Tag Archives: short short story

Gardening Against the Future

 

“DON’T TOUCH THE MYOPATHIC SYCOPHANT PLANT!” The sign read.

The plant was a sickly purple-green. It had wobbly knobbles everywhere, broad leaves, and a great big flytrap mouth. It grew in a cowering shape, looking up at her from its position on the floor.

The little girl wanted to touch it.

She touched it.

It opened its mouth and screamed in pain. Then it collapsed. Upset, the child kneeled and cradled its head. Once this attention was received, the plant immediately started complimenting her and begging for money for its gardener bills.

The exasperated gardener approached. “Who touched that damn thing!” She said, one fist balled angrily on her coveralled hip, the other leading a hose.

The child screamed. She collapsed. She started complimenting the gardener and begging for money.

“You want to act like a plant, you’ll get treated like a plant,” the gardener said. She took the little girl by the shoulder and watered her thoroughly.

The girl stopped complaining and made gurgling noises instead.

When she considered her lesson well administered, the gardener pushed her back in the direction of her mother. “Learn to read,” she said. “Save you a world of trouble.”

The child tottered away, coughing and gasping.

The sycophant plant had seen what just happened. It huddled obscenely at the gardener’s feet in fear until its stem gave out and it collapsed completely.

“Oh, oh, oh,” it said. “You’re so strong and patient, won’t you help me up?”

“Ugh. I’ll get something to help stake you up,” the gardener said. As she headed toward the supply closet, she questioned her life decisions. Plants were getting to be too much like people. Why couldn’t she just garden roses? Roses were beautiful. They didn’t whine or moan or beg. They didn’t even think.

Sure, there were roses in this garden. But they had to be defended by increasing measures from the floral predators. Genetic engineering had gotten really out of hand here. The garden was a noisy place. The plants got into a lot of arguments.

She unlocked the shed and popped the door open. A slight resistance and then a tear. Oh no.

One of the plants and migrated into here and was rooting across the door. She knew which one it was before she even saw the tattered ficus leaves.

“Wandering Masochist! How many times do I have to tell you. You have a home.

“But I like doorways,” the Masochist said.

“You don’t have to torture yourself like this. You have a home. Go where you belong. You have supportive friends there.”

“I don’t want to.”

“If you don’t want to… then isn’t that all the more reason to do it?”

The ficus’s leaves turned upward cheerfully at that, and it wandered off. Hopefully it would go where it was supposed to be, but she doubted it. It was sure to find a new doorway to root across and wait for the tearing roots again. That thing…

She grabbed a stake, a few ties, and a towel, then locked the door behind her. She stuffed the towel under the crack in the door. That might keep it out, for a little while at least.

On her way back, she tripped over the Deciduous Package Hauler, who, for lack of a job, had grabbed a handful of Panic Pansies and was attempting to haul them to the other end of the garden. She stopped to free them from its clutches, then gave it the stake to deliver to the Sycophant. Package Haulers were working plants, bred for factory life. They struggled in a lush botanical environment.

Letting the Hauler go ahead, she paused to take in an abundant overgrowth of peaceful pink blossoms. Beautifully formed, quiet, unassuming plants. She hung her fingers on the chain link fence before it, careful to avoid the electrified wiring. The fence couldn’t keep out their perfume.

Life used to be simple, back when she gardened with her grandfather. They would pull the biting weeds and spend a guilt-free evening watching them writhe instinctively on the burn pile. They would give graham crackers to the Ghost Cactus. It loved chewing on graham crackers. And as for the roses, all you had to do was plant and water them.

When she sighed and let go, she turned back to work and saw with a shock that the Orange Lynx Fungus had been watching her. Its eyes were dark spore holes, its teeth black drips. It knew the fence was electrified and had been staying away, but now that it had seen her touch the weak spots in the fence, it was sure to figure out a new way in. This thing’s life ambition, it would seem, was eating roses.

Along with everything else in the world.

So what if roses were things of the past. So what if they could no longer hold their own against a rapidly changing environment. She would remain a gardener here as long as they, too, remained. She would protect the roses, even if she could only ever see them through an electrified chain link fence, through razor wire, through impact-resistant terrarium glass if it came to that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Still There

 

Anthony touched the pendant around his neck. It had been made for a girl, but he kept it under his shirt and nobody seemed to notice.

He felt the reassuring carved pattern. It was still there.

Last month he had almost left it at a friend’s house after using her shower. When he’d noticed it missing, he felt physically ill. Fortunately his friend had found it. She gave it back to him without questions. She hadn’t needed an explanation. She knew.

