Nicole Cushing’s “The Orchard of Hanging Trees”

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Nicole Cushing’s story, The Orchard of Hanging Trees, recently landed in my inbox courtesy of Dark Fuse Magazine, a weekly magazine from dark fiction publisher Dark Fuse. I have been familiar with Dark Fuse for some time, but only recently discovered they published a weekly magazine. Now I am scolding myself for not exploring their website sooner, as the magazine sends out  content from its talented authors that range from short stories to essays about the inspirations for their work that are must-read’s for any horror literature fan.

The story opens with a scene in Hell in an orchard of trees that give birth to embryos of souls that are to spend their time being tortured by hanging for all eternity. The story is told by an unnamed narrator who is employed by Hell and yet does not see itself as a monster, despite being referred to as “Demon”. The narrator does not wish to be in its position, but is forced to take care of these trees as punishment because it failed to prevent suffering in its human life.

The narrator must tend to the trees to prolong the suffering of the trees’ “fruit” and a failure to do so results in expulsion from Hell. This may seem like a gift, but the alternative is being cast into a black void of nothingness, where everything ceases to exist. The demon is given a chance to free the souls it tortures throughout the story, but struggles with the decision.

The Orchard of Hanging Trees is an exquisitely written short story chock full of dark imagery and a twist ending that packs a punch. I did some digging on the origins of this story, and it appears it was an unpublished story written in 2012 that was posted on Thomas Ligotti online and featured on horror fiction podcast, Pseudopod.

I have never read any of Cushing’s other works, but after reading The Orchard of Hanging Trees, it is clear Cushing is a masterful storyteller and is an author horror fans need to be reading.  Her two Dark Fuse novellas, I Am The New God and Children of No One, have rocketed straight to my “must-read” list.


Laughing At The Abyss – Nicole Cushing’s official site

Dark Fuse Magazine

Dark Fuse’s Official Site



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