Memory of a Masterpiece

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Expedition log ███
Item Class: Not Applicable (anomalous object)
Current Location: deciduous forest in ██████, ███████ (relocation discouraged)
Temporary Designation: AO-9131
Day 1 Notes: AO-9131 appears to be a variant of Platanus racemosa (Western sycamore). Leaves noted to change color every few days to reflect the pattern of the sky and foliage of surrounding trees. No further morphological anomalies are noted.

Isn’t it beautiful? So quiet. Everything is quiet. Just listen. Pour yourself into the experience, give yourself freely into the landscape, you wish to capture just a fraction of an eyeblink’s view, an infinitesimal slice of time carved out by your mind…

I painted this. Me. I remained for longer than intended, and I painted. I painted, and I remained. I became the sentinel on the coast; I now stand equal with the mighty trees that guard the forest.

Day 2 Notes: AO-9131 has been noted to produce faint noises, similar to human vocalizations. Analysis of preliminary recordings revealed no memetic properties. More sensitive recording equipment requested, currently en route to temporary expedition base.

Sometimes you want to do more than capture, more than preserve. You want to disappear entirely, want to become a part of what you behold.

You want to do more than see the grains of sand fall through your fingers. You want to be the sand, be the river that laps patiently at the muddy stone-bank, smoothing the harsh rocks to unblemished pebbles.

Day 3 Notes: Closer examination of AO-9131. Textures of the bark, leaves, and seed pods are irregular.

  • Bark has patterns consistent with linen cotton canvas
  • Seed pods, when split, shed bunches of short, dark-colored hair. Samples collected, DNA analysis of hair will be done upon return to Site labs.
  • Leaves possess oily sheen. After colors change (approx. once every 2 days), leaves are wet to touch. Paintlike substance rubs off. Samples collected. Chemical analysis using field kit underway.

I wanted to be forever in the place I was inspired—to never have to close my eyes to bring back the memories, to eternally be able to reach out and touch the landscape that so enraptured me.

Just as it was always a part of me, I am a part of what I love. Now it is everything that I am, now, at long last, I know the colors of the sky I could never mix just right with my humble paints.

Day 4 Notes: Recording equipment has arrived. Higher-quality recordings of tree “whispers” taken, content is indecipherable. Attempts at communication ruled out; vocalizations deemed low-priority area-based anomaly emanating from tree.

I never finished the painting I’d once believed to be my life’s masterpiece. It doesn’t matter anymore.

It is one thing to mix colors of light, another thing entirely to feel these colors on your upturned face, drink them in with every fiber of your being… I want everyone to see me, see what I’ve strived to emulate, see the fragment of infinity I’ve managed to hold onto and preserve for snatches of time. See me. See me, and the beauty that surrounds me. I think, I dream, I weep, I bleed, and the canopy fills with the silk swathes of sky.

Day 5 Notes: Color-changing leaves may be some form of camouflage or other defense mechanism. Based on close observation, tree seems susceptible to fungi and insects that prey upon non-anomalous variants. No anomalous predators encountered during duration of stay. Further investigation of color change pending; mechanism is believed to be secretion of dye-like substances from leaves at regular time intervals.

“Is it time to go already?” There is a crash from somewhere amidst metal supports, a muttered curse, and the sound of a tent collapsing.

“Mercer, we only requested five days for the observation period. We’ve got enough info to lay down prelim containment. There’s already an abandoned ranger house nearby that will be remodeled for a live-in agent, and as of three a.m. today, the entire forest is owned by, well, a company we know.” Dr. Kiryu rolls up the top of a near-empty bag of dried fruits. “Besides, we’re almost out of food.”

“There was an up-and-coming en plein air artist who disappeared up here, you know. According to newspaper clippings the lab techs pulled. All the locals ever found were a few canvases and tubes of paint. Guy was eventually called a lunatic and a litterbug. Do you think…” Researcher Mercer briefly looks over his shoulder as he wrestles with packing up the tent.

Kiryu sighs, and picks up a sample bag containing a few waxy, pastel-sheen colored leaves. He regards them almost fondly, almost regretfully, in the dim light of early morning.

“It’s possible that this is something he left behind. But we never really know anything for sure except how to keep an eye on these things.”

Temporary Containment Procedures (Doctor M. Kiryu, Researcher R. Mercer)
Anomalous Item #████ Cache: N/A
Recovery Date: ██/██/████
Description of Effects: Nonthreatening morphological and auditory anomalies
Item is to remain in original location of discovery. A repurposed ranger cabin is to house two Foundation personnel, who will maintain security of the location. Land has been reallocated to Foundation assets; passersby are to be turned away under the premise of a forest-wide restoration process.
Additional Notes: Item is believed to be the work of an anomalous individual. Investigation of the identity of the anomaly’s creator currently deemed unnecessary.

Memo: re:AO-9131
Should any civilians possess existing knowledge of the anomaly and make resulting inquiries, they are to be informed that the tree is an ongoing artistic monument, dedicated to honor the Plein Air artist ████ █████, a frequent visitor to the forest, believed deceased missing.

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