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(This is the end of A Walk in the Wood. We’ll let it rest for a few weeks before putting up a final version. It’s in need of some editing I think. Maybe a few para’s about the narrator’s past as a tree. I’ll see. Oh, and also change Adolf’s name to a simple A. No need to make things too obvious, now, is there?



Anyway, that day was the last time I saw old Adolf, something like well over 800 years ago. I hear about him, obviously, and he seems to be doing all right this days, but, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like bursting in on him for old times’ sake. He has other friends now, anyway, and from what I hear he keeps busy.

So do I, by the way. So do I. I am still cutting down the trees in Lehnsherr Woods, after all. So, in a way, you might say that day was a turning point for both of us. I also have a few people, now, working with me. Nothing as grandiose as what Adolf has put together, of course, but it helps. We do good work. Back on Earth, I would have said we do God’s work, but then back on Earth I was an ignorant and righteous little sod.

Together we cut down the trees and strip them of as much wood as we can. It’s a tough job and not for the faint hearted: there is a lot of blood and gore, as I have said, and also, once they heal enough to have a voice, there are the screams… But, you know, it has its satisfactions: after a while you get to see them walk again…

I still got the axe, of course. Couldn’t do the job without him. Want to see it? Here. As shiny and sharp as the day it was made. I cannot let you talk to him, I am afraid: it’s rather a long and gruesome process, which involve the shedding of much blood and – what else? – quite a lot of pain. But I still do it regularly. It is necessary.

You see, inside my axe is an old man. The same way there are people inside the trees. He’s been here far longer than anyone I know and I reckon he may be the holiest person in Hell.

The Others put him there, as I suspected; they made it so that each blow given with the axe is like the shattering of all his bones. Each time I strike with it, he breaks; and each time I raise it, he heals. And the blade is always sharp.

He doesn’t want to be free, though. I could do it, you know. It would be difficult, and painful – ain’t that a surprise! – but it can be done. But he won’t let me. He knows our mission. He knows that we are slowly working our way toward the abolition of pain. He knows that we need an axe. He endures.

He refuses to tell me his name. I don’t know why he is here. I don’t know why a man such as him can be sent down here, because I don’t think that he was that different on Earth. My guess is: he was a holy man in the wrong religion. These things happen.

Sorry but, I’ve got to go now. Those trees won’t cut themselves down, you know, although you could be sure they would if they could. It was nice to talk to you, guys, even if, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really know why Adolf’s people keep asking me to do it. Really, I don’t think there is anything I could say that three centuries of lying on this cold, hard ground didn’t teach you. But the good news is that, when they ask me to come here and talk to you, it usually means your time is nearly done. A couple more years at the most, maybe.

How do you feel about that, I wonder. Maybe you are scared of the pain? Well, I can only say: don’t worry too much. Once these ropes are taken away, you’ll soon be able to walk normally. Although I better warn you: it will hurt for a while.

But by now you should know the truth about pain. In this place, as on Earth, it was never a virtue. And now it’s no longer even a certainty. And you can be sure it was never any use. But at least it’s a shared experience. It will help you blend in.