A Root’s Journey
by Marina Foster
There was no one but me at the beginning.
And I did not know there could be anyone, I only knew that my purpose was to collect water and nutrients to the plant that sprouted above me in the world I would never know.
But over time, I stretched my arms wide and penetrated the soil deeper as the walls around me permeated with the water that appeared and I grew to know others as we intertwined to create a network in this underground world.
These others were no different than me, but I had to learn to share my water and nutrients. Some needed it more than others.
I could communicate with these others to learn what they were doing miles across from me, but I could never know what it was like above the darkness that surrounded me. What was I helping to grow?
My arms continued to expand, as did the passing of time and so did our knowledge of when we needed to store water or plunge further into the earth.
There was a time when I felt I had been digging deeper and deeper to find new minerals, wondering if this search would ever come to an end when I felt an excitement from the network, or maybe a nervousness.
The Earth rumbled and quickly the tips of the longest of roots were saturated in liquid.
The thin, dried arms suddenly became hydrated and plump.
I could feel my sprout above smiling, basking in the nourishment we were sending to it.
But the water did not stop.
The excitement turned to panic as we no longer had hold of the soil around us.
It was running from my touch as my body rose upwards and suddenly, blackness turned brown spots, and these spots fell away, turning into a blinding white light that melted to a deep blue.
These large, pounding drops of water hit at my limp body and I knew I was drowning, but I looked around for the first time at this new world around me.
There was brilliant, flashing of colors I could have never imagined before and creatures scurrying about.
Other plants swayed and thrashed in the swirling of the storm that took hold of all artifacts near and far.
In the middle of all this chaos and discovery, I took a moment to look at what my frail body had been attached to all these years.
Its trunk strong and powerful, sheltering creatures from the violent waters, and its canopy towering over all else.
A calmness drifted over me and through each of my hundreds of arms and legs.
I had served my purpose and I served it well.
Flash Fiction by Paul Hook
They were identical. An army of men and women dressed in white biohazard suits, latex gloves and full face masks. They moved as one unit, walking through the corridor to the departure gates, eschewing the travelator. Anyone who saw them got out of the way, as if an invisible force field pushed at them.
Ten, faceless and nameless people. It was an imposing sight to even the most hardened adults used to scenes of violence and death.
Taggart, a forty-something business executive travelling home to New York looked up from his phone and stared as the group passed him. Normally, these sights would have been unseen by him as he spent his time in the executive lounge, but the flight had been delayed. He hadn’t found out until he got to the boarding area and saw the disappointment on fellow passengers’ faces.
Great. Just what we need. They’re probably going to scrub the whole plane and we’ll have to wait until they get a replacement. I knew I shouldn’t have left the lounge.
Even the recent success in his work had been forgotten as the worst thoughts chugged into his head.
Kids pointed and stared, one lady ran to get out of their way and the airport staff seemed hesitant to engage with any of them.
Taggart went back to watching the stock market updates on his phone as he waited for the announcement over the P.A. system. At least then he could know when the next timing would be so that he could go back to the relative safety of the lounge and drown his sorrows in a London Mule.
A minute passed and Taggart looked towards the boarding area. The attendants stood behind the desk, carrying on. Thinking that he must have been too engrossed in the bull run on the stocks, he walked up to get an answer.
“Excuse me, miss. I mustn’t have heard the announcement. What will the new boarding time be?”
A young brunette looked back at him, her eyes hidden by bangs. She replied, “Sir, boarding will be in ten minutes.”
Confused by the answer, he nodded and turned. It was only at that point in time that he began to laugh.
Twenty feet in front of him sat the faceless army. They had their phones out, some had crossed their legs, talking to one another and a chubby man looked like he was sleeping.
The biohazard team wasn’t going to scrub the plane, they were just passengers like the rest of the group. Only, they took their safety to another level.
Taggart could only hope that they couldn’t afford business class. He sat back down and surreptitiously took a photo of the group to share with his friends.
Some things were just too unbelievable unless seen in person!
I have a dog named Mia. She is 10 years old in human years and 77 in dog years. She has brown eyes and black fur. In my opinion, she is super cute! She is super calm, and she never bites or nibbles. Sometimes she yacks but I think that brings out her personality. She talks to us by barking. Sometimes she gets in trouble when she digs in the trash. My parents saved her life when they rescued her and adopted her. She is good at being a loyal dog. She loves it when we give her pats on the head and when we give her treats. And lastly, she does not like watermelon.
Crops were stunted or dead. Lack of water from a dry winter and an even drier summer meant that he and others had to rely on an inconsistent irrigation system promised by the local government. Having surveyed his acreage, he would likely lose ninety percent of his crop of barley. Prices had skyrocketed to the point where he and his wife spent most of their days in a daze. No amount of worrying was going to fix their debt with the banks.
His thoughts on that day, looking at the baking sun, were of his great-grandfather Chester, his namesake. Chester had moved to Manitoba over one hundred years earlier and bought the five hundred acres for the farm.
The farm was now and had always been a dairy operation, but Chet’s worries turned to despair three weeks earlier when he heard that wheat wasn’t coming from the east coast. He and his wife made the decision to sell half of the herd to pay off debts. The couple were tough and knew that, with some luck and prayer every Sunday at church, the rains would come.
Every night, they sat on the porch perpetually searching for elusive clouds. Checking the WeatherNetwork app became an obsession, sometimes even at three in the morning.
Daisy looked at Chet after a particularly rough day, when the grasshoppers were becoming more numerous. “How about we do a rain dance tonight with the kids?”
Chet looked at his wife in disbelief. “Are you kidding?” He could tell by the look on her face that she was dead serious. “What would your parents think if they saw you and I dancing in the yard, hoping that the rains would come?”
“Darling, we’ve prayed already. We’ve sold half of our cows. Our crops are going to be meagre and the grasshoppers are taking over. What do we have to lose?”
He saw the twinkle in her eye and the dimple on her left cheek underneath the freckles. After a moment’s thought, he said, “What the heck.”
Later that day, the two set a big bonfire and did a rain dance like they used to do as kids. Their children even participated and the two border collies joined in. Chet knew it wouldn’t work, but he had to admit that it was the first day in weeks that the four of them had had any fun.
Chet fell asleep without any worry, a half-smile on his face.
He awoke to a tapping sound on the metal roof. Looking over by the window, he saw the silhouette of his wife, hands on her hips. Still groggy, he got up and shuffled over to her. “What are you doing up, honey?”
And then, he realized what the sound was. He hugged his wife from behind and felt the tension in his shoulders evaporate.