The day Mother Nature rose up to reclaim the world began like most days on the U.C. Campus, in Berkeley, California.

Dr. Warren Stiles, PhD., renowned physicist famous for research into dark matter and subatomic particle interchange portals as vehicles between dimensions, stood on stage at the podium before an eager audience in the newly refurbished Prescott Hall. He was about to up his fame once more in the quantum physics community. The highly publicized, sold-out event packed a standing-room-only crowd milling about in the aisles, mingling and engaging the media who stood ready with cameras and microphones. Dr. Stiles spoke a few words to a production team of technicians over the din of the large room of people, took the stage, and remained calm and perfectly still at the podium, allowing his eyes to adjust to the stage lights. He took deep breaths to quiet his heart while staring down reviewing his notes, and waited for the crowded room to settle in and the murmurs in the audience to subside before he spoke.

When silence finally seized the room, Dr. Stiles looked up smiling, acknowledging the change, and simply said, “Thank you for coming out tonight.” Warren Stiles was a plain-spoken man, humble despite his fame and fortune. He personally invited the press to attend. Dr. Stiles was known to be a good bet: he’ll deliver when he staged an event.

Applause echoed in the great hall, and Dr. Stiles paused once again for the noise to subside, cleared his throat and motioned for the audience to please sit down and take their seats. He continued his introduction, “Thank you, again. Yes, sit down please, thank you. Thank you, please. Thank you.” He paused a beat, and began again. “Thank you. Some years ago, before I began work on this project, I told my mother, who was up in years at the time, and not long for this world, if I was lucky someday I may get to stand before an audience like this one and say these words.” He paused for a second to sigh, and continued. “I wish my parents were alive to see me today. They would have been proud of their son.” He stood there, eyes straight ahead, accepting the applause, allowing for the immense pleasure of the moment to wash over him. He sighed again.

Professor Stiles appeared on stage looking worn, but capable at fifty-five years old. He stood five foot ten inches tall in street shoes, and weighed one hundred and thirty pounds, too thin for his height, according to his wife and physician. He’d been dragging himself around since he returned to Earth from the International Space Station, although tonight he felt peppy. He wore a white plain cotton long sleeve shirt open at the neck, and light gray wool slacks that hung from his narrow hips. He bowed slightly showing his respect and gratitude to the crowd’s response, and continued. “As many of you know, I spent seven months on the International Space Station conducting my experiments. And, I assure you the experience was the adventure of a lifetime, and proved well worth the wear and tear, even if my legs are still wobbly six months back on solid ground. One hopes they return to full strength soon.

“But, some experiments can only be performed free of atmospheric interferences. And, the results of our experiments have confirmed my theories to be correct. Life is eternal. We now have scientific proof, including the location where our souls reside between lifetimes spent on Earth. We have gained access and substantial knowledge into the non-local dimension where the souls of our ancestors reside. To get there you need to first shed your physical body. To leave you must be born again. Until now. We believe we have discovered the key to pull souls back across the threshold of interdimensional reality at will, from non-local to our local dimension without having to give birth in the process.

“And, I am here tonight to welcome back my mother, who made the greatest cheesecake in the world, and who, having recently passed away, has agreed to return, not back from the dead, but where the living go between lives.” The professor looked off stage for confirmation, and said, “OK, can we do this? Action, camera? Yes? Ok? Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce my mother, the late and latest, Mrs. Evelyn Stiles."

The room exploded in applause. “Oh my God!” gasped a stunned and surprised crowded hall. “Can he be serious?” The audience of hundreds stood up and gave the doctor a rousing, thunderous ovation for this marvelous achievement…if it is true, followed by cheers and wild hoots and howls. The cameras were rolling. This was reincarnation on demand. The media was there, but no one expected Stiles to bring his mother back from a different dimension. How does she look? This was bigger than big, and rather than tell us how this feat is achieved, he’s going to show us live as it happens.

A low rumbling vibration began seeping up through the floor boards from beneath the ground where the auditorium stood, while the excited expectant audience waited on the edges of their seats for the late Mrs. Evelyn Stiles to walk on stage, or appear somehow. A mild earthquake, a shaker, common to the area shook the room. People froze grabbing hold of one another for balance to prevent falling. Those on the edges of their seats slid back and held the armrests. Everything shook, and didn’t stop shaking. Such an odd sensation quickly caught the auditorium off guard, going from clamorous to dead quiet, apprehensive of what the shaking might portend.

Sure, earthquakes in Northern California were common, and lasted on average a few seconds, but this one didn’t stop. The auditorium became a boat in a violent sea. People standing grabbed the seat before them and then sat back down, and those sitting held on and stretched their legs out to brace themselves. Some reached for a seat belt not there. The room suddenly transformed into a large Ouija board séance, until the walls and the seats they sat on started rocking. A loud cracking sound of everything breaking apart accompanied the real and sudden shaking and breaking apart going on all about them. The walls buckled; the roof began to sag.

