There is a tree that grows in hell.  

There is more rock than soil. The tree's roots branch desperately lower and lower, looking for something to nourish itself. 

There are demons who whisper that the pebbles take pity on the tree and give a little of themselves to it in admiration. 

That would explain, they think, why the bark is ashy and grey, flinting shards of itself against the palms and horns of any who dare touch it. Many have jumped back, surprised and bleeding, as their drops of what could pass for blood wet the rocky soil, sucking their thumbs and murmuring amongst each other. 

No sunlight reaches hell, therefore no green leaves grow on the tree. No matter the season, it appears to be always winter, despite the scorching heat. It straggles across the horizon, each barren branch a clawed clutch for something more than the rocky soil and the starless hopeless sky stretching without end above them.  

What kind of tree has no fruit? So the angels whispered who deigned to view the tree, like it was a bit of gossip whispered and tutted about in heaven.  

There were rumors that the tree had once blossomed, yet none could say when or where. The angels asked the demons who resided there if they had ever seen the tree flower. Most demons could only shrug and murmur, i-unno.  The angels, reflecting the brightness of the sun in their gaze, stood looking upon the tree in the hopes that their gloriousness would encourage the tree to bloom but the bark shriveled, and a branch fell and shattered into shards of fractured stone at their feet. 

The demons tugged their robes, howling that they were killing the tree they were killing it how dare they. 

Their cries echoed alongside the gnashing of teeth until Satan came and ushered the angels from his domain. There are plenty of trees up on earth and in heaven, he told them, why don’t you feast your hungry eyes on them. And he was right—trees on earth obeyed the seasons and in heaven there was every kind of tree imaginable, perpetually blooming, always bearing fruit. Why, one could merely reach out a hand and pluck a perfectly ripe pear and bite into it, dribbling juice all over one’s chin, mouth instantly filling with sweetness and light and joy. Or if bodily nourishment wasn’t their thing, they could satisfy their eyes on the glorious, beautiful fruit until they were no more, until their gaze had burned it to ash and memory—so plentiful was heaven they need only tilt their head a little to the right or to the left and lo, there would be another one tree with even more fruit for their satisfaction. 

Go back to those trees, Satan huffed with a shove against their shoulders and the eyes that resided right there between their thin blades of bone and righteous fury.  

And when all was quiet once more, when the demons grew sleepy and exhausted, a snake slithered across the rocks, climbing the trunk of the barren tree of hell until its long body graced its branches.  

And wherever its smooth belly passed, a bud grew and bloomed and died, and the snake did not mourn the fruit that lived and died, for it had already tasted of the tree and was satisfied.  

A speed-write based on the words hell, tree, rose written in twenty minutes. Nouns generated via this site: [link]

Audio Version can be found here: [click]