He rubbed his thumb over the pattern. It was wearing flat already from his constant fidgeting with it. He had to stop or it would break. He sighed. He couldn’t wear the necklace forever. It wouldn’t last. It was just a cheap dollar store necklace.

He could follow her.

He watched the blood pulse in his wrists. He felt the thumping of his heart. He relished the feeling of his active brain and functional, painless eyeballs.

She wouldn’t have wanted him to.

Tink.

The charm fell off of the necklace, and he caught it in his absently fiddling fingers without thinking. He fished it out of his shirt and examined it.

Bright red flowers. The small plastic loop which connected it to the chain had finally torn through.

He would never be able to repair it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Stone Cold Killer

 

I once took three men down with a single plastic drinking straw. I am the real deal. A stone cold killer.

I have assassinated fourteen people in my line of work. I terminated another ten just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Recently, I nearly died from being ill prepared. The target sent someone after me while my guard was down. I guess my name and face are starting to be known. I fought them off, but barely. Only luck saved me. I should have been better armed.

It’s alright now, though. I’ve sharpened my cuff links. I’ve got razor blades in my hair, grenades in my shoes, and a pistol up my ass. I am a walking arsenal. Nobody is catching me off guard again.

Oh shit I tripped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Incendiary

 

Sitting at the kitchen table by the window, smoking and watching out the open window. The screen had long since been torn away, by animals, perhaps. The scent of a dying fire on the cool evening breeze carried from the city: a primal, inviolable, deeply human smell.

I’d just come from there. My work for the day was done, and there was nothing to do now but rest.

They said the cigarettes had given me cancer, and cut out my larynx. Them. Doctors. Hospitals. People whose profession was to help you live. It all sounded so phony. Laughable, even.

I hadn’t wanted to go, but my husband had pleaded and begged me into it. In the end, I went for him.  He wasn’t afraid of what he called my paranoia, but he was terrified of losing me to cancer. He might have been naive but he was kind, and he loved me, and I could never say really say no to him; not when it mattered.  So they weren’t the ones who took my voice. I had given it as a gift to my husband, to stop his tears. After all, I still had hands to write, feet to run.

Now he was dead, too. Taken away by the same men in white, in an ambulance. Halfway through dinner, he’d fallen down. I hadn’t been able to protect him after all.

I tamped out the butt of my cigarette and lit up a new one, breathing deep. The sunset’s pink light caught the edges of the dissipating cloud over the city.  It was a beautiful evening. They couldn’t touch that.

A laser focused over my heart. I pretended not to notice, gave the marksman time to aim, and took one more long drag, relishing the flavor, the last thing left to me.

Aim well, bastards. I’ve already made my mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Defenders

 

Ba-thump.
His infant daughter gripped his fingertip with her whole hand. Linda was small, fragile, beautiful, everything in the world. All he wanted was to protect her.
Ba-thump.
Looking directly into Mary’s eyes for the first time. He’d never had the courage to talk to her until now. Her eyes were pthalo blue.
Ba-thump.
Speeding around the curves on his motorcycle, feeling the freedom, roaring wind in his ears drowning out all grief.
Ba-thump.
Standing before the congregation to deliver his final sermon. Odd that he would be nervous now, considering he’d stood here many times before with ease, even boredom.
Ba-thump.
Coming under the blankets just as his mom opened the door. Had she seen? She grabbed his laundry and left nonchalantly. No way to tell. She was a master of polite pretense.
Ba-thump.
Kissing Mary’s lips at their wedding.
Ba-thump.
Kissing Mary’s brow at her funeral.
Ba-thump.
The car rolling over him.
Ba-thump.
Cold.
Ba-thump.
He hadn’t bungee jumped yet. Linda had begged him until he promised she could go, but only if he came along to supervise. She was more brave than he’d ever been.
Ba-thump.
In utero, everywhere pulsing. The voices of his parents carried through to him, muddled by protective walls of warm flesh. “Let’s sing for him,” his father said. His mother laughed. Soon the comforting vibrations of familiar song thrummed into his core. He hadn’t understood what he’d heard at the time, but he recognized the hymn now.
His heart skipped a beat.
Instead of catching, his heart missed the next beat as well.
This pavement was cruel. He was frightened. It hurt. Something was very, very wrong with his body. It felt unbearably still, without a heartbeat.
Linda. He needed to stay here for Linda. He willed his heart into action one more time.
Ba…thum.
Vision flickering. As his consciousness mingled red with the motor oil and spread down the road, somebody took his hand. Maybe it was impossible, but it felt like his father’s grip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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