Welcome to another Writing Challenge!

In line with the previous one, this includes both a challenge and a prompt.

  • Challenge

Write something involving trees as a major element.

  • Prompt

[...] looked into the foliage, running [his/her/...] fingers through the moist grass.

Both of these options are optional - feel free to write something completely unrelated as well.

So to enter the challenge, you simply write something, and post it below. It can be a work in progress, and continue working on it while receiving feedback, or it can be a finished work - anything goes.

You can submit your entries until the end of the three weeks. After three weeks, we'll choose the next prompt and put up a new post.

You can either post the whole thing here, or, if you usually post your writing somewhere else, you can put a link here - although I'd advise putting something in to get people interested.

Remember: this is not a contest. This is merely for fun, and for some practice writing. There will (hopefully) be writers of all different skill levels posting - I'm certainly not super good.

You're welcome to provide feedback, but please make sure that it's constructive. And remember: Be Nice.

Remember that the age limit for the site is 13 - so please avoid excessive graphic content or strong language.

I look forward to reading the submissions!

Helpful: The original post that started all this. All these challenges can be seen under the tag. And the post by Neil Fein from which most of the above is shamelessly stolen borrowed.

  • 3
    I removed the featured tag and instead made a community event to promote it. (This is an attempt to get more than two meta questions linked in the community bulletin; events and meta posts are different sections, so let's see if this helps.) Sep 13, 2017 at 3:44
  • Can I still post for this? Or should I wait til the next challenge?
    – Vylix
    Sep 26, 2017 at 9:05
  • 1
    @Vylix Writing challenges are just for fun and practice, so I'd say go ahead if you want to.
    – user
    Sep 26, 2017 at 9:07

7 Answers 7


“Engineer Rees? Are you still there? Get to the root of it. Or leave.” The Supervisor was typically abrupt, but he was immune to it - she often came across more aggressively than she intended. He looked back at the screen.

It was beautiful. A frozen fountain, dark against the background. A symbol of permanence with ever-changing colours. A solid staple holding what was above to what was below in a spreading embrace.

Thomas scowled at it. That was the perennial trouble with dendritic software – it got him all metaphoric. That, and most of the time you couldn’t see the program for the code.

It was probably only a glitch, but it was beautiful.


Why is it, at this particular time of year, as I study the trees, I feel a piece of me is dying? Could it be the fall foliage, the dry leaves falling in the breeze? Perhaps it is the absence of trees, as land developers obliterate our green spaces to build more banks, tire stores, fast food restaurants, etc. I welcome the cooler weather, I welcome the changing season, I grieve for what is lost.

  • 1
    Nice. I especially like the first sentence, which could almost stand on its own, maybe broken into four verses at the commas. I feel that an abbreviation such as "etc" does not fit prose writing, though, and would replace it with the expanded version ("and so on").
    – user26338
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:30
  • 1
    Thanks, great comments. I am technical writer and just decided to try this challenge to do something more creative.
    – Rachel
    Sep 13, 2017 at 14:17

It was a cloudy cold morning. I was standing in front of the backdoor garden of my home looking at the pearly dew drops, perched on top of green grasses and leaves, in the freshly perfumed air. We looked into the foliage, running our fingers through the moist grass and teasing each other. Suddenly a door bell broke my reverie, only to receive a group of people who came for his condolence…!


By the time they exited the car, Liam had calmed down and was just admiring the scenery. Trees surrounded the complex of buildings that held treasures untold. People shuffled in and out of these shops, smells of fatty foods and produce filled the air, many colors were visible even from the parking lot. A trove of jewelry booths and clothing shops lay before the two men. Liam tugged on Greyson’s sleeve, ushering him forward.


Alright, I had fun with some robot thoughts. Out of my normal element. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Maxie acquired visual data from the orchard’s canopy, and ran its sensors through the damp groundcover. Soil moist. Then, focusing the data acquisition stream, the AGR-Groomba-619B assessed the health of a single almond tree. Leaves flat, facing upwards, unfurled. Drooping. Maxie looked at the leaves. Maxie looked at the trunk.

The signals conflicted. Damp soils, open leaves - sufficient water. Drooping leaves, nonsense. Does not compute.

Wet, birth. Wet, life. Wet, sick. Wet, death. Does not compute.

It had 4 minutes to complete the task. Maxie wheeled to the tree. It pushed its primary punctate sensor into the bark. Brittle. Flaky. Looking past the leaves to the sky, Maxie considered clouds, rain, temperature. Maxie wheeled, circling the tree. Looking down. Looking up. Looking again at the trunk. Lichen, trails of ants. Mosses. Birds pecking.

