May Flowers – Another Bouquet

Have some more flowers, my peoples.

Acid Drops

The buttermilk basement lights feebly pushed the murk around but did nothing to dispel it.  The walls were wood veneer on sheetrock, the ceiling more sheetrock with thin enough primer to reveal branding, the floor concrete with fuzzy green skin like a pool table.  The little window that occasionally revealed passing voles and rats in the daytime was pure void black in the night.  Nobody stirred, nobody lived among the dusty milk crates of junk and stiff little furnishings, except silverfish, wolf spiders, and two teenage girls, tripping on lysergic acid.

Linda and Caroline waited with patience and near-perfect stillness, looking through each other with dilated pupils.  Caroline had told Linda it would be safe.  She had experience, and her own sense of inner peace and control could be extended to the less experienced girl if the trip turned dark.  Linda didn’t know if she believed it.  She’d heard that it’s good to have a sober friend to keep an eye on you, but she let herself be talked into it.  Didn’t seem like Caroline would be willing to pony up a tab unless she was flying as well.

Linda could see every part of Caroline.  She was smaller, with darker hair and eyes, pale skin, and tiny pink hands. Her peasant blouse of ivory pleated linen was cinched with silky green ribbons that shone like iridescent beetles.  There was something romantic about her in a way that was seldom trendy.  A Louise Brooks fifty years out of time.  Boys fell hard for Caroline, and Linda could see why, but that body was a doll shell around something less beautiful.  Her outline wavered like a 3-D movie, in tension with the world around it.  Her enlarged pupils blended with the dark color of her irises to become as void black as the little window—a portal to that disturbing interior.

Caroline’s fingers twitched—the first movement in what seemed like an hour—and Linda startled. For a second she imagined all her hair had fallen out with the surprise, sliding down the back of her head and neck, but she realized that was foolish, and didn’t believe it.  Still, the moment sent her reeling.  The room was still spinning after that, subtly but without end.

“What did you do?,” Linda asked.

“Huh?  Same as you.  A tab of acid.”

“I mean just now.  You did something to me.”

“Don’t believe your paranoia.  You’re better than that, baby.  This will be a good trip.  You’ll see.”  Caroline held out her hands, then let them fall to her lap, palms up.

In stillness the vision of Caroline had been centering, so every movement from the first twitch of the finger had disoriented Linda.  That’s the body high, right?  Whether you have a good trip or not, that’s in the head.  In what you do with your thoughts.  Linda tried to keep it together but it kept falling apart.

She became aware of her stomach and it seemed awareness of anything shot a thousand holes in it.  No structural integrity there.  She tried in vain to stanch the herniation, but there were not enough fingers to plug all the openings.  She was losing it, somehow on the floor, on her knees, looking at the green felt with unfocused eyes.

“Linda.  Linda, what are you seeing?”

“My guts.  My guts all over.  Oh god.”

“Your high is what you make it, honeybee.  It doesn’t have to be scary.”

“What if I can never get them back inside?  I think I’m gonna be sick.”

“Don’t!  Listen.  Even a morbid experience can be beautiful.  Don’t look away.”

“I can’t look away.  I can’t, what if–”

“Good!  What does it look like?”

“Bratwurst.  Blood, big … drops like softballs.”

“Focus on the blood.  Look at the drops, Linda.  Where they soak into the carpet, like watching a flower bloom with the patience of the sun.”

Caroline’s voice was so far away, but so rich and clear.  An angel from the Fifth Dimension.  Linda tried to look at her, but lost nerve again.  If she didn’t look at where her guts fell, she might lose them.  What if the doctors needed all the guts they could find?  But she found herself obeying Caroline’s voice of experience, watching the blood instead of the guts.

The blood soaked into the green felt where it hit, turning darker than it otherwise would be, rich red deepened into near black but oscillated with its own furious identity.  The blurry edge of the pools, it really was like the delicate leading edge of rose petals.  Flowers.  She was bleeding great beautiful flowers.

Linda smiled sadly.  “I’m going to die.”

Caroline said, “No, you can take your blood back.  You can keep it.  Just pluck these flowers and eat them.”

“Really?”  She let out a creaking half-laugh.

“Sure you can.  Here.  Before it’s too late.  Take one.”

Caroline’s perfect little hands came into view, plucking one of Linda’s blood flowers out of the green and holding it up to her face.

“Put it in my mouth!  Hurry!”  She raised her eyes to meet Caroline’s.  Red pooled in the bottom of her black irises like twin cough drops.  Caroline fed her the flower.

Linda felt the petals lap at the sides of her mouth, brush along cheek and tongue, clog the back of her throat like getting a bad bloody nose as a small child.  Caroline’s fingers slipped into her mouth sometimes as she worked, a strangely erotic teasing in the slight penetration.

Linda couldn’t speak, but she didn’t choke, gulping down flower after flower, body still paralyzed with the need to hold in what was left of her intestines.  Caroline was smiling.  “Tastes good, doesn’t it?  Like salty cherry chocolates.”

It did.  But also like blood.  Linda felt the cherry taste in her cheeks, chocolate taste over her tongue and palate, the blood taste in her throat, and the salt taste throughout.  She couldn’t breathe but somehow she was still alive, eating or drinking, it was hard to tell.

Caroline’s smile crooked to a side.  “…And one for the doctor.”  She took one of the flowers for herself, inhaling the bloom like cotton candy and slurping the stem like a red-black noodle.  She licked her lips, but they remained darker than before.  Or had she been wearing red lipstick the whole time?  No, definitely not.

