Night Of The Living Plants-The Arrival

 

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Night Of The Living Plants by Kristine Quick(copyright)

All reports confirm that the world is witnessing an unprecedented shower of meteorites. There is no record of a display such as this in recorded history. At observatories astronomers are noting this fantastic phenomenon, and are carefully calculating the effect on our solar system. The consensus of option is that the meteorites burn up from the intense heat before they reach the Earth.
Day Of The Triffids

Since before recorded time, it had swung through the universe in an elliptical orbit so large that its very existence remained a secret of time and space; but now in the last few years of the 20th century, the visitor was returning. The citizens of earth would get an extra Christmas present this year as their planet orbited through the tail of the comet. Scientists predicted a light show of stellar proportions, something not seen on earth for 65 million years, indeed not since the time that the dinosaurs disappeared, virtually overnight.
Night Of The Comet

 

~THE ARRIVAL~

7pm, ISS, over France

Comet TC145 was an astounding sight of cosmic glory. The newly discovered behemoth(data confirmed it to be far larger than most comets in the Milky Way galaxy) was traveling towards Earth at 20 miles per second, and its tail would sweep over the entire planet. Be it, day or night, the citizens of Earth would be witness to a light-show unlike anything ever seen or even imagined! If there was an indeed a heaven, then outer space was it.

But it was chilling as well; the vast emptiness that opened before Trevor Seagrove proved it. A comet, heretofore unknown to the greatest scientific minds, was rapidly approaching Earth; pretty light shows aside, what else did it have in store for the human race?

Space stretched in every direction, a vast sea of black, speckled with distant stars of many colors that displayed various stages of star-life. Beyond that was interstellar space, and besides the obvious, who could truly know or comprehend what lie in that cosmic infinity, or what might come out of it?

 

“Looking good, much, much better, Trevor. Despite
the problems you’ve had I’m sure NASA will be glad
to send you back up again,” his fellow astronaut, Lindsey, said with a nervous smile.
He hovered in front of the space station window,
now gazing at the Earth, then turned to Lindsey.
“Well, it was worth it. I hated the trip up, the first day
sucked ass… and you had to put up with it… I
had no idea I could get that sick,” he giggled,
embarrassed by it all. “I’m sorry… but it was worth it… just for this.” he
tapped the window.
“The view, it’s amazing… scary, too!”
“You can get it under control. Just remember the
relaxation techniques I taught you. You’ll be fine.”

He pushed himself away from the window, making his way to the shuttle.
“Right. Count to three, deep breathing… Lindsey, I’m sorry I
couldn’t be of more use here. I had no idea… “
“Stop worrying about it Trevor. Besides it’s almost
over.”

It was Trevor’s first space mission, and while a young, brash astronaut with two feet on terra firma, once the g-forces of the shuttle kicked in, he cried like a girl. He begged and pleaded to get off.
It only got worse after that.
Now their space mission was almost over, and Courtney Donaldson, the
shuttle commander floated back into the room.

“Front and Center, you fine FINE astronauts… even
you, Trevor! Pilot Frank is strapped in and ready to go! YOU be ready to depart in 5 minutes! The
comet flyby should wrap up before we reenter the
atmosphere. The boys in ISS will take care of the
rest.”He looked at Lindsey and Trevor and smiled impishly.
“You two ladies come with me!”

Courtney, usually called Cort, maneuvered his way from the flight deck to mid-deck as Trevor
strapped in Lindsey, before gliding over to his chair. He got the
helmets and handed one to Lindsey. “You ladies ready yet?”
Trevor put his head back, glaring at Cort, who promptly floated back
up to the flight deck.
“Idiot!” Trevor hissed.
“He’s trying to make a man out of you.” Lindsey admonished as she pulled her belt into place.
“He-llo! I am a man… I got the dick to prove it!”
He giggled at his petulance.
“Lindsey… I’m sorry… you aren’t a person I want to alienate.”
She straightened up, sticking her chest out as far as she could. “No harm and no foul… cutie!”
He looked at her. He swallowed hard and loudly and his ears got hot. Slipping on his helmet, he faced the front. Now it was Lindsey’s turn to
laugh.
Cort came back again, to make sure they were strapped in securely.
“Hey… that’s too tight.” Trevor complained.
“Quit being such a nancy!”
“I said it’s too tight!”
“Knock it off, Seagrove! All I been hearin’ for six weeks is how your butt’s too big, it aint, so quit complaining.”
“What?! I never said that!”
Lindsey grinned. “I like his butt.”
Trevor closed his eyes. Corts insult and Lindsey’s flirting made his ears even hotter now.

