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Monday, April 28, 2014

Invasive Species -- May 2014 Story of the Month

This month's Story of the Month is free. It is dedicated to gardeners everywhere.



Invasive Species
by Uke Jackson

A quilx consumes a whole lunjaba fruit and spits out thirty two seeds in rapid succession. At that moment a slight rip occurs in the fabric of existence and the seeds arc straight through it, one after the other. The quilx watches this. She scampers up to the spot where the seeds disappear but the tear is already closed.
Slight tears in the fabric of existence happen every decade or two. Something as potent as lunjaba seeds traversing dimensions through such rips? This happens every billion years or so, if that.
****
            Harvey is sitting on the lanai at his home in Tampa, Florida when seeds start dropping one after the other onto the tile floor. Harvey yelps in surprise as the seeds are popping into existence out of thin air. He jumps up and takes a couple strides and examines this phenomenon up close just as it ends.
            The last of the seeds come into sight out of nowhere a couple feet above eye level. Of course, nowhere for Harvey is a parallel dimension and home to an entire spectrum of life and existence about which he knows zilch. Harvey looks down at the floor and hops back as he sees the seeds scrambling to arrange themselves into a circle.
“What the fuck?” He looks at the half a joint left in the ashtray and shakes his head. “Man, that’s either the best shit I ever smoked or I’m losing my mind.”
He looks back down at the seeds. They are no longer moving and he decides to leave them be. But if he sees them move again he is definitely stomping on them. Harvey reminds himself that he has a gig and must get ready, much as he would like to stand there and observe the circle of seeds.
****
The gig goes well. Harvey has no hallucinations. He plays solid rhythm on his resonator ukulele. He is no more stoned than usual, it seems.
Harvey is part of a band that plays a mix of old New Orleans jazz tunes and novelty numbers from a cross section of musical genres – Tin Pan Alley, British Music Hall, Rock, Folk, Blue Grass, Texas Swing and so forth. The band is known as The Skiffle Bohemians.
He goes home after the gig and goes right to bed. His wife Helen, a school teacher, is already asleep. The next day is Saturday and it is almost noon before they get up. Harvey steps out onto the lanai while Helen makes pancakes and he remembers the seeds, which he hasn’t thought about since the music started last night. The seeds are gone when he looks to where they circled together on the tile.
“Whoa!” Harvey slides open the glass door and calls t his wife: “Helen, you have to come see this.”
There stands a plant of shimmering beauty. Its colors glisten and swirl and at times seem to have come from another spectrum, a rainbow of previously unknown and unseen colors. The plant is almost eight feet tall and one fruit the size and shape of a large mango hangs on it. There is a sheen to the fruit that flickers from color to color to color – blue to yellow to red to orange to purple to an unnamed color to green – without repeating a discernible pattern and constantly changing.
Harvey crosses and picks the fruit and takes a bite. He feels a surge of life enhancing energy. Another fruit grows to replace the one in Harvey’s hand. Helen comes out onto the lanai and gasps.
“Harvey, where did that plant come from? What is it? ”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he says. He holds out the fruit. “Here, take a bite. It’s a amazing. It tastes like pancakes.”
Helen partakes of the proffered fruit. “You’re right. It does. With real maple syrup.” She takes another bite and hands the fruit back to Harvey.
He spots the thirty two black seeds in a circle around the center and scoops them out of the juicy pulp with two fingers. “What are you doing?” asks Helen.
“Seeds.” He pushes open the screen door with his toe and tosses the seeds and pulp onto the backyard. “Let’s see what happens,” says Harvey.
****
            Soon Harvey’s yard has half a dozen of these plants growing on it. Before long the other guys in the band are growing their own plants. The fruit is rejuvenating in every way when eaten. Harvey’s neighbors’ yards are now also home to these plants.
            Harvey’s plants give new meaning to the phrase “locally grown.” It is discovered that if a fruit is taken more than a mile from its mother plant, it shrivels to a dry husk with the thirty two seeds rattling around inside. Those seeds will still grow, though.
The Skiffle Bohemians bass player, Martin, has a brother who is a licensed marijuana farmer in northern California. Martin sends some dried husks with seeds inside via FedEx and soon the plants are spreading throughout California.
