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The Fractal Tree -- FWG Flash Fiction for 10/25/2020

This week's 300-word flash fiction prompt is:

The Fractal Tree

Mystics called it the Tree of Worlds. Scientists called it the Fractal Tree. Jayneer called it his greatest challenge. It sat, shrouded in mist on the Holy Island. Priests said that no one who set foot on the island could resist the urge to climb the Tree’s ever-branching limbs, and no one had ever returned from doing so.

Pundits studied the tree in the minutest detail, their telescopes revealing that the limbs growing from the trunk, and the branches growing from those limbs, and the twigs from those branches continued, seemingly ad infinitum, until their tendrils looked like a dusting of snow.

Jayneer cared nothing for either the priests or the pundits. He was determined to discover the truth for himself. So, when he dove into the sacred lake and splashed his way to the island, the pilgrims on the shore stopped their obeisance and stared. When he pulled himself from the water and approached the Tree, they stood aghast, and when he leaped onto the lowest branch, their murmuring turned to shouts of anger.

Their shouts fell on deaf ears, though, as Jayneer quickly became enthralled by the Tree’s wonder. Climbing both higher and further outwards, he expected the branches supporting him to grow smaller and weaker, as the scientists had predicted. Instead, though, as he progressed further from the trunk, the firm, strong wood grew beneath him, always just wide enough for his passage. The branches behind him, however, loomed ever larger, their bark becoming a treacherous terrain of cliffs and chasms until he had no choice but to continue forever onward.

To the appalled witnesses, the Holy Tree stood as it always had, and it was Jayneer who changed, shrinking with each step until even the pundits’ telescopes could no longer find him.

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