“When we land, cos I’m kicking your ass.” Trevor raged.

That only made Cort laugh hard. He buckled himself in.
“Like ta see you try. Ok… closing cargo bay doors… “

***

Meanwhile at WKRO-Nashville, Tennesee

“What an exciting time! With less than one hour to go, parts of Western Europe have been in a a complete black-out concerning news and updates on the arrival of Comet TC145, nicknamed Quickseed by the boys in the lab. We do know that Western Europe has passed through the Comet’s tail, but the intensity and alleged radiation levels is unknown at this time.
As of right now at 8pm GMT no incoming aircraft or ground transportation has arrived from any of the affected areas. Dr. Vytslav Yurin of the Bauman Institute of Technology in Moscow as well as Drs. Tayana Vorokov and Stanaslav Savanov of the prestigious Higher Institute for Physical Studies have postulated that an electromagnet pulse associated with the comet’s passing may have been capable of paralyzing the area, possibly causing a complete gridlock in their entire telecommunication grid. A multitude of flashing colors was spotted on the approach to California, and is expected to reach the Rocky Mountains in just under 90 minutes. Stay tuned for the next update in 15 minutes… ”

***

“We’ll die, we’ll die, we’ll die!” Trevor the scared astronaut moaned lightly.

It was the understatement of the century to say Atlantis II was experiencing a rough reentry. The comet was moving in faster than anticipated, and the shuttle bucked wildly, and jerked back and forth.
“Shut your mouth, you nancy! I’m tryin’ to land the effin shuttle!” Courtney screamed back.

“Trying, sir!” Trevor roared back. His body trembled from the horrifyingly rough reentry.

Behind the shuttle, a wave of ethereal multi-colored light was in seeming pursuit, and the roar of the comet above even overwhelmed the sounds
of the shuttle itself.

Cort Donaldson clutched the headset, pressing it to his ears in an attempt to shut out all outside noises.
“Problem… mayday, mayday! We have a problem! Houston, come in! Holy fuck we lost contact!”
“Now who’s freaking out,” Trevor mumbled, the heavy vibrating of the shuttle altering his voice and making him laugh, albeit feebly.

“Will you all please keep me updated!?” Lindsey cried out. “Oh, my God, I really don’t feel so good!”

“Try channel 3!” Trevor called out. “What about Frank!?”

Cort listened harder to the silence from Huntsville.
The stunning silence.
He shook his head.
“We ARE in blackout.” his voice reverberated.

Trevor turned his head slowly. “It’ll be ok, Lindsey,” he promised.
“I don’t want to die like this, Trevor.”
“We won’t,” he said, reaching out for her hand, which was covered in thick sweat.

When the shuttle had become its gut-wrenching dive, he gripped her sweating hand. She was crying loudly and he could hear her
above the shrieking alarm, and then the warning lights went on and the
cockpit trembled and shook. All he did was squeeze her hand tighter,
futily trying to soothe her.
Then there was the impact, accompanied by the loud crash and long torturous scrape, then everything coming to a
complete stop in a fraction of a second.

***

“Turn the light back on!” he ordered no one. “Help! The light went off!”

“Fire! Fire! Hold it together, Nancy!” Cort yelled, staggering and stumbling from his seat.

“Commander Donaldson!” Trevor yelled out in the most official voice he could muster.

“What’s going on, Seagrove! Talk to me!”

Trevor squeezed his eyes shut.
“Mission Specialist Lindsey… just… melted… “

***

~8a.m.Miami. Florida~
“I think something was wrong with the comet. The greenhouse, it’s glowing… green,” Taryn said, before leaving on her ‘rescue mission’
“I can’t get any tv stations. No phone either, just whining noise on it… “
“Is there anyone else around? Call your friend… Albert? Maybe he knows something we don’t.”
“Albert is not smart enough to be in the same room with me!”
Taryn paused, patted her father’s hand. “There was a shuttle crash near the 7-11. I’m gonna go see what’s up and Alice will take care of you,” she intoned.

