Green Magic: 1. Green Magic

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1. Green Magic

The sign pointed left, "To San Francisco," and a smooth, paved road beckoned. To the right, a leaf-strewn track dwindled to darkness under the tall trees.

She pressed on the brakes and brought the car to a gentle stop. "Hey, kids," their mother said, as she turned away from the steering wheel to see their faces, "who's up for some adventure?"

Lit with the ferocious energy of a seven-year-old, Andy bounced up and down on the back seat. "Me! Me!"

But the loutish teenager in the passenger seat sat silent, scowling at his Game Boy, his fingers working the buttons as feverishly as his jaw chewed the gum in his mouth. His acne glistened.

With a roll of her inward eye, she forced a smile. "Come on, Jimmy, it'll be fun," she pleaded.


"Watch that tone, young man," she said, hoping it sounded stern. She got no reply. "Okay, you stay in the car. Andy and I will go for a short walk."She took his sullen silence for acquiescence.

Andy burst out of the car and skipped ahead. She followed him, admiring the huge redwoods towering over the green path. Ahead, golden light streamed into a break in the forest canopy. We'll head there and see what there is to see.

Ahead of them perched a little cabin made of weathered, grey logs. An old sign, the letters worn and faded, stood in front: "U.S. Forest Service." But for the neatly stacked pile of wood to the side, she would have taken it to be abandoned.

A Ranger station, I suppose, she thought, as she walked up to the door, which stood ajar. But instead of an information desk and a wall of souvenirs, she found a snug little room, looking like it could have been transported from a Hollywood set for a wilderness adventure movie. A table fashioned of slabs of wood roughly hewn stood against the far wall, a tidy basket of red apples in the exact center.

Not wanting to disturb anyone's privacy, she turned back--Andy, suddenly shy, followed close behind--and walked around to the back, in time to see a man in faded Ranger's garb stomping out of the trees into the clearing behind the house. A tall battered hat, crowned with a blue feather, perched atop a flourishing head of brown hair. His bushy brown beard flowed down his patched shirt; his feet bore huge, shiny yellow boots caked with mud. He sang in a lusty baritone a cheerful song of utter nonsense, as far as she could tell.

His bright blue eyes fastened on hers and he stopped suddenly. Taking off his tall hat, he bowed. "Welcome, lady."

"Why, hello," she said. "Are you the Ranger here?"

"Ah!" said the man. "Truth be told, they've forgotten about my post in Washington. But old Tom's still here, guarding the woods."

An eccentric, she decided, one of those nature fanatics. "It's lovely!" she said. "May I walk around? Are there trails?"

"Oh, indeed," he answered. "But you must take care which you choose. The closed trails here mean business," he said, his face suddenly serious. "Down in the gully the trees just don't like creatures on two feet."

A whimsical fellow to be sure, she thought, and smiled. "Are there mountain lions?"

"Oh, no," Tom said. "The trees don't like them much either, and they know it. But you'll be fine if you just stay away from the stream. The trail along the top is lovely." He pointed to a green path disappearing under a stand of birches.

"Thanks," she said. "Come on, Andy."

"But mind," said Tom, wagging a broad finger, "don't follow any paths going down the slope. Those trees have black hearts."

"Oh, I'll take care," she said, laughing, and taking Andy's hand, she set off.

She breathed deeply, enjoying the clean, fresh scent of the air, laden with the aroma of tree and leaf. So peaceful, especially with Jimmy in the car, she thought ruefully. I ought to have left him at Alcatraz.

"Mom," said Andy, "how can a tree have a black heart?"

"The man is teasing us, don't you think? We can have a real adventure, what do you say? Let's pretend some of the trees are watching us."

"Oh, goody!" he cried. Breaking his hold on her hand, he ran ahead. Suddenly, his red coat disappeared, as if swallowed by the trees.

"Andy," she called, a surprising alarm seizing her. "Don't wander off." She picked up her pace, calling again, "Andy!"

