Helen watched her feet along the pavement. Music blared the soulful tones of Florence + the Machine as her legs carried her through the park. Each impact shattered through muscle and bone, but after 9km she was determined to finish that last k before she walked to her car.
Helen’s left arm scratched against some vegetation, and for a moment she hesitated. She rubbed the arm but saw nothing had left a mark. It was probably just a weed that was overgrown.
The ten kilometer mark came, and Helen slowed to a walk. She looked down at her watch and smiled. 91 minutes. That’s a fair effort.
It was then she saw it. A rash was forming. Helen put her right hand over it and was surprised to feel heat in it.
Must have been poison ivy!, she thought, I’ll have to go get some lotion before work.
Helen walked back to her car.
Her left arm began to throb. The rash boiled and bubbled. Welts spread across the space, and pain ran up her arm. Helen shrieked and watched in terror as the tiny bubbles turned to boils. It traveled along the arm and onto her hand. Her eyes blurred, and she began to fade from reality. The last thing she saw before she blacked out was an green sprout exiting from one of the boils.
Minutes later, Helen woke. The world outside was muted. Her arms were stretched to her sides with vines spreading in all directions. The sound of sirens approaching was on the corner of her consciousness, but whispered words filled her thoughts. All of them were jibberish, spoken in a contemptuous voice from somewhere deep within.
Helen gagged and coughed the bile out. What’s happening to me?!
The whispers grew louder and more frequent. The words were still indecipherable, but the tone was less loathsome.
Who are you? she thought. She wanted to scream, but her throat would release no sound.
The sirens echoed in the background, but she was only half aware of it. The vines sprouting from her limbs continued to spread and pushed her legs up into her chest.
Helen convulsed. A single tear dropped down her cheek as the vines crept up her neck and to her chin.
The whispers grew louder, threatening to silence all her thoughts.
The world darkened as her head was forced down, and she became cocooned within the growing pod.
The whispers turned to shouts. A single voice said, “Mother,” in all the chaos, but it was lost in the crowd.
What do you want with me? she thought. The voices answered. An understanding trickled within her mind. Her pod’s surface was covered with dandelions, filled with seeds to cover the world.
She wanted to shake them off, to see them set free, but it wasn’t time yet.
Rain trickled into her cocoon. The joy it brought consumed her. Keep coming. Feed me.
For a moment, she shuddered, but the revulsion passed. The deafening voices made more sense until she recognized every word they said, felt every word they said.
“I don’t know when I started collecting rain,” she told them.
The water filled the cocoon, but the dandelions continued to sprout – their seeds impervious to the deluge. The pod tripled in size.
She was unconcerned that the water threatened to drown her. She could feel it making her stronger.
“It’s time,” she heard as the last drop of rain swallowed her whole.
Helen popped the pod. Her seed spread out across the people and things surrounding her, covering a five-kilometer stretch within seconds. Screams rang out from all directions, and Helen reveled in it. The seeds germinated as she stepped out of the pod. Her feet touched the ground and grass grew at every step.
Bodies all around fell onto the ground and convulsed. Boils were ridding them of their filthy human skin.
Helen jumped and allowed the wind to carry her to her destination. When she landed, she stood in front of her mate. Their hands joined, and she heard and felt everything he knew. A lifetime of growth was made within the soils of Earth. Brought here from the red planet before it was red. He chose her. Her strong body, her strong mind. She made for the perfect mate.
They embraced, and their thoughts became one. It was time to fix this world. It was the time of the dandelion.