“Hurry back! Alice told her.
She looked over at her father, as he slept in his bed. He was sweating profusely, but did not have a fever.

“I have a headache,” he told his daughters and then he went to bed. She was alone in the house, her younger sister, Taryn having gone off to investigate the apparent crash of the Space Shuttle not more than ten blocks away. This gave her a little time and she reminisced on how she came to this particular point in her life.

Alice attended a comet-party at a neighbors house that night. A few other friends were there. The suds were flowing, the radio was on real loud, and everyone was having a great time.

But soon Taryn skipped on by, happy to show off her intelligence whenever she could. She made it a point to track down Alice and give her a lecture on studying harder in school, and their father would be informed for her recent poor study habits.

“Oh, NOT cool Taryn. Not cool!” Alice turned to her neighbor’s young son Jake what do we do?”

“We?” the 20 year old laughed “ok, I got an idea; let’s lock her in the storage shed and that
way she can’t watch the comet go by.”

Alice tilted her head, put her hand on her hip and pondered for a moment.
“Nooo… almost too cold… how about all night in the greenhouse?”

“HEY! I’M TELLING!” Taryn retorted.

After the fateful choice was made, Alice slipped out and stepped back
over to her house. She did have a 24-oz Bud and was feeling unstressed
enough she decided to forget about school and studies, and celebrate the comet with loud music and playing pool in the basement.

When the dull, roaring noise from outside passed, Alice turned down the
stereo and left the basement.
It had gotten so quiet so suddenly, and no one was around. Clothing was strewn about from what appeared to be a skinny-dipping session.
Walking back to her house, she looked around. The waves lapped the
beach in a methodical rhythm, the sea breeze was warm, and dust clouds
swirled around a smoldering campfire.

“World could do with some more quiet… nothing but the sound of rustling leaves!” Alice decided as she jogged past the storage shed. The door was broken outwards, but
Alice didn’t see that. She continued on to the house and went to the
kitchen.

“Daddy?” She found him sitting at the kitchen table and he was rubbing his head.
“Oh, my God, that was intense! I had to come inside, watch it through the blinds, even then, I had to to wear my sunglasses; it was as bright as day for 10 minutes!”

The tall, heavyset botanist and father of Alice and Taryn, flipped the scrambled eggs and turned away from the stove. Alice was shocked at his appearance; he looked much older today, his face was covered in a thin film of sweat and his eyes were red.
“Are you ok?!” she demanded.
He grimaced slightly.

“Daddy she locked me in the storage shed!” Taryn howled, running down the stairs.

Dad looked angry, and pointed frantically at his head. He turned to Alice.
“Testing the Cobra Lilies in low-light and isolation… new experiment, and they’re doing great. Locked the greenhouse tight. Honey, you know they’re very valuable and I don’t want them stolen,” he looked up proudly, his suffering evident in his eyes “especially not your Rowan! I’m so proud of you Alice! Seven years tending to your Cobra Lily and it’s still thriving! No, we can’t risk any crooks making off with Rowan, of all things!”

“Well… you have to have some love for plants to live in Florida, daddy. Florida is just… one big plant… this is where plants go when they die… My plant’s ok, it’s all ready for the gardening competition tomorrow,” she told him with assurance “uh, maybe you need to lie down, you don’t look good.”

Taryn threw up her hands.”Rowan! Who names their plants, especially when it’s not even a Rowan tree!” Taryn griped “hey, yo! The comet was NOT normal! People were screaming everywhere! I got no clue what happened out here during the night. Someone screamed about their eyes… I guess they went blind? Alice you didn’t hear the crowd screaming? It sounded like they were in pain!” Taryn insisted.

“The Flytraps, we can start a test now, and I’d like you to oversee it.”
Dad began coughing, and took a swig of coffee.

“Going upstairs honey… don’t feel well.”
“Can I get you anything?”
“Aspirin!”
“Ok, daddy.”

***

“Are you awake, daddy?” Alice whispered, leaning over him.

“My GAWD I found the shuttle in bits and pieces everywhere on Jate Street! Two survivors, attempting rescue now!” Taryn’s voice screeched over the radio.
“Voices down!” Alice ordered angrily.