"I'm here, Mom! Come look!"

She turned a sudden bend in the path to see him a few feet down a steep trail that led off to the right. "No, sweetie, the Ranger said not to go off the main path."

Even before she finished speaking, he scrambled down a mossy rock.

"Andy!" There was no answer. Dammit, she thought. But there was no help for it, she had to follow. Past the rock, the trail plunged swiftly down, veering left. The tall, slim birches gave way to old gnarled oak; labyrinthine branches crept toward the sky, laden with deep green leaves. The fresh breeze died away, and the forest grew suddenly quiet. Looking up, she saw through the leaves a knotted old trunk with a great warty nose and two deep holes where the eyes should be.

"Andy!" she called again.

"Here, Mom!" And sure enough, there he was, as if the trees had pitched him out from their hoary branches.

"Come here at once," she ordered. Relieved anxiety flooded her.

"What's the matter?" Andy giggled. "The trees scare you?"

"Of course not," she lied, "but we aren't supposed to be down here. Let's go back." She took Andy's hand and they turned around, but they had not gone far before she stopped. "This is odd. The path is going down and to the left again." She gazed right and up, but a thick army of trunks was all she saw. I must be dreaming, she thought, a strange calmness swathing her like a cloak. It's so silent, like a church. I almost want to nap on a heap of leaves.

The path was rough, rocky, lined with huge ferns that smelled of her grandmother's herb garden. Keeping a tight hold on her son's small hand, she had no choice but to continue down, slowly, for the path was laden with branches, bits of slippery moss, and wet leaves. Once, when she placed her foot carefully over a twisty root, it almost seemed as if the root grabbed her ankle. I must need Prozac, she thought, dreamily. Trees that move.

The heavy air whispered of sleep, interrupted only by the sound of trickling water. They came suddenly upon a deep chasm with rich green-brown water dancing across rocks and fallen logs.

"Oh, dear," she said. "Let's stop a minute, sweetie."

Lay down your head, my daughter, be at peace.

She found a log lying close to a huge, twisted old trunk where they could sit and rest their backs.

Andy rubbed his eyes. "Mom?"

"Yes, sweetie."

"I'm tired."

"Put your head in my lap. We'll just sit for a bit."

She closed her eyes, stroking her son's soft hair.

Sleep, lay down your troubles. Give up your cares to the Old Mother. Sleep, my daughter, my son, sleep. Lie still, now, my leaves will cover you. No cold, no snow, no wet will find you. My branches will shelter you, the earth will welcome you.

A vigorous yell woke her, and a pair of bright blue eyes shattered the green magic.

"Go back to bed, Old Mother!" shouted Tom the Ranger. "Leave these people be! They are not your kind, not for you to lull with your tree song!"

A sudden crack, and she felt as if she had popped out of an oaky coffin. Andy yawned beside her. "What? What happened?" she said, baffled with sleep. She could have sworn that Tom was singing into a crack in the hoary bark. A tremor shook the tree, and a deep sigh rose from the earth.

"Come now," said Tom. "Tom will show you the way."

They followed him in wonder up the path, which now, unaccountably, ran straight and firm, seemingly well-traveled. He sang as he stomped up the slope, his voice echoing through the valley.

They said goodbye at the Ranger station.

"You see now," said Tom, winking. "The old Forest Service does know a thing or two about trees. Mind where you step, now! Follow the marked trails!"

Relieved, and suddenly happy, she took Andy's hand and they set off for the car.

"Just wait till we tell Jimmy about our great adventure," she said.

"He won't care," Andy said. "He'd rather play Demons and Devils."

She sighed. Well, he's my son all the same.

But the car, when they got there, was empty. A leaf-strewn jacket trailed out of the open door. Resting on its muddy sleeve, the Game Boy flashed a message: "Game Over."

