Will Mother Nature bring about the demise of humanity?
By Stephen A Abell.
Number Of Words: 4853
Fuck, I fell asleep and now I’ve awoken into a new nightmare.
First, let me state - It is in my professional opinion, as a botanist, that Mother Nature is a fucking bitch. Now don’t get me wrong, she has every reason to be; we’ve raped and molested her enough, in the name of humanity; she is well overdue to say enough is enough and royally fuck us up, and over. This time she’s firing all the guns, it ain’t no piddling earthquake or tsunami which kills a few hundred. This is all out warfare and there is a real risk we’ll lose it all.
I‘m going to “cut-n-paste” my journal entries below, so you’ll have an insight to the cause of man’s impending annihilation. Besides, I don’t have the energy left, and I think my time is too short, to write a new, complete, factual account. This will give you the back-story to our dilemma, and hopefully stoke the fires of urgency under some arses to do something about the problem.
Mark Warren phoned today. It’s been three years since I heard from him last. It was to be expected though; he was more Margie’s friend then mine. In fact I think it was at her funeral I saw him last. He was in such an agitated state it was hard to follow the track of the conversation. In the end, I figured out he wanted my E-mail address as he’d taken a photo of a plant he wanted me to see and voice an opinion on. He thought he’d found a new species in his garden and wanted an expert eye to clarify his find. To make sure it wasn’t just cross-pollinated.
When I opened the E-mail, I have to admit, I fell into the same excited state as Mark. The picture showed a beautiful open leaf flower, similar to a clematis, but not as thin or fine. They looked to have the waxy finish and depth of an orchid. Deep blue stained the inner petal while a scarlet red border ran around its circumference. The stem was like a rose’s, bristling with long deadly thorns. And, he described it’s leaves to being the same thickness of a jade plants but the shape an ivy. The strangest thing for me was Mark stated it is was crawling over the ground and showing all the signs of being a creeper. Even by my cursory inspection of its image on the monitor, I was amazed it wasn’t a climber or a shrub.
I phoned him back straight away and arranged to pop down to his place tomorrow, oh the joys of being a retired lecturer. I’d have to wait ‘til five, he told me, as he couldn’t get away from work any earlier, but I was welcome to stay for a drink, a meal and the night. Which was fine by me, I don’t like driving after nightfall, these new halogen bulbs play havoc with my eyes.
WOW. It’s a great word, isn’t it? WOW.
Mark is right. It is a new genus of plant-life; or a new species altogether. While I examined the photograph yesterday, I thought it could be a practical joke, given the date – a nice piece of photoshop. If it wasn’t, then I was thinking hybrid. As it looked as though there were elements of other flowers and plants fused into it. Now seeing it with me own eyes and noting the size and shape better I‘m leaning towards a new species. I am loath to dig it free of the earth, not knowing if the disturbance will shock it into death. Monitoring its growth and progress on the ground will have to suffice. First thing in the morning I’ll E-mail Mark’s picture and the others I’ve taken to some colleagues for their opinion. I am so excited; I think sleep will not find me tonight.
It’s amazing, the plant has doubled in size, and where only one flower bloomed there are now three and all of this in just one short night. I am at a loss about this find. Never before have I ever seen, or even heard about such a growth pattern. We will have to see what happens over this next night as dear Mark has granted me indefinite stay privileges, for which I’m eternally grateful. Something like this only comes along … once in a blue moon.
I cannot believe it. Time slipped away from me today; at least Mr Jinx’ll be looked after while I’m away – though Mrs. Kraken can chat for England and kept me away from studying the plant, which I’ve now named Warren’s Crawler. As things are like to do, the conversation ran on over an hour. Note – reimburse Mark for call. I’d promised to make a trip into town to pick up some extra supplies for us, now there’s an extra mouth to feed. After unpacking the groceries, I looked out the kitchen window.
Warren’s Crawler has two extra flowers wafting happily in the breeze.
When I checked this morning, there was no sign of single bud on the plant. As planned, I’ve snapped a myriad of photos and have just sent them out to my colleagues. Being a cautious man, I’ve not divulged the address of the crawler. I know if I did, we’d be overrun by experts, within hours. I’m happy, for the moment, to let the description and the photographs circulate. Hopefully I’ll receive some constructive criticism later.
