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About Deviant Core Member James FlaxmanMale/Australia Groups :iconmachete-girl-ezine: Machete-Girl-Ezine
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Deviant for 7 Years
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Callum and the Tree People by jflaxman
Callum and the Tree People

            Callum is an unmarried man who hates every aspect of his miserable existence. If he could gain the attention of Fate, he would beg for a different set of genes, for even his body infuriates him. If you were imprisoned in it you might understand why he feels this way; he is heavyset, bald, thick-necked and short-legged, with protuberant lips and small hooded eyes. He is fifty-three, and has never had sex, for women do all they can to avoid him. Even in his long-gone youth, when he tried to pick up prostitutes, his cravings were not satisfied; none of the ladies of the night were game to submit to his grasping advances. As a result, he has come to hate women, though he is strongly attracted to teenage girls, so long as they are fair and slim. Young girls, however, are terrified of him; when he catches the bus that takes them to school, none of them sit next to him, even if they have to stand. Now and then, though, one of them might brush against him, if only by accident. When this happens Callum breaks into a sweat and his respiration visibly quickens. After forty years of involuntary celibacy his sexual frustration is all too apparent.

            Callum has no friends at all, and even his family has long since disowned him. He cannot keep a dog or cat, for animals can sense his rage, and run away at the earliest chance. Those few he can own – such as hamsters or goldfish – die when he forgets to feed them or crushes them beneath his boots. Callum is a very angry man who serves no useful purpose at all besides giving small children an ogre to flee.

            Callum has scores of enemies. He hates the supermarket girls, for they never look him in the eye. He hates the cashier at the local gas station, who sniggers when he buys his magazines and always tells him to “have fun.” He hates the young couple in the flat above his, for at night he can hear them making love, which denies him his one retreat from life, that of deep and dreamless sleep. He hates waking up, alone in bed, to find that he is breathing still. He even hates whatever God condemned him to such misery. But most of all, he hates the Tree People.

            As you have probably guessed by now, Callum suffers from hypertension. His doctor has told him to exercise more and cut down on red meat and dairy foods. Callum cannot ride a bike owing to his hemorrhoids, and nor can he jog as his joints are too sore. He cannot even opt to swim; young girls often go to the public baths and they have an unwelcome effect on him. So Callum goes for walks instead, brisk walks, as his doctor ordered, huffing and puffing in his rumpled blue mackintosh, which he always wears when he goes outside. He takes a heavy wooden stick, ostensibly to lean upon, but actually to swing at dogs and children should they get too close. He usually goes on his walks at dusk, when the sun sinks and the air grows cold, but he still works up a considerable sweat.

            Callum no longer walks the streets, for the older children persecute him, calling him the most dreadful names. Gangs of young suburban toughs come out to roam as darkness falls, and Callum is afraid of them: the hard-drinking boys with their bottles and boots, the hollow-eyed girls with their needles and knives. Their filthy language always appalls him, even if he is an old pervert, but he knows the worst is yet to come. One day he is going to be bashed, or stabbed, or doused in fuel and set alight. This is why he always heads for the relative peace of the national park. You might hope he could find solace there, among the lush ferns and whispering gums – but the Tree People have other ideas.

            As Callum stumps along the track, puffing and leaning on his stick, the Tree People sit in the branches above and gibber and shriek as he passes by. Callum hates them vehemently, hates them with a hatred that will never be excised, with a hatred so strong it can nearly be seen, for it cloaks him like a pulsing aura, and lingers, brooding, in the bush long after he has gone.

            The Tree People are extremely small, no larger than five-year-old children, but they are fast, and as cunning as cats. They have large round eyes and long-fingered hands, which make them look like shaven tarsiers. Callum views them as a race of degenerates, creatures little better than monkeys, devoid of any real language or culture. He is human, if by birth alone, so marginalised has he become; but he clings to this fact because it makes him feel superior to them. The Tree People, however, giggle at him, and leap and swing from bough to bough, uttering their eerie cries as the daylight fades and the shadows advance. Darkness is creeping forward like a curse, reclaiming the earth from the source of all life. Callum can barely see his tormentors, but the Tree People, with their tarsier eyes, can clearly trace his every move.

            Callum despises the Tree People because he cannot communicate with them. If he is convinced of his superiority, they seem just as sure of theirs. He stumps on, coughing and wheezing now, swiping at them with his stick, though they always stay just out of reach. For a moment he is tempted to hurl it at them, but he knows he will miss, for the Tree People are too small and swift. Before he could retrieve his weapon, they would snatch it up and bear it away.

            Callum, however, can enter their territory, while they could never intrude upon his. So far as he knows, no-one else has seen, or heard of, the Tree People. They feature in no native myth, but nor do they seem to have come from abroad with his genocidal ancestors. He knows other people use this track and wishes the Tree People would taunt them as well. If they were proven to exist, and similar species were discovered in Europe, it could help to explain the old folk tales of dryads, changelings, elves and sprites. Callum has tried to catch them on film, but they never show up in his photographs, which makes him hate them even more. It seems the creatures only exist to make his life more miserable.

