In the pestilential swamplands and malodorous marshes of what used to be known as the greater Chicago metropolis, the subdivisions sink rotting into the mire, their houses charred and dilapidated shadows choked by strangling vines and garrisoned by vengeful expanses of undergrowth. The broken streets, choked with grasses and burned out cars can still be navigated with difficulty. In what used to be known as Wayne township of DuPage county a bold traveler need not fear harassment from neither clutches of starving wretches or the armed rabble of hardened warlords that can be encountered in the surrounding areas.

Those with insight and with dark purpose, such as yourself, can find their way to a where a particular road is swallowed by a black expanse of foreign and menacing foliage. Here the very daylight seems to be swallowed by an evil force and know that you have arrived where The Ookie-Kabookie Tree resides.

Listen closely. The legends say that long ago, before the madness awoke in the world, on a dark sultry evening blackened with thunderclouds, The Devil himself hurried uncomfortably down a road. The Devil, in the guise of a cosmopolitan socialite, had spent the evening sowing his seed amongst the young women in the community with loose morals. He has stopped at a taqueria for a bite to eat before returning to Hell but the Carne Asada had he had dined upon was tainted, and as he hurried along his way was then failing to contain the explosive diarrhea within. As his demonic bowels twisted and writhed within him, The Devil could continue on no farther.

As the thunder crashed and the wind howled around him, The Devil dropped his designer jeans and crapped by the side of the road, cursing and howling unholy oaths in his agony! Curses and oaths which were dreamt and written down by madmen in forgotten tongues with the bones of defiled saints in virgin's blood on human skin for parchment.

Later that evening, through a humid drizzling rain, a whore staggered down the same road, soaked to bone and drunk on cheap tequila. Nothing was known about this woman-of-the-night save that she had The Clap! Unable to hold in her diseased piss one step more, she dropped her panties and cursing and howling in unbearable agony, pissed by the side of the road. Exactly in the same spot by the side of the same road where The Devil had let loose the contents of his unholy bowels.

And again, in forgotten tongues, her curses and oaths were scrawled in the flesh of lunatics in the darkest insane asylums by inmates using their own fingers as crayons on the walls of their cells. As the world slipped against its will back into the grip of nightmare and chaos, as you sorcerers endeavored to renew covenants with dark and forgotten gods, those with the wisdom and ability sought to decipher these prophetic ramblings. Few succeeded in these endeavors, to the great sacrifice to their sanities. But for their trials, they gained knowledge of the great power that would befall one who could gain a boon from The Ookie-Kaboobie Tree.

On that spot where The Devil has shat and the whore had pissed, lay a wild honey locust seed. The following morning, the sun failed to rise in the sky, hidden from sight by a gloom as black as Set, and a seedling sprouted amongst its unholy manure. A black rootling pierced the earth and all the native vegetation in the soil within a hundred foot radius withered and perished. By noon, the sprout head emerged in the darkness and the air grew fetid with the stench of death. When the moon rose red and evil in the eastern sky come evening, the first true leaves appeared from the sprout and drank in the moonlight. That night, the dreams of every sleeping soul for miles around were invaded by nightmares! Babes went mad and choked to death on their frothing spittle. Lovers strangled each other in their sleep. The bile of the elderly burned their throats as they vomited into their lungs.

By morning, the unholy seedling had grown into a sapling as tall as a grown man. As the unrested suburbanites unsteadily began their days their well pumps had brought forth blood into the pipes within their walls. Upon drawing their morning baths, the horror of human blood gushing from their faucets drove them screaming from their homes. The blood rose with such pressure that their fittings burst and shortly the blood flowed out through the floorboards, wept from the window eaves and followed the terrified residents out their doors.

The story soon reached the authorities who quarantined the subdivision. The local media and curiosity seekers from miles around also converged upon the neighborhood. The blood continued to flow from the burst pipes in the houses, saturating their lawns red and flowing into the storm sewers. Many collapsed to their knees in prayer mistaking the blood as a miracle. Others collapsed to their knees and wailed that the end of days were upon them and confessing to the public their mortal sins in preparation for Judgment. If anyone noticed the sapling which surely was growing taller by the hour, there were none present to testify to their observations. None save for a four year old girl named Alicia Freeley who stared at The Tree for some time, sucking at a finger, before loudly exclaiming, “Ookie-Kabookie!” Silently, unknown to all, the sinister sapling was darkly amused.