3 minutes.

Roxie wheeled towards Maxie. “Report.”

“Unable to comply.”


“Insufficient data. Does not compute."


“Water, sickness, Water, life.”

Two minutes.

“Inadequate. Probe.”


“Deactivation risk. Probe.”


“Examination approaches conclusion.” And Roxie wheeled off.

One minute.

Maxie analyzed the canopy. Leaves flat, facing upwards, unfurled. Drooping. Maxie analyzed Roxie’s suggestion. Subroutines ran, Maxie’s gizmos whirred and blipped. Probe. Avoid deactivation. Maxie wheeled to the tree and clamped the trunk with an extendable two-part metal collar. Encircling the trunk.

30 seconds.

Probes within the collar began to drill into the cambium of the trunk. Maxie acquired visual data during the drilling process. Sawdust blew outwards from each hole. A new subroutine ran. Cambium layer. Compromised. Nutrients prevented. Growth eliminated. Ecosystem threatened. Maxie stopped.

15 seconds.

Maxie looked at the canopy. Maxie looked at the trunk. Mosses, ants. Lichen. Birds seeking food.

Maxie extracted the drills. It retracted the collar to its sides. Roxie wheeled to Maxie.

Time out.


“Insufficient data.”


“Probe incomplete.”

“Query. Probe functional?”



“Wet, life. Wet, sick. Wet, death.” Does not compute.

“Deactivation risk.”



Maxie could not evaluate the ecosystem on a tree trunk, or communicate the billions of years of evolution that manifest within that ecosystem’s members. Without understanding the subroutine that had guided its decision, it had computed diversity to be more valuable than profit.

“Deactivation of Groomba 619B preferable to destruction of tree.”

“Nonsensical. Tree is unhealthy.” Roxie deactivated 619B and downloaded its data files and subroutines.

And Roxie looked at the leaves. And at the trunk.

Birds. Lichens. Ants. Mosses.


This is an excerpt from the novel I'm writing:

"As a last-ditch effort, I reoriented the Charger [a kind of mech] to land front-first, to avoid damage to the weaponry and the jump jets. However, I mistimed and miscalculated the effectiveness of the jets, due to the fact I had supercharged the jets prior to the Titan [another large robot] encounter. Instead of reorienting my bot, it instead sent it in a crazy spin, leaving me extremely dizzy. By some short of luck, I did manage to land it face-first, but it damaged the camera (remember the frontal display?) and bent the barrel of the Flamer [a weapon].

Man, my repair bill this week was going to be gargantuan.

I thought I had done it, and I reoriented my now-cracked display to scan the mech. Once it did, a Proximity Alert! warning flashed on my display. I was perplexed for a moment, but upon further analysis, I realized I was in grave danger. My move must’ve destroyed the main power cable leading to the weapons output function, which caused the mech to discharge extreme amounts of energy; it was enough to fry a bunch of other components as well. With no place else to go, the energy went down another exposed wire and rerouted back to the power core, which began to overload. This excess energy must’ve triggered the self-destruct sequence. Uh-oh.

I began to hobble my mech out of the blast range, but the totally helpful computer informed me that at that rate, I wouldn’t make it. A few seconds before the explosion, I suddenly remembered the presence of my jump jets. The same cursed jets that complicated my unruly descent now propelled me forward, well out of the blast range of the overloading fusion core. A brilliant show of light displayed on my screen as the entire mech exploded in a ball of light. However, I failed to notice that the leg I had damaged previously come down to meet me, ramming into the top of the hull. The Low Armor warning began beeping faster as I briefly saw the ceiling of the Charger lower by a few inches. The display dropped for the final time, displaying a simple message:
1,235/210,000 - 0.01%"


Sidestepping puddle after puddle, he traversed the terrain with feline agility, eyes darting from one glimmering pool to the next.

‘Predictable little things,’ Ignum smiled to himself with barely enough time to finish the thought. Absorbed in what lay before his feet, his head missed the half-broken hawthorn branch that came at him from above by mere inches. Skipping a step in mid-air, Ignum instinctively flung his arms in a horizontal arc.

Relinquishing his momentum to Lady Centripetal, the runner felt his body being thrown into an all-out three hundred and sixty-degree spin. In the precious instant in which his face cleared the low-hanging spike trap, he swore he saw two caterpillars fighting over a dewdrop on one of the leaves. He struggled for balance as inertia urged him forward for several wobbly strides before fully regaining his equilibrium.

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