The tree had stood there for a long time, thousands of years. She’d observed many events as the rain had washed her and the soil fed her and her trunk had grown thick and her branches towered into the sky.
Many of her compatriots had perished, mostly from lightning or fire. Just over there was another ancient tree like herself, but they were too far from one another to talk. Every few years they cast glances at one another, to make sure each still stood.
The old redwood had witnessed the death of many a deer, the murder of many a bear, the tussle of many a man and woman. Some had used her girth for cover, to hide or to ambush. Sometimes it had worked, sometimes not. She’d tasted the blood that had seeped into the earth at her base, absorbed into her roots.
Birds had nested in her branches for generations. Bears had climbed her in fear of human predators, and her trunk was forever scarred by the marks of their claws. Once she’d been shot by an arrow, and the stone of its head was still nestled deep in her fibres.
But things were changing. The water that washed her sometimes stung and burned. The air choked her and the rays of the sun’s rays weren’t as healthful as they once were. More people came now, tramping her roots, compounding the soil, making it harder for water to reach them.
The forest seemed to be growing lighter as ever more trees were cut down and taken away. More sun hit the ground, and it seemed to drink the water that she needed. She seemed to be thirsty most of the time.
And just recently she’d felt sick inside, like something awful was growing. It had happened that night of the full moon when a light had come down from the sky and she’d felt the sharp sting of something penetrating to deep inside her.
Eventually, the forest grew empty around her. Ever larger machines came and chewed up the younger trees, cracking and breaking them into splinters and chunks of bark and mere wood.
The animals left. She never saw another bear, nor deer, not even a squirrel. Soon she stood alone in a vast open landscape. Fires burned around her and smoke choked the air. Even her ancient brother was gone, and all she had to look towards was a dusty, twisting road that seemed to bring people in growing numbers.
They were digging holes now, tearing up the soil and the rocks. She could feel uncertainty in the earth around her.
The wind was stronger now, and some nights it took all the ancient redwood’s might to fight the power of the air around her which seemed intent on knocking her down. The rain was plentiful, mainly because she was the only tree around to drink it. But it always seemed to dry back to the air before her roots could enjoy its moisture.
Even the worms in the earth were fleeing.
One day a truck came and fastened a large, flat piece of the remains of her brethren to her. It had markings on it. She hoped the wind would come and blow it off, but it never did.
Just after that a large group of people gathered around her. One large, fat man did most of the talking, the others listened. Sometimes they used machines that shot light at him. She didn’t understand what they said. But sometimes they smashed their hands together, which seemed promising.
Suddenly, the sickness in her began to burn. Her entire being trembled and she swayed uncontrollably. The burning was unbearable, it grew within her and seemed to be moving outward.
Suddenly there was an explosion, and she shattered near her base. Wood splintered in all directions, killing some of the people. Dead now, she toppled and the weight of ten thousand years fell down on the crowd.
A pool of green gel oozed out of the centre of the dead tree’s trunk. From the gel rose a rose-coloured form. It had arms and legs like a human, but its head was shaped like a triangle. It spoke from between two sharp yellow horns.
“We are the Lorax,” it said.
The creature looked at the fat man who had been speaking to the crowd. As he tried to flee, the creature grabbed him.
“Leave me alone!” the fat man screamed.
The creature grabbed a huge splinter of wood from the dead tree. It rammed it through the fat man’s body like a toothpick through an olive. The man screamed as blood flooded from his mouth. The creature grabbed the man’s head and crushed it easily.
“It’s time for you all to die,” the Lorax said, and then walked towards another survivor who lay pinned under the dead tree.
Lights shone in the sky.