I asked Liam to write whatever he wanted to about TreeHorn Design
the result was amazing and presented here unedited.
THE WOODSMAN, in DON’T AXE ME AGAIN
By Luther Hatch
Luther Hatch, almost certainly a pseudonym, released a long series of paperbacks about his character, THE WOODSMAN, in the late ‘50s. Although modestly popular at the time, the titles have fallen into obscurity and only a handful of the titles show up in pulp swap meets and on the benches of barber shops run by alcoholics. Hatch himself is an unknown, although unfounded rumours suggest he was an escaped war criminal. Whatever the case, THE WOODSMAN remains an intriguing example of deconstructionist pulp, with the titular hero as a soldier who, in a freak accident, found himself with an axe instead of a hand. The Woodsman wanted nothing more than a peaceful existence, carving wooden bibelots, but forced to work for his government as an axe-based assassin. Presented below in an excerpt from a typical Woodsman adventure, DON’T AXE ME AGAIN, discovered by Joe Chester among the effects of an elderly persons’ unsecured room.
Hunk Wilcox gazed at his hand. Although it was no longer just a hand, but an axe. He did his best not to dwell on the accident that left him with this gift - This curse? - and instead focused on the task in front of him. In a frenzy of hand movements, he moulded the wood in front of him into a bucolic
wooden bowl. God he was good. The smell of the Tasmanian oak filled his nostrils, and for the first
time since returning from the war, he felt complete. But, like all good things, the moment was fleeting. A shadow fell over the work bench, and Hunk
knew instantly that it was General Harder. “I thought I told you and your government to shove it,” Hunk tossed over his shoulder.
“Dammit, Corporal Wilcox, your country needs you. Doesn’t that mean a thing to you?” General Harder said as he removed his beret. “You think your damn country is better than this bowl, General?” General Harder was ready to explode, but was caught up admiring the bowl in front of him. It was more that an object – it was art. “I can’t argue with that, son. These wooden dingdongs are more important than the country I love more than any of my wives.” The two men stood, overwhelmed with feelings from the wooden goods, but unable to express their emotions. Instead, they squinted, and enjoyed the feeling of sawdust in their eyes. Hunk paused. “What do you need from me, General?” The General’s mouth spread into a wide, sexual smile.
Hunk cursed as he swung his axe hand in front of him, whittling the jungle debris to clear a path. “This life never ends, there’s always a splinter of it left in your thumb, waiting.” General Harder had managed to wear Hunk down – again – for this mission. There was just no saying “no” to that man. Curse his golden locks. Word had gotten to Harder that there was another paramilitary base operating out of Prosser’s Reserve, just outside of Launceston. It looked like it was the contras again. Formerly backed by the military to lead a coup against the industrial sawmill complex, they had become officially disavowed by the Republic of Tasmania after the infamous incident known as the chipboard massacre. Hunk shuddered to even remember. While Hunk had been instrumental in dismantling the contra, there was one of its leaders who had
always managed to avoid him. Commandant Ay Kia. The sadistic monster had destroyed much of what Hunk Wilcox had stood for with his cheap philosophies and ability to assemble quickly. “I’m going to destroy you, Ay Kia,” Hunk muttered through gritted teeth. Last time they had met, Hunk had been lucky to escape with his life, and suffered the elaborately complicated and very thrilling accident that left him with an axe instead of a hand [editor’s note: See Woodsman adventure #1, AXE-IS OF EVIL]. While bitter for a time, Hunk had since grown to appreciate the axe. It made him more… efficient. But now was no time to reminisce. It was time… for the Woodsman to strike!
From inside the contra base, all seemed normal. Calm. Safe. Efficient. Deadly. Erotic. The men went about their tasks, preparing large weapons for deeds. Deeds that were once sanctioned by the government, but were not arbitrarily considered evil. The twelve men were scruffy, their bare hairy torsos concealing abs formed through malnourishment. Their base – if it could be really called that – was more a series of canvas and tarps, holding their sleeping quarters, mess area, and also a large communal bath. After drinking heavily one night – as they often did – they tested if they could all fit inside the bath at once. It was difficult at first, but after jettisoning the unnecessarily bulk of their clothes, they all slipped in perfectly, like a human game of Tetris. They considered each other
brothers. More than brothers. They were contra. “I’m just going outside to grab a banana,” Mitchell said, hopping out of the warm bath he was sharing with Joe.
“That’s what she said!” Joe yelled out. “Jesus Christ, Joe. Please.” Mitchell shook his head. Joe made this joke at least ten times a day. Joe smiled and leaned back. Thought to himself: I’m the funny one in the group. Mitchell wandered outside, his nude form quickly retreated as the cool air hit him. He looked forward to getting back in the bath and eating that banana. But, unknown to Mitchell, he would never get back in that bath. Nor would he ever eat that banana. No. Mitchell would not be doing anything that living people did, not even drumming on a desk or riding a Vespa scooter. Because Mitchell would be dead. Because the Woodsman was near. Mitchell reached for a banana that grew from a tree in the bountiful Tasmania jungle. “Being a terrorist is awesome.” He said aloud, smiling. Right as he touched the banana, a whooshing noise breezed past him. For a moment, he was unaware what had happened, until the pain reached his brain. Mitchell’s mouth opened as he watched his severed arm hit the floor. The Woodsman stood before him, smiling, blood dripping from his axe. “I always preferred to fight unarmed combatants,” the Woodsman laughed, feeling really clever. “You…” Mitchell attempted, his voice silenced by his head being lopped off in a very cool looking way.
“Sorry to cut you off, chum, but I’ve got an axe to grind elsewhere.” The Woodsman, Hunk, skittered towards the base.
In the bath Joe was wondering what had happened to Mitchell. He’d thought of another funny line to say, and didn’t want to forget. But forget he did. Yes, Joe forgot everything. Because he was chopped in half. While in the bath. By the Woodsman. With his axe hand. “Sorry you had to split,” Hunk, the Woodsman, said. The affect in his voice was listless. Like he was dead inside. Which you’d have to be to make such callous jokes about the loss of human life. Shefford walked into the room with the bath, already undressed, greased up so that he could slide around uncontrollably. It was a new game they’d been playing. They recommended it to their friends who also enjoyed it. But Shefford would not be recommended anything to anyone. Not unless a dead person is able to recommend not being dead. Which they wouldn’t be, because, like Shefford, they are dead.
Before killing Shefford, the Woodsman demanded to know where Ay Kia was. “I… I don’t know. It was his day off.” Hunk, the Woodsman screamed, and hacked Shefford to pieces. As the killing blow landed, Shefford thought to himself that at least he’d gotten to die doing what he loved: being covered in grease.
Hunk went through the rest of the tent-like rooms and killed all those he found, but it felt empty. Although his massacre was indeed brave and awesome, it felt like a pyrrhic victory if he was unable to slay Ay Kia. He requested extraction. By the time General Harder arrived and found him, The Woodsman had already dismantled every piece of wood in the base, carving them into all sorts of things: kitchen boards; bangles; bowls; candle holders; lamps. My god. They’re beautiful.” General Harder let out a single tear.
*IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BUY ANY OF THE FINE WOODEN PRODUCTS FEATURED IN DON’T AXE ME
AGAIN, SIMPLY GO TO THE SHOP PAGE HERE AT TREEHORN.