I have often said it. Plot ideas can come from absolutely anywhere. Here's another one, which has led to my latest story.
A most extraordinary looking willow tree grows alongside the river where I take my daily walk. Far from behaving like a traditional weeping willow, this example exudes character. Quite a sinister character if you happen to be blessed with a horror writer's mind.
It's as if, fed up with leaning over and draping fronds of trailing leaves all day, it suddenly woke up one morning, shook itself and said, "Sod this for a lark, I'm going to be different." And so this maverick was born. It is clearly ancient and has grown in a bizarre way, so that its thick branches curl and twist around each other - just like tentacles - reaching out to trap the unwary passerby.
Tree fellers have been working nearby and I became alarmed that "my" tree ( yes, it's official. I'm claiming ownership) might be for the chop - or, at the least a serious and catastrophic pruning. I heard their chainsaws zizzing away a little further along the bank and wondered if, should the time come, I would be able to climb these intertwined branches and wield a banner proclaiming myself to be the Denbighshire One. "Save the Tentacle Tree!" would be my rallying cry, albeit only witnessed by a couple walking their dog.
But, squinting upwards, I decided against the climb. I'm really not built for that sort of activity and have no head for heights. Besides, I've never actually climbed a tree in my life.
Fortunately, the Men With Chainsaws do seem to have moved on now, so I can concentrate on the amazing undulations, configurations and general disregard for normal tree-like behaviour exhibited by this remarkable specimen.
Look at the picture at the top of this post. Can't you just imagine those branches writhing, twisting, bending and creaking as they stretch towards their terrified victim? They wind themselves around his body as his cries for help go unheeded. They squeeze. Tighter and tighter. Crushing the breath out of his body. Until the tree absorbs him into himself and he is never seen alive again.
Works for me! Excuse me while I just go and write that scene...