“Whasa? Alice? I feel awful!” Dad moaned.
“Taryn’s just being a brat,” Alice said, moving to the window.

Alice looked out the window towards the greenhouse, Inside were the displays of exotic plants. Her father was a botanist, taught at the university, and sold rare carnivorous plants.
Alice saw the greenhouse was glowing like Taryn had said. It gave her a very ominous chill.

“Worst headache ever had,” Dad mumbled from the bed.

He was awake now, staring into
space, his entire body covered in a running sweat.

Alice moved over to him and felt his
slimy forehead, and was surprised he was not burning up, with all that
sweat.

It’s not that bad… he can’t be that sick…

“Just a baaaad headache honey. Go get the aspirin.”
“Kay,” Alice replied, in a whimpering voice and stepping away from the bed. His condition was getting worse every few minutes and she was going to have to make a choice soon.
Get back here!” Alice whispered into the two-way radio. She brushed her now greasy
hands on her pants. The sweat was unusually thick, and she was becoming more revolted by the second.

“There’s two, like I said” Taryn’s voice came back in a quieter voice. “Courtney Donaldson and Trevor Seagrove! They said they’re were more but… well I’ll just let them tell you what happened, mmmkay?!”

Alice wiped at her father’s head, with a soft towel then shrieked as a globby mess
pulled away, clinging to the towel.
“Ew! Ew!” she gasped, dropping the towel
to the floor.
“I’m… feeling a little better,” Dad tried.
“Taking you to the hospital,” Alice answered back.
He held out a wet, dripping hand. “Let’s go!”

We’re two blocks away!” came Taryn’s voice. Alice threw the radio across the room.

“Get the… the keys… Alice!!”

Dad was sitting up now, or trying too; he seemed to be having a hard time remaining upright, and was trembling to such an extent he almost looked like shaking jello.
“Wait!” She put her arms under his arms and began to pull him up. “I got you, dad!”
“Gotta get seedlings in trunk… ” his head rolled back, and a revolting slurping, bubbling noise resonated from his throat.

“Get up!” she begged, pulling harder.

He slipped forward, his weight knocking her back and he landed on top of her and exploded.

Alice’s eyes were wide with fright and she remained frozen in terror at what had just happened, right on top of her.

This can’t be happening!!”
Daddy popped open like a ripe fruit slammed onto a hard surface. She was drenched in multi-colored fluid; it
was warm, slimy, and the stench was that of
human sweat.
“Nonono!” and Alice began to sob.

***

“Alice, I’m back! I found them! Rah! Hey, the shuttle crashed on 10th Street, took out the whole block! Alice? How’s daddy?!”

Trevor entered after her looking around carefully. “Nice place,” he said. Courtney Donaldson came in last looking around as Trevor had but not nearly as satisfied, in fact, he looked worried.

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my Goood!” Alice screamed out from upstairs.

Taryn thumbed to the stairs, smiling smugly. “My sister is a bit of a drama queen,” Taryn explained.

“Yeah.” Courtney moved about the room slowly. “You have a ham radio right? We need to get contact with the Cape immediately.”
“Let’s go back to the 7-Eleven, maybe the store owner returned,” Trevor said in a disgusted tone.
They had indeed went to a 7-Eleven, and many other places along the way, looking for anyone. In the ten blocks from where the shuttle crashed, to the Williams home, no one could be found. The only thing that spoke of people was various items of clothing and personal apparel scattered in the streets.

Shit!” Alice staggered and stumbled as she came into view at the top of the stairs, eventually falling down them in a crumpled sobbing heap. She looked stunned and shell-shocked.
“What happened?!” Taryn demanded.

Alice tried to curl up, began to brush the globs away from her clothing and out of her hair. “New clothes. Shower. I need… “
Taryn looked at her for just another moment before rushing up the stairs.
Trevor looked at Courtney. “Lindsey!” he realized he turned back to the stairs “Taryn wait! Don’t go up there yet!”

Court threw up his hands. “Hey, you said something about a radio, little girl… Taryn? Trevor what are you doing?”