“Not yours,” Linda croaked wetly.

“You’ll never miss it.  Trust me.”  The inside of her mouth was much darker than before.

“I don-” Linda lost the words in the swallowing, the desperate consumption.

Caroline took one for herself, then another.  As the blood came into Linda it kept coming out, and with the dark-haired girl harvesting a tax on the flower supply, well, Linda had to be sustaining some net loss, hadn’t she?  She didn’t notice when Caroline rocked her back onto the floor, laid her down gently as possible on that cold concrete.  Holding in the guts was much easier in that position, but everything else a sticky mess.

The master had said Caroline could no longer imbibe of human vices, but he was wrong.  It just took a little more effort for a dead girl.  In the end, the high was all hers.

Rose Gold

Lasers from the laser boys.
The cold city ate the young and vomited heat that pierced the sky,
crested, and then drowned the people in boiling rain.
How had any of the rats survived?
Maybe they hadn’t. Maybe a city is the flower of humanity,
drawing its populace through rural roots and blossoming
into a fleshy display of perfect beauty and perfect cruelty,
before eating itself, dying, and starting again.
That’s what happened in the laser boy incident,
the city immolating itself in a savage beauty,
a pink light that settled in simmering pools that slowly drained
and disappeared into the sewers where diaphanous mutants writhe,
and deeper still until the memory of it all just ceased to be.
Laser water.

That’s what Brycine Cybernetics used to fuel Project: Rose Gold,
a nondescript corporate complex in the warehouse district,
a shell around hydroponic gardens of perfect pink roses.
They would allow human photosynthesis,
be the Seal of Famine, an end to the rolling food crises
that had rocked the world since time immemorial –
for a price, of course, and Brycine’s shareholders would be as gods.
Suck up that pink laser water, little flowers, and do your thing.

But to make use of this miracle, humanity would need to change as well.
Brycine had to find the perfect human to receive the machines,
one who could survive the initial implementation
because she was already dead.
They required a woman whose cellular processes persisted
after the arrest of the heart, just long enough and in just the right way
to allow the Rose Gold Interface™ to take root in her flesh.
Cyber ambulances prowled the city like hungry lions
cleaning up after police riots and other scenes of gang violence
for the bodies that would not be missed.
The EMTs would test the dead to see if they met the criteria,
and part them out in the usual way if they did not.
At last, at the scene of a battle between The Machete Mans
and the Garrotte Girls, they found the Chosen One.
Isadora Kors lay across her girlfriend Stuck Steppy like a lead apron,
back chopped into chunks of bone and meat,
blood sloshing in place with the rise and fall of Steppy’s breath.

They came and took her. Stuck Steppy was too concussed
to stop them, sloppy grabs at their ankles and shins,
the thick canvas of their uniforms slipping her feeble grasp.
Isadora darling dear, she thought through clotting fluids,
come back to me.
In the aftermath of the incident, struggling through sutures and gauze,
through police and punks, through the loss of it all
she thought as hard as she could.
Some people are better off not trying in the first place,
she mixed cause and effect, and blamed Isadora’s demise on the medics.
This broken reasoning by broken clock principle set her on the right path.

It was just like when the laser boys had to get their man,
a band of ragged youths against the world of money and power.
Stuck Steppy rallied the gang to raid Brycine Cybernetics
with a promise of valuable things to steal, but all that can be earned
with switchblades and pistols is a wage of chaos and death.
Death to the gang, chaos to the city,
as the monster of Avarice’s making escapes the vaults of power.

Isadora was part plant and part machine and part the lady that Steppy loved,
the one who always took a knife for her in street fights,
the one who knew how to kiss her lovin’ parts just right,
but oily black pistons drove viciously thorned vines
through everything in sight, pink roses bloomed in them
and cried out to the night sky, we have drunk deeply of the well of laser water,
and the season of rain has returned.

Baba Safia

She comes out of the tumbleweeds,
when you see a great roiling mass of the things
coming down the trail like a pale golden wave.
She flies like that, a little old lady,
skin the color of bone, etched with so many lines
like twine stretched over a marionette.

Baba Safia is of a people lost to history,
earnt the name of Safia in a Turkish harem,
earnt the name of Baba from living a few centuries.
Her nose is a beak, discolored eyes bulge and sink
into her skull with the vagaries of expression –
an expression deranged like a bull with an estoc in the neck,
murder in the eyes, and a beaming rictus on golden teeth.

Ask her how she lives forever; won’t do you much good.
It takes so long to learn that youth is a distant memory
by the time you know how.  For Baba Safia it was roots
that run through her native soil.
They have a little trick whereby the plant dies, dries, and tumbles away,
but the roots revive like bones in Ezekiel’s hands.
Elsewhere the tumbling corpse carries the weed’s life into time yet unborn.

Baba Safia was burned at the stake and spent a dark eon in dreaming,
woke in a field of flax up the way of the Montana Territory,
and lived in these lands ever since.

You thought we always had tumbleweeds here?
You don’t remember the time before she came?
Doesn’t much matter, can’t bottle a genie.
Can’t stop the wind, and can’t outlive a ghost.

On our writing discord, these entries are rewarded with a flower graphic in a big collage.  June 30th is the last day to get such a reward, so pens down for me here.  I got all of them except orange.  Not too shabby.

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