Alarm led to panic, and fear. Shouts and screams of terror rang out. The creaking auditorium floor swayed back and forth, and the building rose at the same time. The floor of the great room lifted, tilted, and broke free from its pilings, and now the main entrance faced in a different direction. You could hear the hardwood floor breaking at the seams. The entire building rose skyward. Attendees held on for dear lives. Some dove to the floor to prevent themselves from falling and hoped to ride out the storm. Others rolled until something blocked them from rolling further. An explosion of horror rose with cries of confusion, people tumbling in the aisles piling up on one another, crying out in pain, and calling for help. Some ran to the exits doors in a mad scramble to escape the auditorium, opened the doors and found themselves looking down from a hundred feet in the air.

The exploding energy shaking the Earth widened out into the streets and boulevards surrounding the university grounds in every direction. No earthquake, this event. No mere shaker. More like a volcano emerging from below the sea blowing the earth to bits. Something truly alarming grew here. You could hear nails being ripped from construction boards, glass shattering and the smell of gas. Everything not fastened to something rolled and tossed.

Dr. Stiles fell from his dais and toppled off the stage with a thud, and slid to a corner of the big room and stopped abruptly when he slammed against a wall. He paused senseless looking bewildered and helpless. Grasping for answers he looked up when he heard someone say, “Some cheesecake. Heavy on the yeast.” Equipment toppled over. Several stage crew members lay unconscious having fallen from the stage into the pit and were heard groaning. The smell of vomit spread. Others lay bleeding.

Outside Prescott Hall, people were crushed beneath collapsed buildings and homes. Cars and busses rolled over on warped, upset streets and broken pavement for miles around. The giant web of civic infrastructure, sewers and water lines, gas pipes, and the underground power cables for the entire metropolitan area, were stretched until they snapped, breaking into pieces, as the lands rose and bridges fell. And pipes and broken cables hung lifeless, dangling from the torn-up roadsides and broken municipal improvements.

***

Evelyn Stiles was a very large tree in a former lifetime, a dominant mother oak from a magical age left unrecorded, when trees flourished and ruled the Earth. The kind of tree said to have given birth to man. Mrs. Stiles was a major player in the history of trees. Remember me? In the beginning was the tree? When forests covered the land from sea to sea and trees ruled the world.

And now, she has returned, rising from the bowels of the earth, and swelling with such delicious nutrients. She burst free upwards toward the sky and sun, renewed and full of life, and exhibiting a growth spurt never experienced before. And, she thought, how long have I been dormant? Where will my roots end this time?

No one rushed to answer questions regarding the late Mrs. Evelyn Stiles’ disastrous reincarnation and the mess she made of her grand reappearance. No one thought about her son’s amazing discoveries now, or the multi-story campus buildings and dorms crashing down from his mother’s fast growing boughs and shoulders. Walls tumbled to the ground at her sides and stacked up like piles of trash.

This hardwood tree of ancient history was back with a vengeance, in the springtime of her second youth, miraculous and with a soaring force, she reached for the clouds. And below ground, she dug in deep and spread her toes wide and far, digging into the cool, wet, sandy grounds of Berkeley, California, and beyond, like the Promised Land no one ever promised her. Trees don’t make promises where she came from.

The Northern California winter had been an unusually wet one, and the runoff from the hills fed the underground streams and fertile grounds around Mrs. Stiles, and she grew and reached out in all directions expanding into the cool moist earth, as a pre-industrial darkness spread across the Berkeley hills and beyond in response. No one knew the extent of her reach yet, not even her. But, she was determined to find out in short order.

Those along for the ride felt cheated and robbed of life and everything they knew and owned, as their world got turned upside down. Fires rose from the broken gas lines beneath the torn up ravaged streets lighting up the horizon. And, where the late Evelyn Stiles stretched and extended her roots and branches, a forest rose, retaking the world.

By midnight, her great ringed breasts and hips measured five miles wide in circumference, breaking the soil and elevating into the sky, leaving the city in tatters atop her. She shook her woolly green mop-top head and the remaining pieces of a past world fell to the ground in total ruin, turned to compost and fertilizer smoldering in the widening flames.

Mrs. Stiles was a very old soul, profound and gregarious. Her arrival sparked a new era for the world, a new beginning the moment she burst on the scene, the day her limbs turned green.

Sometimes, you get it right the first time, when trees ruled the world, and men were monkeys…before the birth of fire. One tree led to another. They came with seeds by air and water, roots worked the underground and retook the land. The human race had no defense against a band of super trees determined to reclaim the land and dominate the world like never before. Disruptions led to chaos, war, famine, and disease. How do you fight a band of commando trees? Civilization crumbled. The Earth recovered from the deeds of man, and swept them beneath the carpet of history, reduced to dust. Debts called in. Trees thrived amid the chaos and confusion.

Mrs. Evelyn Stiles had a master plan: grow baby grow. She forgot all about her professor son. She spent the past five million years floating a plan to retake the world, while in the non-local folds of time, in the light, as they say, awaiting her next incarnation. She may have waited considerably longer with her retrograde ideas and destructive plans. She was not the same soul her son thought her to be when she got the call.

In the years following her reappearance, the human race devolved by circumstance into a superior tree dwelling catlike hybrid man, perfect for the needs and maintenance of Mrs. Stiles’ vast forest and queendom of trees. Don’t ask the catmen where they came from. They shake their heads they don’t know. They just live here. The trees know, but they aren’t talking, except the old ones, and only amongst themselves.