Of Withered Apples

We Can Remember CoverAccording to the PKD fan site, the short story Of Withered Apples was written in 1950, after PKD’s attempt at a novel entitled The Earth Shaker.  Supposedly, an outline and a few chapters of that novel are extant, but I have no access to it yet.

After submitting the short story to SMLA in 1953, it was published in Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy in July of 1954. Categorically I define it as a fantasy/horror story; and at a mere 8 pages, it begins with a summoning.  The version I read can be found in Citadel Press Book’s collection, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick.

A withered leaf makes its way into the hands of the young wife Lori. She, recognizing the Withered Applesadulterous message it brings, coyly begs for permission to go (to the modern reader these implorations will seem archaic, and perhaps even offensive, but remember this scene was set in 1950s America).  Steve, her husband, and Ed, her father-in-law, not wanting to be bothered as they conduct business, dismissively allow her visit–with the understanding she’ll be back in time to prepare their supper.

At the sexually charged rendezvouz with the old withered apple tree, Lori (Eve?) lamely rejects her arboreal paramour; but it is evident that this is not their first encounter. Agressively, the dry and shriveled lover manages to plant his seed within her, sending her off with a small, but potent taste of his fruit.

Later that night, Lori awakens in excruciating pain, and dies from appendicitis.  Steve, in agony, laments bringing her to the country away from the city, and blames himself for her untimely death.  His father’s futile attempts to console him do little to ease his pain.

Later, when visiting her grave site with his father, the two men encounter a young vibrant rosy apple tree rising from Lori’s burial ground. Shaken, with Steve’s father sensing the obvious danger, the two retreat and make a hasty exit.

Disclaimer: this is an amateur attempt, and I claim no academic or inside knowledge.  I am only a fan, and in no way affiliated with PKD. I’ll make sure to credit my sources, but errors will be made, and I will be solely responsible.  Feel free to correct me, but please do so with a gentle hand. Let’s talk first.