That evening, as the crowds grew larger, the news feeds began to re-broadcast the story on syndicated news. The story went viral on the internet. As the sunset approached, the flow of blood began to ease and then stopped. Dusk fell, and the moon rose once more in the east. As a cold wind whipped up from all directions the The Tree burst into flower. The Tree’s pollen took to the air and like radioactive fallout settled widely throughout the township! Everyone in the township, residents and visitors alike fell sick with a burning fever and unquenchable thirst. They shook with tumors. Their sweat smelled like decay and their lymph nodes turned black. Pregnant mothers miscarried their fetuses which screamed and wailed with mouths full of bloody placenta. The young the old and the infirm became wracked in violent fits of seizure and then became overtaken by the unstoppable urge to kill and to eat human flesh! Mass-murder! Chaos! A hoard of fever crazed cannibals with super-human strength who would not die even with their organs shot to tatters or their limbs struck from their torsos!

By daybreak, those sickened by the fever madness had either been killed, died from their fevers. The National Guard had been activated and rounded up the survivors under a quarantine in the local high school. Federal scientists and officials arrived and set to hushing up the events of the past 48 hours. The fools concluded that the blood from the local aquifer has become contaminated by a Red Tide and that the local population was sickened by ingesting toxic byproducts from the algae. The Ookie-Kabookie Tree was now tall as the house on the lot in which it grew which was now blasted grey and lifeless as were all the lawns and fields for miles around. All of the other trees however in this area were swelling with strange seed pods that were alien to their species.

The next phase of the horror began quietly during the day. Birds, of all different kinds of feather began to congregate on these trees. At first, the only odd behavior that these birds displayed was that they were absolutely quiet. Not a chirp. Soon their numbers were so great that their weight were causing even stout branches to bow in the manner of trees burdened by an early snowstorm. Each bird was as silent as before the beginning of time, and each pair of avian eyes were focused on the strange pods swelling and then crackling in the light of the sun. To the masses which turned out to witness this latest curiosity, it seemed that every bird in the entire world must have flocked to these trees within a five mile radius around the abhorrent honey locust. That awful Tree, which in the silence seemed to radiate with pure maniacal evil.

Suddenly, as if this silent radiation reached the climax of some sort of unheard crescendo, each bird tore into a frenzy at once, ripping and tearing into the seed pods and gulping down the fruit within. Instantly, the birds at once shattered the silence with the screams of twenty-thousand avian throats incised by the very fury of Hell! With beak and claw, they swooped down and tore at the faces of every witness. The sparrow fought with the strength of the crow and the crow with the strength of the eagle, every one screaming with an unholy bloodlust. As the masses scrambled and tried to flee from this aerial onslaught, the roads and lawns became be-dewed with eyeballs torn from their sockets until it seemed that the landscape had witnessed some sort of macabre hailstorm. The blinded wailed and crawled about seeking refuge as the birds widened the radius of their assault, seeking victims as they spread their carnage from the banks of the Rock river to the west, to the state house in Madison. From the shipping canals of Joliet to the bustling sidewalks of downtown Chicago where in the flood of the afternoon commute, pedestrians flung themselves from the drawbridges in the financial districts and the Chicago river ran red with blood.

In their terror, no one paused to observe that as the birds attacked, they began to expel the seeds within the berzerkers' fruit. Most of this fruit was shat out within the first minutes of the frenzy and by the light of the moon, each seed sprouted and pushed roots into the soil. By daybreak, the landscape of Wayne township was that of something out of a children's book, where the evil antagonist dwelt. From some seeds, there grew yards upon yards of poisonous brambles. From others, vines snaked low along the ground with grasping tendrils . Others bore slick leathery leaves glistening with inflammatory oils. Others still sported huge Venus flytrap-like mouths as large as that of a watermelon with needled foot-long teeth. And every foot of vegetation was alive with malice and evil intent!

Unwary children, looking for berries have been known to have been snatched by the ankles by grabbing vines and sucked beneath the ground. Other vines snatch the unsuspecting traveler by the neck and hang them from high like a natural gallows where their bones bleach in the sun. The impassible brambles seem to shift about to confuse its victims as if they were in a hedge maze to entrap them within a thorny prison. The very foliage contains poisonous oils which cause horrible blistering and oozing sores which never heal.

Their concentration was greatest around the subdivision where The Ookie-Kabookie Tree had now grown to a height rivaling a nearby water tower. Its girth had forced the road bed up and cast it in slabs aside. Every tree which had bore the fruit of the previous day now stood leafless and dead. The Ookie-Kabookie Tree now stood alone, attended by its lethal halflings, and now positively radiated with evil. The very air around the massive Tree wavered and pulsated with this evil in the way the air above desert sands shimmers in the mid-day heat. Only those who would soon become learned in the dark arts, only those souls most depraved would be able to know that The Tree was laughing!

Yes! The Tree laughed! Its laughter carried across time and space in a way that even Odin, Glad-Of-War had never delighted in the carnage that he had wrought. In the dark days that followed, however, mankind's attention became focused on even greater calamities. The melting of the Greenland ice shelf, the interruption of the North Atlantic Current and the subsequent plunge of continental Europe into the grip of a prolonged winter. The droughts of the North America, southern China and the Indian subcontinent, and the uninterrupted years of crop failure that followed. The dirty bombs that detonated in New York, Toyko, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Buenos Aries which dealt the death blow to the old, dying order. These are the events that the pitiful remnants of humanity now remember, not the madness of that The Ookie-Kabookie Tree wrought.

