Rise of the Mutant Sunflowers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
My protagonist believes that sunflowers are an evil abomination, and is soon proved to be true.

Submitted: August 30, 2012

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Submitted: August 30, 2012

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Nobody believed me.

I'd been saying it for years.  There was something just not right about these things growing to be larger then people.  The flower and seeds were bigger then a human face.  A flower that could grow up to twenty feet.  How could I be the only person to see that wasn't right?

These were not from this planet.

Paranoia, I would hear.  A weird fetish.  Anthrophobia.  I didn't have a fear of flowers.  Just this one.

Sunflowers.

I remember as a child when I was four years old,  walking through a field of them in autumn with my mother and father, when we stopped to take a picture.  My six foot tall father hoisted me onto his broad shoulders. As my mother snapped the shot with her polaroid, I looked behind me and saw a flower lean down onto my head, ready to take a bite out of me.

I would swear up and down for the next thirty years that is what happened.  I could see the hunger in its flower face.  The petals licking my mop of unruly ginger hair, tangling it.  I screamed and wriggled, almost falling to the earth below, my dad struggling to maintain his grasp on me.

The proof was in that photo.  Clearly, you can see the wicked flower hunched over me, terror on my cherubic face.  Thinking I had been stung by one of the many bumblebees feeding off the flowers, my parents checked me over for welts as I kept crying, digging my size six keds into the soil, wanting desperately to run away.

"What happened?"  My mom asked, exasperated.

"Flower tried to eat me!"  I screamed.  My dad chuckled and picked me back up.

"You mean this flower?"  He teased by weaving me in and out toward my nemesis.

'Daddy, stop, not funny!"  I cried, pounding my tiny pink chubby fists on his chest.

"Eddie, stop teasing him!"  Scolded my mom.  "He doesn't like the flowers."

'What kind of kid is afraid of flowers?"  Said my dad in gruff tone as he lowered me back down to the ground.

"Flowers bad!"  I sobbed, wiping the warm salty mess all over my cheeks that was draining from my eyes and nose.   My mom crouched down with a tissue and gently started wiping my face.

"Sweetie, they're just big flowers.  They're not bad!"  She smiled, tilting her head to look up at them.  My eyes followed her gaze, up to the face of the giants.  I could swear they were scowling at me.  I looked back over at my mom, who was now wrinkling her freckled nose and squinting her eyes.  I know I saw fear through her heavily mascara'd lashes.  I buried my head into her ivory colored cashmere sweater, transferring my sticky mess on to her as I wiped my face back and forth.  I felt her loving arms wrap around me  as she lifted me up, burying her face into my neck, her hot breath comforting me.  I turned my head to look at my dad.  He just pushed his glasses up the bridge of his bulbous nose and shook his head.  "Well, they do look a bit scary, Eddie, when you see them from his view."  She added.

"Pssh."  My dad grumbled, turning as he waved one hand then hitched his thumbs through the metal fasteners on his torn and stained overalls.  "Come on, lets go take him to the pumpkin patch."

 

I grew up near this stretch of lonely country highway. Recently, I purchased a small farm with three acres.  It's really quaint, I have a garden of various herbs and vegetables,  a few chickens and a quarter horse.  Obviously, no sunflowers.  The siding on the home needs fixing, but it gives me something to do on the weekends.   Every August, in front of that particular old and wicked looking farmhouse, I see rows of those damn flowers. Their thick green stems  twisting and contorting up from the ground.  Rising from Hell.

Watching me as I drive by.

I would always feel a twinge of panic when I encountered them in the grocery store.  Then I would breath a sigh of relief knowing that they were slowly dying in that white plastic bucket.  Soon to be a pathetic wilted and dried up mess on someones kitchen table.  Family and friends took great joy in playing practical jokes on me.  Leaving a bunch of them on my front porch.  Making ridiculous ghostly sounds.  Calling me saying "These are the sunflowers.  We are coming to get you."  Everyone thought it was a silly thing to be frightened of.  Spiders they could understand, but sunflowers?  They found out the truth soon enough.  Some weren't so lucky.

 

The creepy looking farm was holding it's annual harvest celebration.  The periwinkle sky was clear, the sun out, but the crisp chill of fall was in the air. I parked my weathered white pick-up just across the road in a matted down field of mud and tall grass and stared at my rear view mirror.  The delicious aroma of hot apple cider and hot dogs invaded my nostrils through my cracked window,  taking me back to childhood.  I closed my eyes, shuddered and exhaled.  Grabbing a prescription bottle from the center console, I popped the top and slipped an anti-anxiety pill under my tongue.  Slowly, the pounding in my chest lessened, my breathing steadied.  The blood was returning to my knuckles, which had turned white from gripping the steering wheel so hard.  A bright yellow and red bounce house could be seen towards the rear of the property, bending and swaying from the kids jumping inside.  Squeals of delight permeated the air.Families had come out in droves every year for the celebration.  After seeing a couple crossing the street with their toddler in tow who was  skipping ecstatically, I decided it was time to come face to face with my fear.  

I kept my head down and my hands in my pockets as I hurried across the street.   A pair of dirty leather steel toed boots met my gaze, stopping me in my tracks.  I raised my head.

"Hello dad."  I said.

"Son."  He said curtly.  I sighed loudly and looked over to my right at the field of sunflowers.  My stomach did somersaults.

"I see you've added a few more rows of them."  I said,  taking my hands out of the pocket of my denim jacket and crossing my arms.  He cocked his head in acknowledgment, looked down at his boots, then back at me.