            Callum doubles back for home, muttering oaths beneath his breath. He loathes the Tree People so much he wishes he could kill them all. But they in no way fear his wrath; they mock him as he blunders on, with their shrill calls and enormous eyes, which glow faintly now the sun has set. Callum shakes his fist at them in a final gesture of defiance. He stumbles out of the national park and tramps off into the gathering night.


I’ll start by thanking everyone who’s kept watching me this year. I haven’t been as productive for reasons I’ll get to later but the motivation’s coming back. I owe special thanks to everyone who’s asked questions and offered advice. I’ve been online more often and my work should benefit from some of the conversations I’ve had. For anyone who’s come in late or finds it all a bit confusing, different galleries usually depict different universes. There’s a bit of crossover – the Warbirds series alludes to past events in the Scorched Earth world, but I should make a clear distinction between my more serious (Occult Creatures, Necromechanics, and Scorched Earth) and lighthearted work (The Madness, In Extremis, Lost and Forsaken, and Surreal could conceivably be merged). The new Top Shelf gallery combines some of my most popular work with some of my personal favourites.

I’ll admit I’ve had some trouble adjusting to suburban Sydney. Melbourne’s labyrinthine alleyways and industrialised waterfronts, Hobart’s surrounding forests and mountains, and the long roads between major cities appeal more to my sense of adventure. I like to get out and explore every day and Sydney’s climate makes this harder – I actually prefer the colder, wetter southern winters. The suburbs provide a tolerable mix of private and government housing, bushland and light industrial zones, and if I wander far enough, the drive thrus and shopping malls we’ve copied from the USA. I’ve given up my night walks as they’d mean less time with my one true love – I wouldn’t stay here for anyone less.

I feel my recent work’s lacked focus. Darker takes on teletubbies, etc. are lots of fun but I think I should concentrate on more original creations. I know some people appreciate the (often bitter) social commentary attached to pictures like “Shell of a Hedgehog” but for every one who does there’s someone else who doesn’t get it and takes it all too literally. Verbal sparring’s also fun, but telling fanboys to calm down when I could be drawing soon gets old. I could draw Preston’s bear all day as it’s a borderline Lovecraftian nightmare, but it isn’t my creation either and even my cold little heart isn’t immune to the odd twinge of conscience.

I think there’s a lot of potential in my Scorched Earth character concepts. They draw on many different interests (history, culture, politics, dystopian fiction and speculative engineering) and could let me explore more serious themes of conflict and ecology. The general aesthetic owes less to bright-and-shiny science fiction than harrowing war films like Downfall and Come and See, though there might be a bit of extra grime from my own time on the road! Nothing I’ve done has been perfect and constructive criticism’s welcome. My drawing’s likely to improve and I’m just as likely to revise or edit old work over time. 

The stuffed toast’s very different and it’s been joined by a stuffed coffee mug. There’s a totally sane explanation: this stuff lets my partner and I trade skills and work on projects together. There might even be some money in it – faves on DA don’t pay bills, however much we wish they did! I’m currently neglecting a pikelet and now that I’m back in Sydney a stuffed toy cat with button eyes might make a long overdue, entirely inadequate, but sincere peace offering.

Thanks again for your time,



jflaxman's Profile Picture
James Flaxman
Current Residence: Sydney, Australia
deviantWEAR sizing preference: L
Print preference: Varies
Favourite genre of music: Metal, classical, dark ambient
Favourite photographer: Archival
Favourite style of art: Surreal, imaginative, visionary
Operating System: Crappy old PC
MP3 player of choice: Loud
Shell of choice: Armed and mechanised
Wallpaper of choice: Skin
Skin of choice: Metal
Favourite cartoon character: Too many to name
Personal Quote: "So much work, so little time."


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Cosmic--Chaos Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Halloween is almost here- did you ever see the movie Event Horizon? Although it's kind of "Hellraiser" in space, it's still twisted, eerie old-school horror- :thumbsup:

Or did you ever read the work of Junji Ito? Some of the scariest fiction I've ever read, not to mention his artwork.
MetallumJazz Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2015  Student
I like your work man!

Some of it reminds me of Keith Thompson's art also
Azadeth Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Simply spectacular work!
LZJoZ Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015
Sorry for jamming up your notifications,but I can't stop favoriting your stuff.
Zedekial Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015
Clyde Cash helped save a contingent of U.S. marines by killing Bubbles Rosechu! CWCollateral is nearing the endgame!
Zedekial Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015
Could you draw a set of pictures of public areas in Pnakotus, city of the Yithians?
Emirobat Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Banksy's Dismaland makes me think of your drawings. 
Cindy-Neko-Chan Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2015   General Artist
Finally I found you!! I love all your art!! :love:
jflaxman Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015
Thanks! I'll try to keep it coming!
Queen-Soulia Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
You look like a fun crazy girl, or normal crazy.
I am crazy so...
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