• It used to be the only one.
    Shutters creaked, and leaves blew off the nearby trees. The branches were knobby, warped.... twisted like something had crept up inside them and started to erode, to decay, to manipulate the vulnerable flesh of the dissolving bark and diseased wood. There was only one in each yard in this little town, if a town it could be called, having so few inhabitants. One large, knobbly hand of dying material pushing out of the ground, as if the trees could no longer stand the soil and were seeking to reach up and grasp the sky.
    The old house at the top was the first.
    The hill was tall, and sloped, and only the singular, rickety structure stood atop it, the other buildings sloping down the sides like a diseased flock of geese. This one housed no life. The plants, to their mercy, had ceased to exist long ago, and had never come back, glad to be gone and free from the suffocating aura. The remains of an old vine still dangled from the front, broken wall, a dangling shutter held permanently open by the mottled wood, like one eye fixed in ceaseless, soul-grating stare.
    The house once stood alone. And people had come, developers, land-owners, to buy the hill to stood on and free the earth from its suffocating strangulation. And odd things happened. They each built a building there, next to it, sloping down the hill, for no reason at all and no purpose whatsoever. They built it, they moved in, and over time they seemed to vanish entirely as one knobby tree, one wicked hand grew from the yard and seemingly blocked the sun from it, forever.
    They were the remnants. And the trees blew, and shuddered, and stood there gaping, the dead arms of Shred Hill.
    As the wind wove through, atop the hill, the Beginner watched.