Dating : Mary’s Plant

h2>Dating : Mary’s Plant

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
C. Scott Weedman

Chapter 6

My brother-in-law has a gas generator. We have dry goods and perishables in a freezer; we can survive two weeks as long as the windows don’t break, or something doesn’t grow through the floor. We boarded up the windows with tables and mattresses. The darkness came shortly thereafter, blotting out the sky and rushing through the forest like some impossible, biblical horde.

It is black outside, save for the intermittent flashes of red. It’s overkill, that damn lightning. I mean that quite literally.

I lifted a corner of mattress covering the living room window (it used to provide a postcard-like view, complete with a pond and an old tire swing) and brought my flashlight up. There are things in the black grime that writhe and, I don’t know, pulsate in the blackness, giving it its swirling effect. They bristle with needled incisors. They don’t belong in any entomology book I’ve ever seen. They appear and disappear like strange to-and-fro shadows fighting for a singular position, like angry symmetry between matter and anti-matter. I dropped the corner of the mattress, thinking of the man tumbling out of the mist and batting at himself.

My god, they ARE the grime.


I’m writing this from a desk in an upstairs bedroom.

There’s a lead safe. When I’m finished, I’ll slide the papers inside, scribble the code under the locking spindle with a permanent marker, and lock it.

A few moments ago my brother-in-law stepped into the room with two glasses of whiskey. He slumped on the edge of the bed. The white-knuckled nervousness that gripped him — all of us, actually — for the past forty-eight hours was gone. We drank. I’m no connoisseur, but it tasted damn fine.

“We need to discuss things,” he said in a flat voice, “How you and I, as men, should finish this when the time comes. When there’s no time left.”

I said I understood.

“Tina has a bottle of prescription Valium,” he continued, “I have a rifle and a handgun in the den. As long as our wives are sleeping, we can end this in our own rooms. I know that sounds horrible, Dale, but I won’t allow my family to be … consumed by what’s out there, not while I’m alive.” He clamped his eyes shut. “Why?” he asked, raking a hand through his hair.

A heck of a question, that. One I have no answer for. And for a while I didn’t. But I do have an opinion, modest as it is. Call it a hunch or a premonition, but I think it occurred to me the moment I laid eyes on Mary’s plant when I was walking Humbert (he’s laying at my feet as I write. He won’t leave my side). It’s this: Do I think this mess is some sort of cosmic retribution? We’ve forsaken our world, so out we go?

There’s plenty of madness out there to think that way, but I don’t believe it.

I do feel, however, that we’ve failed to heed the Earth, this ball on which we live our lives so blithely, this thing that has thrived in the cold vastness of space for nearly five billion years. We’ve gotten so drunk on our own frivolity that we’ve overlooked how that could be and just what our planet is — an interstellar survivor.

What’s happening now, as sudden and retaliatory as it seems, is happening despite us, not in spite of us. There is no more cause and effect now than there was sixty-five million years ago when a sudden, sulfurous darkness covered the dinosaurs.

Our Earth is resetting itself, or, as my brother-in-law put it, dusting itself off. Our time was and now it’s not. There’s the exit folks — Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.


It’s so cold.

Yes, the house is like a tomb now. You can feel the pressure from outside. Voices don’t carry well. My ears ring. And the generator in the basement, it’s coughing. The ventilation didn’t last long once the plants here blew their tops.

Something large just gave way downstairs: the big picture window, or the sliders leading to the deck.

Yep, there go the lights.

I have a pencil flashlight.

Next to me, my wife, Susannah — sister to Rachel, daughter to Roy and Lydia, mother to no one (save for Humbert), is sleeping like the dead. An empty Dixie cup, like some anti-talisman, sits on the nightstand between us.

I pet my dog. Trust and understanding glimmer in his eyes.

Just three things to do now.


Final thought …

I hope that thousands or even millions of years from now, when whomever or whatever unearths this safe, they will open it and discuss its contents — family photos, Humbert’s collar, a high school love note between my sister and brother-in-law, our IDs, and this manuscript — through whatever form of communication they possess.

If not, they’ll have our bones.

The darkness will see to that.


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