Plugs

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Curiosity

by Jonathan Wood

“Les fleurs?” she says.  “Pour moi?”

To be honest, I can’t understand a word she’s saying.

I just hand her the flowers, give a quick nod and hold out the clipboard for her signature.  She says something else I can’t understand.  I watch her eyes, her brows furrowing, her purple painted nail tap her bottom lip.  More words.  I shrug at her.  I glance down at her naked feet, tapping on her green carpet.  I look up.  She’s holding out one hand, showing me the palm.  Wait.  I understand that.

She goes back into her apartment, but doesn’t close the door.  After a minute or so goes, I take a peek.

You would too.

Now, at this point I should point out that after two years of delivering flowers I know the smells pretty well.  I’m no expert, but I can tell a lilly from a rose.  I’m holding a bunch of daffodils at the moment.  But as I crane my head I smell flowers that aren’t just daffodils.  I smell a riot.  I smell a whole damn shop in there.  Hyacinths, hydrangeas, baby’s breath, roses, and, yeah, lillies too.

I push open the door a little.  I can’t help it, I know it’s not polite, but I push it open anyway.  You would too.  I swear.

And the green carpet, the one she worked at with her toes.  It’s not a carpet.  Grass stretches over the apartment.  Like a sheet draped over things.  It crawls up her walls.  And the flowers.  Everywhere flowers, blossoming blooming.  Huge things.  Like nothing I’ve ever seen in a hothouse, anywhere.  Massive, overwhelming things.  They clog the room.  Pollen hangs heavy in the air.

And at their bases…  At the roots.

There’s a smell beneath the flowers.  A stench of rot.

A rose curls out of a skull.  A vines creepers unfurl from the meat-strung rib-cage of some animal… a cat… a dog.  Broken wings.  Stray paws.  They are strewn through the foliage, their fluids, their nutrients, feeding this growth.

She  reappears, opening a door, flattening daisy’s as she does so, pushing aside a moldy cat’s skull.

“Les fleurs,” she says.  “Ce sont des varies, ne c’est pas?”

I drop my clipboard and run.  Leg it, right then and there.

You would too.

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