Once there was a village of poor people. They were ordinary people, but there was one son among them that was quite clever. He started growing an orchard with the lofty goal of making the perfect fruit that could be made into anything. Decades he worked and tested his fruit, each generation of trees produced better fruit until he could produce none better. He gathered the pits from the fruit of his best tree, and planted a massive orchard. He and the other villagers carefully grafted and nurtured the trees, and by the time the clever man died, the entire village was full to bursting with fruit from the orchard.
There was only one flaw with the fruit, which compared with its usefulness, was hardly a flaw at all. The pit was deadly poison. The villagers didn’t mind because they just ate and used the flesh of the fruit and buried the pits in a landfill outside of town. The squirrels and other scavengers that made their homes near the landfill gorged themselves on the pits. Many animals died, but the ones that survived became immune to the poisoned pits. They scattered the seeds around the kingdom and scrubby seedlings grew from the pits. Without proper care and nurturing, the trees that grew from the pits were a nuisance. The neighboring villages were irritated with the orchard because of the scrubby saplings and they didn’t like it at first, but after a while, they were astonished, because the orchard and the fruit had transformed the town.
The miraculous fruit truly could be made into anything. The villagers busied themselves day and night harvesting the fruit. They put up big lamps so that they could take it in shifts to care for the trees of the orchard and harvest the fruits around the clock every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year. Their children and their children’s children tended the trees and harvested the fruit.
After several decades, the village had created a wide assortment of clothing, including invisibility cloaks, exotic looking furs and capes, colorful and chic shoes. People came from neighboring villages to barter for the fantastic creations. They made teleportation devices to make trade easier with the outside world. They built beanstalks that reached to the clouds where they built grand houses out of clouds. The pillows and mattresses in the clouds were so soft and so comfortable, that the villagers, when they weren’t working in the orchard, had perfect nights of sleep, with perfect dreams.
They shared the secrets of their orchard with neighboring villages. Those villages grew their own orchards with the magical amazing fruit. And the landfills bulged with the poisoned pits, and the streams were polluted as the pits rotted in their fetid graveyards, but the villagers just made water filters to clean their water. They couldn’t be troubled with the pits and the poison. In fact, they couldn’t really be troubled with caring for the orchard so much anymore. They were too busy climbing their beanstalks, napping in their perfect beds, and dreaming their perfect dreams. The fruit and the trees didn’t seem to be so important anymore. They didn’t need the fruit so much because they had already used it to make everything they wanted and needed.
One day the wealthiest and cleverest man of the village who had become the mayor teleported to a far away land. The people complained to him about the landfill and the poisoned pits. Wearing his finest clothing, made from the fruit of the tree, riding in a fine carriage, made from the fruit of the tree, he rode out to the landfill which was full of dead animals, poisoned water, and rotting pits. He took a camera, made from the fruit of the tree, and took pictures of the awful scene. For years he talked about what he had seen. Their orchard was poisoning the kingdom. “You have been eating the fruit of the poisoned tree,” he warned them. “You have to clean up the messes you’ve made,” he scolded them. And so the villagers no longer cared for the trees at all. In fact, they despised the trees and their parents and grandparents who had planted them. “What good is all this fruit anyway?” they asked contemptuously. “Its just the fruit of the poisoned tree,” they reasoned. Instead of growing the fruit, they focused on cleaning the poisoned water and the lands that had been polluted by the rotting pits.
The children of the villagers began to be angry. “Why had the village planted all these poisonous trees!” They railed and they ranted and they screamed at their parents because they were tired of cleaning up the messes. The mayor tried to calm the children. He tried to explain that the trees were not poison, just the pits were poisoned, but the children would not listen. Some of the parents were angry at the children because they didn’t appreciate the trees and the fruit. They elected a new mayor.
The new mayor said that the old mayor was wrong. “There is nothing wrong with the trees or the fruit,” he insisted. He called the former mayor all kinds of awful names and his supporters cheered. He invited all his supporters to a big party where he stood in front of them. “See,” he explained to raucous applause, “This fruit is so great. It’s the best fruit in the whole world. There is nothing wrong with it at all.” The man seemed to swell in size until he swallowed up the whole village, and the surrounding village, and then the whole world. “See what the fruit can do,” he said as everyone gasped in horror, “and he swallowed the fruit whole. Nothing seemed to happen to him, except his face seemed to shine with a sinister glow. The mayor and his supporters didn’t know that it would take a few minutes for the poison to cause symptoms. Emboldened by his rash act, the villagers imitated their leader. They stuffed whole pieces of fruit into their mouths as quickly as they could. Their mouths were stained with the juice of the fruit, and they laughed and cheered at one another as they rejoiced in the fruit and the boldness of their mayor.
But then a hush fell over the village. They began feeling the effects of the poison. Some began vomiting violently. Fetid pools of vomit began forming around the sick people. The stench of the poisoned vomit surrounded the party goers like a mushroom cloud. Others turned a sickly shade of orange and lay on the ground moaning. Gradually the villagers died a slow and painful death. Their mayor, so large before, was nowhere to be seen. Only death could deliver them from their pain.
And the children were angry. They took torches and stormed into the orchard and burned every tree. They took the fruit that had been stored and created massive ovens. Then they gathered all the fruit that had been so carefully stored, and they incinerated it in the ovens. They dug up the roots of the trees out of the earth and incinerated them too. But still the anger of the children could not be sated. They chanted, “Down with the poisoned trees!” and “Death to the fruit of the poisoned tree!”
The grief of the village was overwhelming as they buried the bodies of their friends and countrymen who had consumed the poisoned pits. They cleaned up the mess, and life went pretty much back to normal, but without the fruit of the trees, the village began to gradually fall into disrepair. The beanstalks fell to the ground and the people could no longer climb to their homes with the perfect beds and perfect pillows to dream their perfect dreams. They instead made huts of mud and what sticks they could find from the trees they had destroyed. Their teleportation devices stopped teleporting them. They lost contact with the other villages who still had orchards. The people remembered how many good things the fruit had done for them, and they were sad that they had burned the trees, but it was too late to undo what was done and much was lost that would never be recovered..