Posted: January 1, 2014 in dark, fiction, Heart Warming, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FFF Prompt tree-climbing-poppy

Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for all her work and organization. You can visit her site and read through the other Flash Fiction Friday postings at:


For those who are new, Rochelle shares a photo prompt to which several #FridayFictioneers compose a 100-word flash of fiction. Come, we’re having a swingingly good time.

Here’s my contribution:

In Good Company

The grand oak still commands the most prominent position in Bristleburg, not five paces from the courthouse stairs. Murderers, vagabonds, witches and even Union conspirators experienced the unforgiving strength within the limbs, and also beheld the knowledge, some for nearly twenty minutes, that in this town wrongdoers would not have the mercy of a proper Hangman’s Noose. The townsfolk were to blame, ever demanding of more playful public amusement.

These days are more civilized with Main Street parades celebrating seasons and history. During these  events children are hoisted among the great limbs, in good company of the death row ghosts.


  1. I guess it’s better the kids sit in the tree with ghost than becoming ghost themselves.

  2. This is a little like when old Battlefields turn into parks.. the blood is washed away and absorbed into the ground… I will never be able to look upon an old oak the same way again….

    • JKBradley says:

      Thanks, Bjorn. The tree from this story really exists, but the history is made up based on another tree in a different town and a different time. When we have parades I like to lean against it and look up into the branches for the ghosts in my imagination.

  3. Terrible to imagine someone choking to death for twenty minutes, but those things have happened. Seems bizarre to say “Happy New Year” after that, but I will anyway.


    • JKBradley says:

      I wouldn’t have thought so myself but it showed up on a google search I did while doing a little ‘research’ for this story. Terrible, indeed.

      Happy New Year!!

  4. Dear JK,

    The thought of watching someone take twenty minutes to die is unthinkable. But then we now have reality TV. I’m surprised no one’s produced a show with execution films. Given human nature I think it’s not too far down the pike. Good story that addresses human nature.



  5. zookyworld says:

    Twenty minutes — ouch! Certainly a good thing the tree’s used for climbing now instead of hanging. Let’s just hope those ghosts don’t push anybody off the branches.

  6. Adam Ickes says:

    A wonderfully dark take, JK, and so well told.

  7. unspywriter says:

    I can always count on you to creep me out–and that’s a good thing, except when I’m reading it late at night. O_o

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/did-i-tell-you-the-one-about-my-talking-dog/

  8. Well done, JK. Dark and stunning– 20 minutes should jolt any reader out of their comfort zone! How you find these stories, even from the most whimsical photos amazes me! Really good story.

  9. rgayer55 says:

    Ah, the hanging tree. My Dad told me his father went to the last hanging in Fayetteville. I assume it was around 1920. They saw it drew quite a crowd, can’t imagine I’d want to watch one though.

  10. The mystery of the old tree revealed. Great tale. Well told. I totally believed it all!

  11. annisik51 says:

    I think your tale is as dark as mine! Read some of the comments. Rochelle mentions reality TV. Well, there have been cases of people committing suicide ‘live’ over the Internet. Anyway, gruesome but interesting tale. Ann

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