“I am so sorry, Trevor whispered quietly and put a hand on Alice’s shoulder but she turned away quickly. Loose globs that were once a human being splattered the railing as she did so “I… have to wash this off!” she gasped, momentarily trapped in the trauma of what had just happened.

 

“What the hell… what the hell is this jello-shit?!” Taryn howled from upstairs.

 

Trevor was overcome with sadness.
“Alice… I’m sorry for your loss… “

LATE MORNING
“Bacon? Eggs? What do you want?”

Alice just stood at the stove, looking down into the pan. After 3 showers, and striving for something that resembled normalcy, she was now making breakfast.
Taryn sat at the table, poking at an empty plate with her fork. Her emotions were overriding her sharp intellect, and she struggled to hold back the tears.

Courtney shrugged and looked at Trevor, Taryn and then Alice. “Whatever works,” he said.

“Do you want to come with us?” Trevor asked “back to cape Canaveral?”

Court kicked his chair very hard. “That is classified shit we have over there!”
Trevor raised his eyebrows in shock and dismay. “Forgive me for going against your authority, sir, but there’s nobody around. I mean nobody. Pile of clothes indicate there was somebody at one time, but that time it is now gone… they shouldn’t have to be alone, that’s all.”
Trevor looked at Alice. “You get a hold of your aunt in Wisconsin?”

She dropped a large plate of under-cooked eggs and sausages on the table and shook her head, the reality of the situation was becoming overwhelming.
Cort grimaced at the watery eggs and the pink(not brown)sausages. “Looks delicious,” he tried.
“I’ll fix it,” she sobbed reaching for the plate. Trevor got up and moved over to her. Being closer to her he could see that she was trembling now.
“Try for some professionalism,” Court warned. Trevor shot him a glance of disapproval.

“It stopped!” Taryn said, now on her feet and looking out the window towards the greenhouse. She went to her sister and poked her in the side. “It’s not glowing anymore.”
“What? she asked with a dumb look on her face. Then she looked outside, and then she was rushing out the back door.
“Come on!” Taryn ordered the two astronauts “Alice wait! Waaaait!”

“What color?!” Trevor yelled after her. Cort was scooping his runny eggs into a spoon. “Better than what I had in the army!” he sighed.
“It was glowing in Nebraska! The ground, the… “
“Try some, moron!”
“The fields were glowing, and never call me that again!”

 

“Oh man that place was glowing,” Taryn said, waving her hands in the air and pointing to the greenhouse.
“I know,” Alice replied.
Taryn crossed her arms over her chest. “Comet was weird, I said! But who listened, I asked? No one!”
“Not now!” Alice ordered, putting a firm hand on her shoulder. She turned her sister then turn back to the greenhouse.
“Need a minute,” she said in a quiet voice, choked with tears, then she unlocked the door with her key and went inside and closed the door behind her.

Cort came out followed by Trevor. “Taryn, your radios cannot reach Cape Canaveral. How about you give us some directions to the radio shack, and we’ll be on our way.”
We’re not just going to leave them, Trevor said. Do what you want I won’t leave them alone!”

Help!” came Alice’s voice from the greenhouse

Court turn back to his fellow astronaut. “Look here, buddy! We’re the last survivors of the shuttle mission, and our mission is not complete until we report back to Cape Canaveral or Huntsville!” It was clear to anybody in close t proximity that Courtney Donaldson was furious.

Oh what the fuuuuuck!”

Taryn noticed now, and moved closer to the greenhouse. There was the sound of things breaking and her sister shrieking.
Maybe she was just venting her grief. Yes, that was probably it.
“We have a mission to complete. The Job’s not done until we report back to base!” Cort yelled.
“Civilian lives, sir!” Trevor shouted back.

Get em off meeeee!
The wall crashed outward, sending glass everywhere. Alice crashed out next, her body contorted, bent over, her staggering feet kept her upright, but she was lurching wildly.

Oh, fucking shit!” Taryn gasped. She now saw her sister was covered head to toe in Venus Flytraps. “YOU GUYS HELP!”

GETEMOFFMEPEEESE!” Alice cried out as she finally fell to the ground and squashing half of them. The three rushed in, crowding around her as she screamed loudly, and plucked off the remaining Flytraps, one by one.

To Be Continued.

 

This entry was posted in FICTION.

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