Meanwhile, first the St. Petersburg Times does a story and then CNN picks it up and interviews Harvey. Part of the CNN segment shows Harvey playing and singing with the band. Everyone who eats the fruit, including the TV news talkers, tastes whatever food is in their mind when they take that first bite. Some taste a banana split. Others taste Cheerios, or peanut butter, or marshmallow, pork chop, steak, hot dog, fruit smoothie.
Word spreads as quickly as the plants. The fruits’ power of rejuvenation is unquestionable. Soon it is the only thing that people in retirement communities will eat. Meanwhile, stoners everywhere love to watch the seeds rearranging themselves in preparation for the plants’ rapid growth cycle.
****
AgriQuo, the pesticide and genetically modified seed giant, releases a statement claiming that the plant, which people have begun calling the Harvey plant, is the company’s very own genetically modified creation. AgriQuo refers to Harvey and Helen as “agricultural terrorists” and demands that they be charged with larceny, fraud, and grand theft. The losses, claims AgriQuo, will be in the billions.
“Surely,” says a pretty blonde AgriQuo spokesperson in a sound bite seen on all TV news. “No one believes some musician’s crazy hallucination of the seeds coming out of nowhere. This plant is right out of the AgriQuo labs. This fruit is the result of safe, healthy genetic modification.”
However, independent botanists soon dispute AgriQuo’s claims. The plant and its fruit have no genetic material to be modified. There is no DNA, no mitochondria, no cells. There is a substance that is unlike anything ever seen before. Its properties and mass are unique.
AgriQuo tries to backtrack but no one cares anymore. The plant is everywhere. Some news talkers, inspired by an AgriQuo press release, wonder if the plant is a danger to civilization. “Will it take over everything?” the TV news talkers ask.
However, it is soon evident that the plant population stabilizes naturally and does not produce more fruit than is consumed. The Harvey plant is the perfect plant. Pick a fruit and another grows immediately in its place. The media soon changes their collective tune.
Before long, all of the TV superstar physicians are in agreement. Eating the fruit of Harvey’s plant could lead to what the TV doctors are calling “natural immortality.”
“We can still die by train wrecks, car crashes, or bullets or other powerful impacts. But disease and what we call death by natural causes – those could be gone forever.”
****
            It is now four years since the seeds arrived through a rent in the fabric of existence. AgriQuo’s CEO and top scientists are all in prison for conspiring to create a toxin to kill the Harvey plant, after Congress passed a law protecting it. AgiQuo has been in bankruptcy proceedings for a year, as have the giant pharmaceutical companies. There is no more disease.
            Almost everyone everywhere on the planet has a Harvey plant. They need no care and grow in deserts and on mountaintops, indoors, outdoors, in drought or monsoon. They even grow in jail cells.
            A somewhat sad side effect, though, is the absence of babies. Once people eat the fruit they become sterile. Everyone is still able to enjoy both the physical and spiritual sides of love, but no procreation.
A few human couples are said to have taken refuge in remote regions. No one persecutes them. Everyone is too happy for that. Once it becomes clear that those who eat the plant regularly will feel great and remain their present age forever, with the exception of children and teens, who grow to maturity then stop, the vast majority of people happily trade the possibility of parenthood for eternal youth and vitality.
Ten years pass. No one gardens anymore, except at the breeder enclaves in remote regions. Farmers do not have to slave in the fields. The Harvey plant is the only crop. Hunger ends everywhere on the planet. People forget other tastes. Harvey fruit is the perfect food, a source of balanced and healthful nutrition. It tastes like happiness.
****
            The quilx begin to notice the changes. The colors of lunjaba plants have begun to dull ever-so-slightly and their swirling and changing hues are sluggish. The fruits grow smaller.
The lunjaba plant is entering its dormant phase. Every lunjaba plant everywhere, even where people call them Harvey plants, is now going dormant for fifty years. The quilx moves on to other food sources. 
Quilx experience neither loss nor anticipation as the plants enter their dormant stage. Their cravings shift from the lunjaba fruit to the leaves of the nakilila and other related plants for their food. That is the natural order.


END

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