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Gandalfs apprentice

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/02/08

Original Post: 10/08/06

Go to Green Magic overview


WARNING! Comments may contain spoilers for a chapter or story. Read with caution.

Green Magic

Dwimordene - 04 Jan 07 - 8:19 AM

Ch. 1: Green Magic

Hi GA,

I just saw this had been reviewed, and I'm so pleased! I love the way you've integrated one of the most stubbornly enigmatic and idiosynchratic of Tolkien's characters into a modern day journey under the hill, as it were.

(Although I still find it rather unfair of you to leave us wondering about the other son. Perhaps, however, that is part of its eerie charm.)


Green Magic

Gandalfs apprentice - 04 Jan 07 - 4:42 PM

Ch. 1: Green Magic

Hi, Dwim: thanks for the kind words on my story. This particular character strikes me as by far the most American of all Tolkien's creations. He just had to turn up in California! As for the other son: well, part of the challenge was to write an ending with a twist. 

Green Magic

Dwimordene - 05 Jan 07 - 8:28 AM

Ch. 1: Green Magic

This particular character strikes me as by far the most American of all Tolkien's creations.

Tom Bombadil, hippy at large. ;-) Somehow, I just never saw that until this story! But now that you mention it, yes, California, and somewhere up north, sort of around Berkeley, would be the place for him...

As for the other son: well, part of the challenge was to write an ending with a twist.

Yes, but now I have visions of the poor kid getting raised by Bombadil and becoming a Thomas the Rhymer analogue--disappears for seven years only to return one day unable to do anything but speak the truth in hip-hop rhyme...


Green Magic

Maeve Riannon - 05 Jun 07 - 1:55 PM

Ch. 1: Green Magic

Scary. I actually found myself cheering at the ending. ;=)

This is a nice and light tale that blends Middle-Earth with our world quite effectively. *Too* effectively, maybe. I must confess that this Tom Bombadil felt far more sympathetic and natural to me than the book one. Maybe it´s because book Tom feels too eerily modern, too much like a Father Christmas or something of that kind....  and this feels a bit jarring in an ancient mythology^_^


Green Magic

AFriedman - 17 Oct 07 - 10:53 AM

Ch. 1: Green Magic

True dat.  The forests of Tolkien's world are very different from the forests of our own--unless you think about the California redwoods...  That's precisely the place where a Bombadil would belong.  AFriedman

Green Magic

Sulien - 02 Dec 09 - 3:52 AM

Ch. 1: Green Magic

Anywhere redwoods grow is my favorite place to be and I can imagine that old Tom would definitely be drawn to the redwoods, especially there in Humboldt County where they still have a few groves of the beautiful old growth trees.  I have often found myself wishing that Tom, Treebeard and the other Ents were still around to help protect my beloved redwoods.  Thank you kindly for sharing this, I enjoyed it greatly!

Also, did you know that there is a redwood Ent who has gone treeish in Henry Cowell State Park?  He's a fairly short way along the main loop trail on the right side if you walk the trail from the end point to the beginning.  You can't miss him, he's got both arms upraised to the sun. ;-)

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Playlists Featuring the Story

JunoMagic's Birthday Stories Playlist 2006 - 5 stories - Owner: JunoMagic
It's so amazing, I got stories with multiple chapters dedicated to my birthday this year! As you can't really add those to an ordinary birthday card story, I've decided to make a playlist for those stories. Here's what I asked for: I'm turning 31 on October 23, and here's my wish: I'd like to see characters from "Lord of the Rings" in our world. So that would be (depending on your interpretation of what Middle-earth is) a drabble/ficlet that crosses time and/or dimensions. The only caveat: please no parody or something like that! (For one thing, that would be too easy *wink*; for another, my husband says I have no sense of humour to begin with...). If that idea inspires anyone at all, I would be very grateful!
Included because: GA wrote this great and scary story for me and IgnobleBard. It's brilliant. Thank you again!

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