks at their barrios as a city. Indeed it has the glitter and the skyline of a real city. Its population is cosmopolitan. However, the noise of a real city is not to be found in Malitbog. It has neither the strong nor the hurried pace. Evenings are quite. The pace is dreamy, leisurely, and unhurried. Everything is natural. Nothing strained. There is, too, the impression of space and freedom.
                        Charles was fifteen and he was illegible for the third year in the laboratory school. His brother Andrew was fourteen and a second year high school student. Both were tall, husky, and big for their ages. Charles was a born gardener. He liked working with plants. In the college, he tended a vegetable garden.
                        In the state college, all the students were trained to be self-reliant. In the dormitories or colleges, they did their own cooking, did their own laundry, and raised their own vegetables.
                        Charles and Andrew were not used to this kind of life. They did not come from a family. But they doing their household and farm chores. In no time at all they learned to keep in step with the pace of campus life.
                        It was a late in the evening in November. The curfew bell had just been rung by the college guard on duty. As Charles walked toward the cottage, he met Andrew running down the hill. He was panting and looking as if he had seen o ghost. Pointing in the direction of the college ranch, his eyes as big as sauces, he gasped, “A UFO just landed!”, Andrew’s breath threatened to give out.
                        Charles looked at his brother with a mixture of disbelief and mild shock. He thought Andrew had overstretched his imagination as a result of the news item about a UFO having been seen in Laoag City and Masbate.
                        “How do you know it’s a UFO?’’ Charles demanded, unconvinced.
                        “It’s a UFO”, Andrew was certain.
                        “What does it look like?” Charles was still unconvinced that Andrew had seen a UFO.
                        “It’s like a giant, egg-shaped floating thing glowing like a firefly, only much, much bigger”.
                        In a few minutes, the brothers heed away through the trees, toward the ranch. Breathing heavily, they clambered about boulders. About fifty yards below an apparently in accessible ledge, the mystery from the sky lay. It was a big bowl with its bottom up. It had no lights. Like a chameleon, it merged into its environment. For some time the boys stood gazing at the strange object.
                        “Let’s take a closer look”, Charles suggested.
                        “No”, Andrew said. Across his brain flashed the memory of the young Australian pilot who disappears after seeing the UFO.”Let’s get away from here quickly. We must tell the guard on duty.” Andrew started to walk away.”Come on,” he argued Charles.
                        Charles hesitated. Then without warning, he ran down to the spot where the mysterious object lay. He touched the surface. It was smooth. Charles motioned Andrew to join him. At first Andrew was undecided. Finally, he was persuaded to get down.
                        The boys prowled about the unfamiliar thing. They ran their palms over its surface, smelled it, and placed their ears against it. They climbed up the done-like part and sat down on a big boulder. Nothing happened.
                        After almost an hour of waiting, Andrew said, “Let’s tell the guard about this thing”.
                        “Do you think he will believe us? This is a stone. It looks as if it has been here all the time”, Charles remarked.
                        “What shall we do?” asked Andrew.
                        “Nothing. Wait and see,” Charles said.
                        Suddenly they become aware of a strange unseen thing. Unfamiliar noises rose from the surroundings. They had the sensation of being lifted gently, but they did not have the will to get away. Before they knew it, they found themselves in a big room with walls like crystal cobwebs. A gentle coolness, not entirely different from the air-conditioned room, enveloped them.
                        A bell rang melodiously. Three very beautiful girls with crystal head coverings appeared from nowhere. In the hands of two of them were glass head covering, not unlike those worn by astronauts. Charles eyed with curiosity and suspicion.
                        Motioning to the boys, one of the girls said, “Put this on, please”. She appeared to be the leader. She handed a helmet to each of them. The boys obeyed mechanically.
                        Overawed but unafraid, the boys wondered what it all meant. But they dared not ask questions. The boys and their female escorts passed through an arch marked TIME PARK. Then come upon a closed gate on which was written YEAR 2010. As they approached, the gate automatically opened. They made their way along a sunken road. On either side was a great expanse of treeless land. Stones of various sizes littered the barren mountain ranges and the cracked ground. Not a spring of green anywhere. All around was wasteland.
                        “What is this all about? Can you please tell us?” Charles asked unleashing his curiosity.
                        “You saw that arch marked TIME PARK?”The leader asked with a poker face. The boys nodded.
                        “This is a preview of the planet earth in the year 2010”, she informed them.
                        “You mean ....this is the earth will be in the year 2010?” chorused the boys in surprise. “But where are the trees?”
                        “They withered and disappeared”, the leader explained.
                        “Why? ” Charles was puzzled. “How could the trees just disappear?”
                        “Human carelessness and lack of concern”’, she said in a sepulchral tone.” People invented machines not only for their convenience but for destruction. Their bulldozers ploughed through forest and felled trees. Their cars belched poisonous fumes into green trees, made their leaves curl and wither.”
                        “I don’t see people. There isn’t anyone alive in there!” Andrew was frankly appalled.
                        “Are you kidding?” remarked Charles.
                        “ How can one live in a place without trees!”
                        Suddenly darkness wrapped the landscape. Boulders tottered on the hill sides. Whirling water thundered from the mountain slopes. The plains were filled with churning mud. Stones were swallowed up as if by quicksand.
                        “Time’s up.” A soft feminine voice called.
                        All at once Charles was sharply conscious of joyous sounds which reminded him of the excited twittering and chirping of mayas cavorting among the leafy branches of the acacia tree by their cottage. He became aware of dew drench leaves and the scent of Earth. He rub his eyes to find himself and Andrew perched on top of the biggest and oldest acacia tree on the campus. To the boy’s amazement, an excited crowd of student and teacher had gathered around the tree.
                        “What happened? Why are we up here on top of this acacia tree?” Charles was the first to find his voice.
                        “Search me!” Andrew said uneasily.
                        “Hey! Come down here.”The voice belonged to Mr. Fernandez, one of the vo-ag teachers.
                        “I couldn’t understand it. The last thing I knew I was seeing water everywhere,” Charles remarked.       
                        Self- consciously the two brothers got down the tree. As soon as their feet touch the ground they were bombarded with questions. The principal herded them to his office.
                        “Why were you up there in the tree?” He asked
                        “We don’t know Sir.” They answered.
                        “It was all aglow. We trough you had set the tree on fire” He remarked.
                        For a moment Charles and Andrew look at each other, neither showing any understanding of what happened.          
                        Andrew (Flat character)
                        Charles (Flat Character)
                        Mr. Fernandez (Flat Character)
            SETTINGS: School
PLOT: When Charles imagines the result of the news item about the UFO having been         seen in Laoag City and Masbate.
            POINT OF VIEW: Omniscient point of view
            DIALOGUE: “Why were you up there in the tree?” He asked
                        “We don’t know Sir.” They answered.
                        “It was all aglow. We trough you had set the tree on fire” He remarked.
            Prepared by: Jona R. Rafol
                                     BSEd- 301
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