I’ve been out to measure the crawler every ten minutes and it seems to be stable. There is no extra growth and no more flowers have popped through.
Still stable. Usually I would only need to check a plant once every few days and record any changes. But, with the rapidity of this plant, I am afraid if I’m not constantly watching it then I’ll miss something truly amazing. I just cannot believe the plant sprutted a couple of buds and they opened and flowered within a few hours, and now, nothing. My heart is beating so fast and hard with anticipation I can feel it shaking my frame. Never have I felt this way – I feel so alive.
I asked Mark if he could help me and smell the flower. Can you believe it, a botanist who suffers with hay-fever! It wasn’t always the case; I only started with it about eight years ago. Now if I get one whiff of pollen up my snout then I’m done. My eyes stream, my nose itches and runs, violent sneezes bang my brain into the front of my skull with such force that I suffer dizzy spells. My throat constricts and I have difficulty breathing. It ain’t no walk in the park – pardon my sarcasm. Anyway, after laying down on the soil and taking a huge inhale and slow exhale, he tells me it smells a little of lemon and mint – but it is a faint smell at best. “Nothing to write home about,” he tells me.
The flowers have all closed up into tight rounded spires; now the sun has set, leaving them in shadow – just like osteopernums. The underside of the petal is a bright orange in colour and consists of millions of thin, but long, blood red hairs. They look to be very sturdy, even in this meagre torchlight, I can see the definition of each curved strand, as it follows the outline of the flowers. I wonder what purpose they serve. I will take a few more snaps. My curiosity has reached a new peak.
It seems like I made a wise choice in not sniffing the crawlers scent, poor old Mark is sneezing his head off. He assures me he doesn’t suffer with hay-fever and has never been allergic to pollen of any kind before. My heart goes out to him for taking the brunt of the attack – he say’s his nose is “Itchin’ like a bitch with crabs” and it’s driving him nuts. His eyes have just started to water and they’re bloodshot. My God, what would’ve happened if I’d decided to have a smell? I’d probably be in hospital right now. I am posting an urgent warning to my friends and colleagues warning them off the plants pollen strength.
The plant itself likes the darkness to grow in. By my calculations, it’s lengthened by a good five millimetres since sunset, and I can see a couple of fresh buds pushing free of the thorny stem.
I’ve set up a camp bed in the small lean-to conservatory and my mobile’s alarm to vibrate every couple of hours – so as not to awaken Mark. I will jot down my findings and type them up in the morning; I know what a restless night can do to a working man.
This morning, I was rudely awoken by Mark, shaking me out of my slumber. I must admit to cursing him, could he not afford me the same consideration I did him, until I saw the state he was in. There was blood everywhere, and I mean everywhere. His nose was bleeding profusely and the poor man could not stop sneezing – though, truth be said, it wasn’t as bad as the previous night. Though, with every explosive exhale a stream of blood flew through the air, with a red mist surrounding it. To me it looked like some macabre mini comet. A portent of doom. The walls, floor, furniture, and knick-knacks were covered in globs of the sticky red liquid. I looked over his shoulder and a chill ran down my spine as I traced his path down the hallway.
By the time we reached the Hospital, the inside of my car looked like a bloodbath. I remembered the scene from Pulp Fiction where one guy, on the backseat of a car, was definitely “Not Cool”; Samuel L Jackson’s character put a bullet through his head. It’d been shocking and gory scene. My poor VW was worse. A couple of paramedics came rushing over to help. Mark sneezed straight into their faces for their troubles. Unperturbed, they hauled him out of my small car and walked him into the emergency waiting room, between them. All of Marks energy had been eaten away by the strength of his sneezing attack. As I slammed my door shut, I noticed his feet dragged behind him. What had I done to this man?
Due to his blood loss and the continuing explosive bloody volcano, he called a nose; they rushed him through for observation and treatment. I told the nurse, on the desk, about the previous day, stating he could’ve had an allergic reaction to a flower he’d smelt. She passed the information on to the attending doctor, who started him on a course of antihistamines.
There isn’t much worse than sitting in an accident and emergency waiting room watching the sick, the drugged, and the drunk. I stuck it for a couple of hours until the nurse called me over and said I could visit my friend. Her tone of voice indicated she thought we were more than friends. In the small cubicle, Mark finally stopped sneezing, and a heavy bleach and disinfectant smell hung in the air. He must have made them earn their pittance today.
