I have the lovely distinction of hosting Friday Fiction this week. You can thank my pile of homework for the late addition. I've been writing this piece in between of figuring out my papers due for tomorrow. (I did finish the papers first though. So no worries!). Anyway, here we go, part two of the Greybell Flower. Enjoy the gardening adventures with Andy and Nena. Thanks for stopping by!
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Nena buried her head under the round pillow in her sleeping hut. The groan that left her lips had everything to do with the fact that she hadn’t been able to rest in peace since the moment she’d retired for the night. A few more torturous minutes of her overactive mind led to the decision to leave the warmth and safety of her sleeping bag for the chilly night air.
Dressing by the moonlight that filtered through the shuttered blind of her single window, Nena jammed her feet into waterproof boots and stuffed her arms through the sleeves of her raincoat. She stepped out of the little hut and turned to smile up at the night sky.
There was no surprise at the strong glow of pale yellows and pinks from the nightflowers that covered the hillside where all the sleeping huts were grouped. The friendly light lent a pleasant haze to the night and she paused to pluck the blossom of from one golden bunch. Wrapping it halfway with her handkerchief, she directed the light to the dirt path and made her way down the small hill and towards the main greenhouses.
An invisible pull seemed to be coaxing her as she drew nearer and stopped upon seeing Andy standing at the fork in the path from where the men’s sleeping huts were separate from the women. “Hi?” She held up the flower.
Andy gestured for her to proceed. He was bundled up in his winter gardening gear with a hat pulled snugly down over his rounded ears. He fell into step beside her and made a sound of impatience when she stopped to offer him a flower.
He pulled her to a stop only a few moments later, his sharp green eyes almost glowing in the night. “Can you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Nena cocked her head to the side, a wrinkle stealing over her brow. “Andy, I’ve-” She froze. The flower fell from her hand and her body grew rigid.
Andy muttered to himself and yanked her back a few paces, fumbling in his coat pocket for a pair of earplugs. “Cover your ears!” He shoved the rubbery stubs into her slack hands, making sure that she was responding before he tended to himself.
“What is it?” She eyed the flower several feet ahead of them in the path and then looked down at her hands. “I didn’t even hear anything.” She blushed a moment later, then touched the emerald gems fastened to her ears. The inter-gardener communication link activated a second later and she heard Andy’s reply.
“You don’t have to hear it.” Andy snapped. “But it explains that Marcus fellow.”
“The plants didn’t like him,” Nena fell into step behind Andy, pausing to snatch up her handkerchief and the floor as they passed it. “I mean, they don’t like anybody, but they didn’t bother her.” She bit her lip. “You don’t think it’s her, do you?”
“There’s only one other person it could be and since she’s walking behind me, I’m not inclined to blame her.” Andy rolled his eyes heavenward. “Less talking and more walking, alright?”
They reached the greenhouses and split up at the main entrance to narrow down the source of the invisible pull. Andy promised that the earplugs would keep them from falling under the spell of whatever it was and extracted her promise that she would call him the moment she noticed anything amiss.
Her first instinct was the rare plant storehouse, before she remembered that their resident thief had already wrecked it the week before. It was just one of many odd occurrences in the weeks leading up to the agricultural conference.
Word on the underground was that the conference was a flimsy cover for a peace summit. Whether that was true or not, the Celphians were strange individuals to the point that any perceived slight would be grounds to refuse cooperation with humans in any shape or form.
The potential loss of access to such advanced technology had prompted the Garden Council to step in and make their presence known. The Emerald Garden Emporium had kept to the quieter corners of the market and scientific research, enjoying a quiet existence.
It was due to the lack of outside interference that they were able to raise and nurture rare plant species such as the Greybells in question. That thought sent Nena scurrying for the isolation greenhouse and she turned the corner just as Andy arrived.
His grim smile made her stomach sink. She could feel the pull drawing her towards the greenhouse door, compelling her to enter and discover the source. She opened her mouth to speak only for Andy to lurch forward and clap a hand over her mouth.
He shook his head vigorously, then pantomimed walking around to look through the tiny window on the rear entrance. Nena managed a shrug and followed him around to the backside of the greenhouse.
The invisible pull settled itself as a yawning ache deep in her chest that brought tears to her eyes as her mouth opened in a soundless cry. She clapped both hands over her mouth, but couldn’t stop the tears from trickling out.
Andy looked away, pretending not to see as he squinted into the gloomy interior as far as the tiny window would allow.
She watched as his eyes darkened from the glimmering pale green to a near pitch black, showing him everything that he desired to see. A moment later, he stepped back, shaking his head and stretching out one hand to rest on the side of the greenhouse.
She perked a brow, but he only shook his head and gestured to the window. Blinking away the streaming tears, Nena pressed her lips tightly together and stretched up on tip-toe, cupping her hands over the glass to take a look. The sight that met her eyes stole her breath away.
© Sara Harricharan
|found on google images.|