"Well, I know you don't like them for your reasons," he said in a slow drawl, "but since you stopped coming around after your mamma passed..."  he swatted at a bee buzzing around him.

"Yeah."  I said, scratching my neck.  He ran his tongue across his coffee stained teeth, then smacked his lips. I studied his face and couldn't believe how old my dad looked.  His  wiry black hair and Tom Selleck looking mustache was peppered with  grey.   Gravity was tugging at his jowls. His  complection was ruddy,  deep lines traversed across his forehead like a canal.   He had taken my moms death hard.   She  had passed four years ago this month in a freak accident after she slipped and fell, breaking her neck.  I would never come around to visit during the months the flowers were in bloom because of my anxiety.  Even though there was nothing I could have done to prevent her accident, I always felt my dad had somehow blamed me.  I shifted my eyes over to the towhead blonde little girl I saw earlier skipping with her parents.  She was happily dancing between the rows of flowers, twirling around in her pink sundress.  A felt a shiver run down my back.  My father cleared his throat.

"So, what brings you here today, son?"  He broke the uncomfortable silence.

"Therapy."  I muttered.

"Phsh."  He said, then turned to spit.  I nervously started chewing the inside of my cheek.  "You seeing a shrink, huh?"  He said, raising his brows, the corner of his mouth turned down.

"They're taller then I remember."  I said, changing the subject as I looked over at the rows and little girl.

"Well, they uh, they get hungry."  He chuckled, running a leathered and dusty hand across his mouth.

"Hungry?"

"Uh yeah, got a special fertilizer for them."  A beat, then he motioned his head towards them.  "Want to get a closer look?  Therapy and all that."

I turned my attention back to the little girl, the sun beginning to set just behind the field when  I saw it.  A sunflower abruptly lurching  towards her.  I dug my heels into the soil running towards the child, oblivious to the danger.  I could hear the heavy thunking of my fathers boots behind me.

"Junior, what the hell are you doing?"  He screamed, as I ran into the belly of the beast and grabbed the child, bringing her to safety.  

She was kicking and pounding her tiny fists into my face screaming "stranger, stranger, help!" When her parents rushed over.  Her horrified mother tore her out of my grasp.  Her father grabbed the collar of my jacket and  raised a balled fist to my face.

"What are you doing?"  She gasped.  The little girl threw her arms around her mothers neck, crying.

"Marylou, Bob let me apologize for my son."  He grumbled,   hands up in a defensive position as he backed up towards the flowers.  "He's going through a rough patch right now.  He meant no harm."  Angry dad let go of me.

"She was in danger, ma'am!"  I said hunching over, hands on my knees, huffing trying to catch my breath.

"Danger?  What is he talking about Eddie?"  

No sooner had those words escaped her lips when one of the giants leaned over my dad, striking.  Quickly, it wrapped itself around him, squeezing  like an anaconda.   

"Run.  NOW!"  I yelled at the horrified parents.  She just stood frozen, clinging to her child.  "Run!"  I screamed again.  The dad grabbed mom by her elbow and tugged hard.  It was then I could hear faint screams coming from inside the field.  "Oh my God, there are others!" I turned to my father, his face swollen and red from being strangled,  blood seeping from his nostrils.

"Dad!"  I cried.  He was thrashing and kicking wildly, reaching his hands out to me.   Frantically, I looked around for any tools, anything sharp to cut him free.

Nothing.

I grabbed his hands and tugged as hard as I could, but the strength of the flower was overpowering, knocking me to the ground.   Several people trampled over me in the chaos.  I looked up at dad, the color slowly leaving his body.   The sunflower was draining his blood.

"Fertilizer."  I whispered, clasping my hands on top of my head.   I thought I saw acknowledgement as he slowly blinked his eyes.  His lips were moving, trying to speak. 

It looked like he was saying "sorry."

 The sun had almost set as I scanned the silhouette of the field.   The sunflowers were wildly swaying, contorting.

Alive.

The screaming from within had stopped.  It was replaced by  an eerie, quiet calm.  Then they turned to look at me, hungry for more.  Hungry for my blood.  I swallowed the lump in my throat, and slowly rose to my feet.  There was only one way.

I had to burn the field.

I ran through the cornfield parallel to the sunflowers and came upon the house.  My dad used to keep plastic containers filled with gasoline for his tractor in a shed off to the left.  I hoped they were still there.  Running around the side, I spotted his John Deere, the shed and a filled container.  "Dammit, a lighter, I need a lighter!"  I said, turning to run up the front porch.  Hurrying to the kitchen, I rifled through the drawers and cupboards until I found one.  In the distance, I could hear the faint sound of sirens approaching. 

How was I going to do this?  I thought to myself.  The sunflowers encompassed at least two acres, and I wasn't about to run into them dousing gasoline.  The only shot I had was saturate the perimeter, light it up and pray it would engulf the entire field.

Gasoline and lighter in hand, I made my way back.  They watched.  The glowered.  Hell, the petals even licked their center, as if they couldn't wait to taste my blood.  Making sure I was a careful distance away, I began sprinting and emptying the contents of the plastic container.

Then I lit it up.

The flashing red and blue lights danced in the smoky haze, as a different type of high pitched scream now percolated in the air.  I walked over to one of the parked black and white units.  Two officers stood there staring at the inferno, mouths open wide.  Speechless, they turned to look at me as I approached them.

"Nobody ever believed me."  Is all I said.


© Copyright 2017 Tania Penn. All rights reserved.

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