I apologised. He said I couldn’t have known. I should’ve been more careful. “No problem,” he said, and it would get him a few days off work. The doctor was signing him off for a couple of weeks. He told me he’d have to stay in overnight, so they can measure his progress, but should be out by tomorrow evening, as he handed over his house keys.
So here, I sit, looking out at the damned plant; my hands still damp with the diluted bleach I used to remove the “slaughter house” look from Marks house, though I don’t think I’ve succeeded well enough. I want to rip it free of the ground and watch it die for the pain it’s caused, but in my heart, I know I cannot. Besides, in the night it grew an extra ten centimetres and laid down new roots: Just like a blackberry bush, its roots form where the stem touches soil.
Looking at my E-mails has filled me with a quiet dread. This specimen is not the first. Over the last three weeks, there have been hundreds of sightings and reports of this strange new plant. Have I been so out-of-the-loop that I’ve missed the news. The reason for my dread is simple logic; for every reported sighting there are hundreds that aren’t – where people don’t know what they’re looking are – or, worst of all, are not bothered. There could be thousands, even millions, of these crawlers on our planet.
I have to say my excitement, at this find, has waned. After the disturbing attack on Mark, I find I’m weary about being so close to the plant. The antihistamines the doctors gave him worked so it has to be hay-fever based, though I try to persuade myself he was allergic to something else, in the hopes to quell my reluctance to study the crawler.
I finally worked up the nerve to wander outside to the plant and I now know the reason for the fur on the underside of the flowers. There are over ten dead slugs at the base of the crawler; each one is twisted inside out, in a vile slimy heap of sticky flesh. I conclude that each of the hairs are hollow and exclude a saccharine solution, which when it comes into contact with the slugs, has the devastating effect. I will say this for the crawler; it’s built to survive.
There is nothing new to report except its grown again in the night. This time it’s split into three stems. At this rate, it should fill the garden in less than a month. But, at what cost? How will it react with the other plants? This is something only time will tell. Will it work in harmony with other life or will it strangle and smother it?
After picking up Mark from the hospital, we went for a meal at a local Chinese. The food was great and the time away from Crawler duty was sweet. We chatted and caught up on old times, and I have to say that I am embarrassed. I once thought he had a crush on Madge. Boy, could I have been more wrong? I’ve just found out he’s gay; and he’s quite a good man. Now I’m sorry I stopped Marge coming to visit – ain’t it sad what jealousy can do. I found out he’s quite the artist, all of the pictures in the house are his own works. They are quite superb; I noticed them as soon as I walked through the front door. Mostly he does flowers, in what I take to be a Victorian style. He draws them from the stem up to the flower. He draws one in bud, one closed and one open. In the corner, he does what he calls “The Full Frontal” – this shows a fully opened flower head as you’d look straight at it. I did comment, when I turned up to the house, I thought the artist was a truly talented person. Even seeing the initials in the bottom corner, I didn’t twig on, I was in the house of the artist. There are a few portraits around the house too. He told me he has one I’ll like. After Marge’s death he’d looked through some of his photo’s and put pen and ink to paper. He’d intended to send it out to me but wasn’t sure how I felt about his and Marge’s relationship – what a sad stupid man I’ve been. When we got back, he disappeared into his bedroom and emerged with the portrait – I shed quite a few tears and he comforted me. After I recovered, he pulled out a sketchpad from the desk draw in the living room. On the top sheet was a clear representation of Warren’s Crawler. I laughed gently and told him he’d have to revise the sketch, as there was quite a bit more growth now.
We drank for a while and discussed Marge and old loves. I find my heart warms to this intelligent, warm, and caring man – to steal a song title – If I Could Turn Back Time.
Around quarter of ten, I put Mark to bed; he was feeling tired and a little weak. This, the nurse told me, is to be expected with the kind of blood loss he’s suffered.
Besides the continual growth, another twelve centimetres today on each stem, I have recorded a mass influx of insects, especially bees and ladybirds, crawling over its dense foliage and petals. This worries me slightly as the bees are flying away carrying its pollen and nectar. As of yet, I can only speculate to the detrimental effects this could cause. As I have seen the pollen is very strong, as for its nectar, tests will have to be carried out.
