The Hidden Tree

I remember the first time that my parents let me come with them to work. Most kids might have been stuck in a bland office on bring-your-kids-to-work day. Not me. My parents worked out in the sun, surrounded by nature, hunting down ancient artefacts.

My parents had never looked cooler. To my seven-year-old self, their lives were straight out of an action-adventure movie. They were my real-life Indinna Jonesies. We had wandered up the side of a mountain in search of an ancient scroll. It was perfect. They had even packed a picnic. 

At the top, where the canopy thinned enough to create a natural lookout, we ate whilst drinking in the surrounding treescape. Melbourne had been a tiny speck in the distance, glistening towers tiny sparkles on a horizon that stretched for infinity.

I had taken over the family business of investigating the paranormal when I turned eighteen. Today, the people in town would know me as an arborist. I had managed to sneak my way into an inner-city grove that was said to house some of the most beautiful ornamental trees in the world, with the promise I would survey the ‘health’ of the trees.

There were rumours in town that the root systems burrowed under the houses, wrapping around drainage pipes and – this was the part that brought me there – pulsed with a sweet song in the dead of night. 

The grove had become overgrown with time, making my journey difficult. Under the bushes and leaves, there were hints of dozens of cut down trees. Whilst I saw signs of stump removal near me, it looked like the once-maintained paradise had slowly lost funding over the years.

It did not affect the beauty of the place. The garden had an ethereal presence that pushed me further into the thicket. Eventually, the small underbrush transformed into a grove of fruit trees. The towering skyscrapers above me became obscured by the thick canopy.  I had found the heart of the garden. 

Glancing at my watch, I knew it would be dark soon. The song would begin.

Pranks Heat Up

It had been a few months since Goob had begun his ghostly shenanigans of messing with the heating and cooling systems of Melbourne residents. In that time, he had perfected the art of imitating the strange noises that would come from a faulty air con to trick his victims into booking a service for their perfectly functional air conditioners.

His true moment of enlightenment came when he first possessed an air conditioning unit. It had been surreal but rewarding. Despite not having a body, his spirit felt cramped as it pushed its way between wires and dodged electrical currents. 

With practice, he had gotten so good that his control over the units was unbelievable. One day he possessed one boutique store’s unit and found by manipulating the currents that he could control all of the air conditioning systems near South Yarra – those that needed servicing, at least.

As time and the seasons passed by, the temperatures began to drop. It wasn’t just the cooling systems that began to be used. His pranks, whilst holding the same foundation in confusing the living, had to adapt. Soon after he was convincing folks all over that they needed to book in for a heater repair. Cheltenham all the way down to Frankston was buzzing with confused phone calls and internet posts.

Every little mumbled frustration or scratched head made him feel more and more seen. It had been so long since he’d been alive that he had almost forgotten how it felt to be heard. Whilst they weren’t talking about him exactly, it was leagues ahead of feeling ignored and forgotten. 

There were moments when he would feel remorse creep into his ghostly body. It didn’t help that his ghost pals didn’t approve of his newfound hobby. To cope with the growing emotions, he distracted himself by finding new ways to trouble the living. It was becoming a bad habit, but it was better than having to sit with his thoughts.

He didn’t realise until it was too late the damage he was causing.