Vegetation
Vegetation

When you offend the kingdom of plants, the whole world really is out to get you.

Vegetation

The deed might have gone unpunished if not for the wrath of the most dominant and diverse army on the planet. Typically silent witnesses to the atrocities of man, the world of plants this time will rise up collectively to see that justice is served. And Bertram Luce will find his pursuers literally everywhere he turns.

Excerpt from "Vegetation"

Luce was bleeding from various wounds and crimson spots dripped onto his white Pierre Cardin shirt. He gazed back at the scene of battle and watched with cringing fascination as the rent stems twisted their way back into the tall grass like wounded eels. A fallen flower flapped against the rocks, its petals opening wider as if in a scream.

He took one step toward it, meaning to stomp it into the consistency of gravy, but was stopped when something hard clobbered him on the side of the head. The blow elicited immediate screaming in his head and he dropped to his knees, clutching his right ear.

Another blow hammered down on his back. A third came in the form of an uppercut and pounded his ribs. He twisted his body to look up at the assailant, saw a flash of brown, and then felt bright pain in his left eye. Again, fireworks in his head. White flowers of light. He began to crawl up the stone path, toward the house, rocks tearing through his slacks, slicing his knees and hands. Behind him rose the staccato sound of drumming, slightly muffled. It sounded like rocks wrapped in dish cloths raining down upon the earth.

When he reached the fallen lily, he mashed it with the side of his fist. He crawled as close to the center of the path as he could and felt grass and flowers reaching for him. Halfway to the house, he got to his feet again and spun around.

The cattails were battering the ground in apparent hysteria.

***

The African violet, still anchored to its pot, was reaching with those dense, multi-layered flowers and pulling itself across the floor. Luce watched in disbelief as a flower stretched out, made a small sucking sound against the tiles, and then used its stem to pull itself forward. The porcelain pot scraped against the tile as it moved, a grating, stealthy sound he did not like at all. Yet for a moment, he stood and watched this awful display. He watched another flower lunge forward, plop against the tile and then tug the pot two inches further across the floor. Luce could see or maybe sense how the flowers and stems strained together, in a coordinated effort, to approach its enemy.

The sight of it -- the very concept of it made his skin feel cold. He would not be more repelled if the maggoty remains of a dead animal at roadside rose on decaying limbs and stalked toward him.