Mark stumbled out of bed around midday, looking a little better. Though he said he felt a bit stiff, this he blamed on his bed and his oversleeping. I set up a deck chair on the patio for him, and brought out his breakfast-cum-lunch and his daily paper. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the most of the summers day as the pesky bees wouldn’t let him be . Strange, because I was sat next to him and then never once flew next to me. I spotted a couple crawling slowly over his hands and legs. He slapped at them and they flew over to the Crawler, unfazed. The rest of the day passed quietly. I finally managed to measure the plant in the evening after the mass of bees headed back home for the night. It has grown six centimetres on one stem and eight on the other. It has also rooted again. I think it may be worth making a couple of cuts and pulling on of the rooted joints free. I can then study the plant indoors and carry out a few more tests, when I get back home.
I did hear something interesting from one of the neighbour’s gardens this evening. There was a surprised yell, around six thirty, followed by a woman’s concerned voice, “Malcolm, are you okay baby?”
To which the reply was, “Yeah, love, I’ll survive. But this fuckin’ new plant you’ve put in bit me.”
“I haven’t planted anything, dear. In fact, I haven’t been out in the garden all week.”
“Well, it must’ve seeded itself. Sure looks pretty though. Just be careful if you look at it though, it’s got a hell’o’va’ lot of thorns.” His little warning was punctuated by an explosive sneeze.
I’ve just taken a mug of coffee into Mark. He likes one before bed. He went to bed early, with an allusion to the stiffness returning and his stomach feeling strange, kinda hard. As I handed the mug over, I did notice a sweet perfume smell emanating from his body. I asked if it was new cologne he was wearing. He shook his head in reply.
I now have a cold feeling in the pit of my own stomach, though I know the name of my feeling – dread.
Over the night, the Crawler, of course, has grown again. Twenty-eight centimetres on each stem. In addition, there is now a third stem, with two flowers open on it. I took the advantage of an early morning to cut free, very carefully, a section of the plant. It exuded a clear sticky sap from the cut. When my fingers stuck together, I cursed at not using gloves. How could I have been so careless, knowing what I know about the plant – and especially when I think there is something dangerous about it too. I planted it in damp compost and stood it, fully immersed, in a bowl of water for a half hour so the roots would seek out the nutrients from the soil. That was over five hours ago and the cutting look strongly. The flowers are still open and show no signs of stress at being moved. Outside, the crawler‘s covered in a sea of gold and black. I can hear a heavy thrum coming from various gardens in the neighbourhood and the dread runs through my veins, and freezes me on this hot summer’s day. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of bees outside, in the gardens, to make such a cacophony. I think I’ll stay inside for the rest of the day.
God, I forgot about Mark, I can’t believe I did that. After all, this is his house, he’s suffered for me, and that damned plant. I stuck my head around the door to his bedroom. He didn’t seem to have moved much since this morning. The covers were pulled up to his chin and looked as if he’d been “laid out”. If it weren’t for his rising and falling chest, and the ruddy complexion on his face, I would’ve sworn him dead. Well, at least that’s one good sign, his cheeks are as red as I remember them, and the blood must be circulating and replenishing itself well. He looked so peaceful I’ll let him sleep until dinner. Hopefully, he’ll call me before then.
No sound from Mark; though I’ve popped in a couple of times, he hasn’t stirred from his sleep. The dinner on the way home last night must’ve tired him more than either of us thought. I’ll wake him up when I’ve finished cooking the spaghetti bolognaise. I must be getting old, my joints feel so stiff, it’s taking more effort to move them. Must be all the excitement and running out – not recommended for OAP’s .
What do I do?
What do I do?
I can’t wake Mark up, but that ain’t the worst of it. As I shook him I could feel something, not quite right with his body, beneath my fingers. Under the light duvet and inside his pyjama’s it felt as though his arm were covered with large spots. I feared the worst – a side effect of the Crawlers pollen. I was right – I hate being right. As I pulled down the duvet, no longer bothered about waking my new friend, I could see the shapes, plainly dinting the cotton material of his pyjama top. There was no need to pull his sleeve up though, as the lumps were also on his hand. Except, they weren’t bumps. They were thorns.
I ran from the room.
What do I do?