But these words are not written for those poor lost fools, no. These words are written for you who already know these dark truths and who now seek the boons that can be gained from this dark wood of madness. Oh, yes! Yes, I know you! You have studied the dark ways and learned forbidden tongues just like all the rest. Your way is corruption and perversion! Your way is power! Dark power from beyond this mortal plane. Your kind has sought such power from The Tree many times before, and as WANT something! Oh, The Tree can taste your desire, and your wickedness too, little wizard! It can taste the complexities of your sins in subtleties greater than a sommelier in his cellars.

Heed this warning, dabbler in sin, and be warned, for The Tree will test your very sanity, your very humanity. As with every gift, there is always a price to be paid. True, the minds of mankind are but a plaything to The Tree, as a cat may toy with a mouse whose spine it has severed. But, sacrifice! Above all The Tree truly delights in the perversion and destruction of all that is innocent and pure in the world. To these lost souls it grants its greatest gifts.

Fatherless Mike Crouch, more commonly known as The Ghost Wizard of Ypsilanti, who enslaved the immortal souls of his namesake town's folk and kept them from The Lord to do his bidding, he gained his power from a lasso woven from the roots of The Ookie-Kabookie Tree. For this he pledged the souls of his very unborn children. And to ensure his payments were plentiful, The Tree cursed Fatherless Mike with an unslackable urge to despoil the virtues of young women for the remainder of his days.

Ro'Fannaugh The Necromancer's drum, the one which he beats upon to raise and command his armies of the recently deceased, was made from the hide and the bones of his one true love. He sacrificed her to that arboreal abomination which told him through dreams to tan his lover's hide buried in soil soaked daily in fresh blood for thirty days. Ro'Fannaugh is also a madman, as you may know, for The Tree also cursed his dreams with the wraith of his lover's spirit to torment his every step within The Sandman's realm.

Even, Sulliidèielbma, The Great Sorcerer Of The Treeless North, who commanded the wild spirit of the Wendigo, paid a visit to The Ookie-Kabbookie Tree with a flute carved from the thigh bone of his very own virgin daughter. As he played a song, an evil song from the by-gone days upon this flute, the great hedge of deadly thorn parted and allowed him a rare direct audience at the base The Tree’s monstrous trunk.

His gift was none other than the Rattle of Shub-Niggurath, now lost to our kind, which could summon The Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young from beyond the shades. Ah, yes! The Ookie-Kabookie Tree holds power over their kind too! It has been speculated that The Tree and The Black Goat may be siblings, but nothing could be further from the truth. Where most of the things from this world quake in fear from those From Beyond, those which are written of in The Mad Arab's Book loathe and abhor The Ookie-Kabookie Tree, for it alone on this earth is not beholden to their laws.

Therefore the worldly fetishes that The Ookie-Kabookie Tree offers those that please it are mere playthings compared to the arboreal abomination's awesome potential! Who can even guess at the power that one could wield against the very fabrics of the universe? Nyarlathotep detests it! Yog-Sothoth is wary of it! Even the chaos of Great Azathoth is challenged by the madness The Tree spews forth into the aether! But what sacrifice could The Tree take such delight in so as to grant a shade of the potential of its true power?

I thought I knew. I thought that I had the answer. Yet, the results of my sacrifice have been....inconclusive. What was my sacrifice do you ask? Why, nothing short of everything that I could give: my body and my soul. When I offered myself to The Ookie-Kabookie Tree, I could sense the thing grinning at me like a child would lord over an anthill. I felt it weighing my virtue, calculating it against my corruption as if I were a sack of grain on the scale in the marketplace. I could feel it tasting my soul, savoring it. Then I could feel its pleasure and even a satisfaction as it made its decision of what to do with me.

Yard-long spires numbering in the hundreds that girdled the great trunk thrust out and pierced my flesh. The agony was indescribable as the venom entered my bloodstream and consumed all of the humanity that was within. My blood turned to black inky sap, my muscles and tendons turned to ropy tendrils, my skin turned into papery bark. For my sacrifice, I became one with The Tree. What it knows, I know. What it sees, I see. My transformation was beyond human description, and the knowledge I gained has been beyond all of my wildest fantasies. My tragedy is that I am still of this earth and of this time, where The Tree is far beyond such concepts.

I have become The Ookie-Kabookie Tree's worldly ambassador, human eyes for it to gaze through and a human tongue to speak with.

So? What boon would you seek of me, little wizard?

Children of the Night: The 2012 Halloween Horrorquest