She bent, peering at the odd bloom that had appeared overnight in her prized garden. It burst open expelling its venom.
Sally, stunned, carefully extracted the dozen or so tiny dart-like seeds from her neck and right cheek. She collected them gingerly in her palm, careful not to lose any of the precious pods.
She felt really strange. Routine carried her from task to task, but her mind was literally miles away. Her thoughts seemed to tick inside her brain like check marks on a to-do list.
A soothing soft voice droned in Sally’s mind. The voice called her simply “Gardener.”
She received instructions from the voice. Her mind dubbed the voice as “Maraud” for some unknown reason.
Maraud directed the Gardener to plant the unique seeds in special little pots of soil obtained from the belly of a cave, which branched into Sally’s prized back yard garden.
Sally had always feared the dark recesses of that cave, but that day she entered without alarm and placed her small pots of soil onto thirteen natural looking little alcoves jutting from the walls of the cave.
As the last pot sank onto its resting place, a blue light shot from the rocky wall beneath it and struck another pot on the opposite wall. The blue light zigzagged back and forth between the pots until a cobweb of filmy blue strands hung across the cave walls. The light blinked out from the strands leaving iridescent filament crisscrossed over the interior surfaces of the cave.
Sally watched without fear as a bat woke from its ceiling resting spot and attempted to swoop through the cave filaments. It stuck to the thin pearly fibers and struggled to get free.
A small multi-legged creature about the size of a golf ball scuttled from one of Sally’s flowerpots. It grasped the struggling bat with powerful looking tweezer-like claws and inserted a thick gray straw-like appendage into the struggling animal’s chest. The bat gave one final high-pitched chitter then fell limply against the weird beast from the pot. The voice of Maraud called the creature Guardian as soft tones soothed the fear centers of Sally’s brain until she was able to watch the Guardian suck all life from the bat turning its small body into a dried black husk that wafted silently to the cave floor.
Sally’s back yard garden of beautiful and unusual plants is a unique showplace in the Arkansas foothills.
Sally works her garden with the abandonment of a gardening fanatic careful that not one weed should mar her treasured showplace.
The cave opening is camouflaged with colorful flowering shrubs and vines that carry with them a haunting fragrance like peppermint and cherries.
Sometimes, when dogs or children approach the cave opening wanting more of the delicious fragrance, Sally rubs the right side of her face trying to remember why she should shoo the visitors away. At times like this, Maraud’s voice intercedes and sooths away her worries.
Sally’s the Gardener. Her job is to keep her garden a perfect showplace and attract visitors (food?).
It is not her job to wonder how big the Guardians have grown with all of the food they’ve consumed recently.
At night when she’s asleep, however, she dreams that Maraud visits and plants more seeds. He looks like a smiling Greek god with curly hair and beautiful white teeth, but sometimes the mask slips a little during his efforts.
Sally’s mind tries to grasp the look of the hideous being know as Maraud but the insectile alien contours of the face above her softens into its smiling human version before she can fully grasp the concept of what’s happening. Soothing tones then smooth away her terror. The soothing tones that lately seem to end in an almost angry insectile buzz.
Somewhere, deep in the cortex of Sally’s mind, a tiny nugget of her former self wonders if the new buzzing voice belongs to Maraud or the fetus she’s carrying.
A numbing trill kicks away that little nugget and reminds her that Gardeners were put on the earth to garden and nurture. She must leave the thinking and wondering to the Marauders.
Note from the Author: The first paragraph of this story is courtesy of #storystarters, a Twitter Application.
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