The scientific part of me pulled me back to his bedside for further inspection. God, if you exist, please forgive me for not calling an ambulance. But, what good would they do, really? They would only study him. Possibly fly in some “Specialists” – do they even have specialists for this kind of thing? They may even try to remove the thorns and I believe it would be the worst action of all. The thorns seem to be made of bone; I think they’ve grown from the skeleton; and each is approximately an inch long finishing in a deadly spike. It could be the reason he’s been unable to move, God knows what damage has been done inside his body; what’s been severed by their growth. Another reason could be the thorns on his back have penetrated the mattress restricting his movement.
I’ve cut both sleeves from cuffs to shoulders, very carefully, so as not to touch any of the thorns – I don’t want to risk any surprises they may hold. And, I’ve learnt another thing, The base of the thorns seem to be made from a bark substance. I believe Mark’s molecular structure is altering. I don’t know how, but to my eyes, I think the bone and marrow are becoming bark and sap. I’ve moved a chair and a small table, to hold my laptop, into his bedroom so I can keep a close eye on him. The alarm on the computer has been set to sound every hour so I can take notes on his progress. I think I’ll just rest my eyes for a few minutes; I feel so run down and tired.
Fuck, I fell asleep and now I’ve awoken into a new nightmare.
How long have I been out? I can’t rightly say but the changes that have occurred in this room alone indicate I’ve been asleep too long. I’m finding it hard to move my limbs, the pain is excruciating every time I move. This story is too important to let pain stop it though. I have a few thorns starting to tear through my flesh. To my amazement there is no blood running from the wounds, instead there is the sap like substance I noticed when I took a clipping of the crawler. My hands have turned a grey brown colour and it I look closely I can see a new texture forming on my tightening skin. My fingers are fast resembling twigs and my nails are splintering as I type this message and warning. I’m down to just one finger typing again.
As I look towards the bed, I can see my future. The shape of the once generous man is still there but the basic outline is all. It’s as if a skilled sculptor has honed out the shape of a person, while still leaving the trees original texture intact. It is a scary sight indeed. Where I pulled down the covers, there are a myriad of beautiful blooms and these are startling in colour. I can see reds, yellows, purples, and blues. The scent is truly amazing too, and hangs heavy in the room. There is the underlying scent of lemon and mint but above that, I can detect a sickly sweet smell, like honey, and a deep dank smell, similar to rotting flesh. There are new shoots growing out everywhere. Mainly they come from his fingers. Looking at the foot of the bed, they are shooting from his toes also.
Marks chest is still raising and falling. Is he still alive in there, somehow?
How can he be breathing? His mouth is open; though it’s definitely not for breathing purposes: It would be an impossibility to breathe through it, as a mass of growth is protruding from the opening like some naturistic vomit. His nostrils are so transformed, they are closed. Which leads me to the conclusion - he’s breathing as a plant would, through his leaves and flowers.
And there I was, just starting to pray my death would be as quick as his. His loss of blood must have put him in the fugue state. I have no such luck and I think I’ll be conscious for most of the transformation.
His eyes are closed. Would he still be able to see if they weren’t? Has he still got conscious thought? Does he feel the pain?
Something’s happening to my foot. Something is trying to break free. Another thorn? Or a shoot on the quest for earth and food?
I can here a strange scrapping sound, coming from the living room area. What can it be?
I’m finding it hard to think and it’s getting more difficult to move. All I have are questions without answers, and a beautiful vivid pink and blue flower that’s just erupted from the top of my foot.
Got to send this out by E-mail to all my colleagues and friends, warn them in the hopes they cans stop this immediate danger to humanity’s survival. It will be too late for us if you decide to come for us but at least you can use us for study. Remember to take every safety precaution, we are deadly. The address is 38 Wyndham Close, Midwich.
Glass cracking! Oh no, the patio door! The Crawler has reached the patio door. The noise is explosive the entire pane must’ve gone. I pray it brings help.
No body has come to check on the noise – why? It’s been some time the sun has risen over the horizon. It looks to be the makings of a beautiful day. All of our blooms are dancing with anticipation. There is a strange exhilaration coursing through me, and the searing pain has lessened.
At last, the silence is broken. I can hear screaming. Lots of screaming. Underneath that, a steady, rising, buzz seems to vibrate the very air.
The bees! The millions-upon-millions of bees! Their getting so close now, I can sense them. Have to send this out now. Oh God, they’re swarming over the window. There’s so many they’ve blocked out the sun. The glass should keep the ou…
The patio! Got a connection to the net, have to send the E-mail. They’re he…