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Botanical

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: BoMoWriCha Prompts


Written for the BoMoWriCha House Flowers prompt.

Submitted: August 30, 2018

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Submitted: August 30, 2018

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Botanical

There are so many parts of the world that have yet to be explored; so many places that have never been seen by human eyes. Remote places, those far from areas where people have built their homes. Some are jungles, hard and perilous to get through. Who knows what might be living in these places? Snakes, as yet unidentified; spiders, scorpions, insects with lethal stings? And what about in the water? Giant blood-sucking leeches or maybe some kind of crocodile that would put the largest so far seen to shame.

There are other places than jungles, though. Many areas of desert have yet to be walked on, and there are vast expanses of forestry, of plains. Hard to believe, in this day and age, with urban over-crowding, property being put out of so many peoples reach. In general though, humans seem to stick together, and it is only because of this fact that so many such undiscovered spots still exist.

Malcolm Curtis was a botanist, quite famous among those with similar interests. Unfortunately it was not easy to campaign for funding when you wanted to look for....what? To be honest, he had no idea of the ‘where’ either, just knew that he wanted to go exploring somewhere that had never before been seen.

It was nothing more than a dream until Malcolm unexpectedly came into some money. Not millions but enough to take himself and three of his students off exploring.

It wasn’t hard to choose who to invite along. The most enthusiastic, were the obvious candidates. Vince, Laura and Harry all said yes, even though they had no idea quite where they would be heading. Time was in short supply so they could not go too far; anywhere too exotic had travel problems, immunisation problems, and many, many more. They had to find somewhere that was not too far.

Hours and hours of studying maps, of internet searches, and finally they came up with a location that there simply seemed to be no record of. Even better, they did not even have to travel to a different country but just head west. With the exact co-ordinates either side they eventually found themselves standing beside a place that did not seem to exist.

Yet there it was. Just one step further and they would be in what was uncharted territory. It made no sense though. Why would no one have ever set foot on this ground. Okay, so it was remote; it had been several hours drive since they had last glimpsed a house but even so, would not someone have passed this way before now.

Harry looked at his scribbled notes. “Not a mention of this place, not until you get fifteen miles further west, and even then the details are few and far between.”

Double-check the co-ordinates, Laura.” Malcolm wanted to get going but he wanted to be sure it really was untrodden land that they were about to walk upon.

This is the place,” she assured him.

Okay, then. Are we all ready to explore the unknown?”

You bet,” three voices answered together.

It would be slow and painstaking progress. Before every single step was taken they would have to be sure nothing unusual was going to be squashed under-foot. There were some rare plant species around, and lots of familiar ones too. As yet there was no sign of that unique discovery – a plant never before seen by human eyes.

The further they got into the area, the more steps they took, the more frequent were the rarities spotted. Malcolm made sure that each and every one of the unusual plants was identified, quantified, and it’s exact location made note of. But as yet they had found nothing that had not been found before, and all four felt at least a tiny bit deflated.

On they went, further from the last recorded location, stepping a bit further in to vegetation; carefully moving aside leaves before doing so. And then Harry, who at the time was leading, stopped dead still. He waited until the three others stood beside him before pointing to some strange looking flowers in the distance.

Do you recognize them, any of you?” Malcolm didn’t, but he wanted to be sure the others didn’t either before allowing excitement to take over.

Two shakes of the head and one, “Look at the color of those leaves”, was all he needed to tell him they were on to something good.

There were not many of them and they seemed to be quite sparsely spread around. Carefully and very slowly, the group made their way nearer to the plant. It was not large, the flower or the leaf span. What was so unusual about it was the color of the leaves, the stem. Not a green of any usual shade, this was almost blue. The bloom itself was pink, the top of it closed in as though it were hiding something inside itself.

Any ideas?” Malcolm bent forward to get a better view.

No one was quite sure what happened next. Did it fire some kind of dart? Of sting? Or did it puff out a chemical that made it’s way into Malcolm’s blood-stream. He gasped as though hurt, but then the plant itself seemed to almost pulsate.

Malcolm suddenly swung round and grabbed Vince by the throat. Once he had a grip the pulsating of the plant grew in intensity and his grip strengthened. As Vince struggled to get away from Malcolm, Laura turned to help him. Harry had also been examining a plant and as he went to help, it too, released whatever chemical it contained, catching him with its full blast. This one, too, began to pulsate, and as though it was now controlling him, Harry lunged for Laura.

Vince was frantically struggling underneath Malcolm’s hands. The older man then bared his teeth, grinning like some demented vampiric clown. He moved his mouth closer to the veins that were now standing out on his victim’s neck.

It was Harry that saved him. He caught Laura with a side-swipe that knocked her off balance, stumbling backwards to tread on the first of the pulsating blooms. As her weight crushed the flower, Malcolm dropped to the ground taking Vince with him but at last loosening his grip.

Vince was stunned, still gasping for breath, but Malcolm seemed to be unconscious. Laura knew that on her own she was no match for Harry. He was tall, heavily built, while she was what was politely referred to as petite. She was quicker on her feet, more agile. If it was not just a fluke maybe she could win this battle. She just had to position herself between him and that bloom. If he understood what was happening she would have no chance, but she suspected that he had no idea that the flower now had him under its control.

Laura dodged sideways, making out that she was going to go one way, then she ducked down and sprang towards the opposite direction. It was too late when she saw the vine that caught her foot, that brought her heavily down on to her knees. It was pure luck that her left one landed on top of the plant and stopped its pulsating as it was squashed beneath the force of her fall.

Like Malcolm, Harry dropped to the ground, and Laura made her way cautiously towards Vince. She scanned every inch of the ground for a glimpse of one of those flowers but the rest of them seemed to be growing further away from where they were.

Are you okay?” she asked.

Yeah, I think so. Was it real? The plants taking control like that?” Vince rubbed at his neck while he asked.

I guess so. Harry was exactly the same. I think we should get away from here while there’s still enough light to see where we’re going.”

What about them?” Vince nodded towards the two unconscious men.

I don’t know. We can’t leave them here, can we? Perhaps, between us, we could carry them...”

Laura, look at the size of them. Do you really think we’re going to be able to move them?” Just as Vince shook his head, a moan broke the quiet.

Malcolm was beginning to come around and sat up, clearly confused. Vince could not help but flinch away from him and Laura kept her distance until she was quite convinced the man had regained control over himself. No sooner had they got him to his feet, then Harry began to moan too.

They needed to get out. Two murders had almost been committed under the influence of plants; if they carried on, who knew what other horrors they might discover. They would turn back, look no more.

Even though they had already walked the path, and the light was fading fast, they were still botanists and were careful what they stepped on. They had some serious decisions to make once they got back to safer grounds.

If someone should hear of these plants there was bound to be a demand for them, especially from the wrong kind of people. Look how they could be exploited, sending someone in to a murderous rage. Would it be better to keep the existence of these plants a secret? Reluctantly, but unanimously, the four agreed. There would be no mention of their expedition, of their discovery, to anyone.

Do you really think we were the first to come here?” Laura asked.

Malcolm shrugged. “I guess that, we’ll never really know. How many might have already experienced this before and decided to keep it quiet? Maybe the undiscovered places should stay that way after all.”

 

(1619 words).


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