The Demon Tree episode of the Dark Fantasy radio series begins by introducing four friends who are on holiday but are not enjoying themselves.
They are bored and looking forward to the arrival of the night stage that will take them back to London. It is only three O’clock though and the stage does not arrive until eight so they decide to take a walk through the forest at the back of the inn. One of the friends, a man named Humphries, is particularly interested in taking a look at the forest because of a story that the night clerk told him.
The forest is apparently a gorgeous place with lots of beautiful foliage and clear water lakes, but nobody goes there because those who have done so in the past have never returned. Mr Danvers does not like the night clerk and calls him a superstitious fool. Mr Crane agrees with him and even recalls a story the clerk told him about a tree that strangles people.
Humphries thinks that the story of the tree is more than just superstition though and shows his friends a newspaper clipping the clerk dug out for him. It states that in London, England, on April 21st 1857, it was reported that Sir Horace Wakefield, Earl of Dorshire, was found strangled in Barlow Forest. His body was discovered entangled in the branches of a huge oak tree. The article then goes on to recall the weird tale of The Witch of Barlow Forest, who had cursed the earl’s ancestor and planted an acorn smeared in her own blood. The resulting demon tree was then believed to be able to move around in the forest.
This nasty little tale does not put the friends off going into the wood and they do find the tree. Or maybe it finds them.
Dark Fantasy Radio Show: The Demon Tree
(Listen to the Full Episode)