The Return


Author : Grady Hendrix

“Wait!” he said. “Look at that!”

“What the hell is it?” she asked, slamming on the hovercar brakes.

“You’ve never seen one?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“You’re in for a treat,” he said, bouncing up and down with excitement. “Come on.”

He scrambled out of the hovercar and onto the blasted earth.

“I haven’t seen one of these since I woke up,” he said, jogging over to the green patch. “It’s called a tree.”

“I thought they all died in the Great War?”

His knees buckled a little and she caught him. It had only been two months since he’d been cracked out of his hundred year cryo-sleep, one of the first old growth humans to be brought back into this postwar world, finally judged capable of leaving the Citi-Dome and going on patrol with Sara-10.

“Steady on,” she said.

“They haven’t given me much history yet, but I haven’t seen a tree or a plant since I woke up. Look,” he said. “Its leaves change color with the time of year. See those tiny green things? They’re buds, new parts of the tree will grow from them. They’re capable of so many things that we can’t do…” a tear slid down his cheek.

Then a high pressure stream of burning liquid fuel hit the tree and it exploded into a fireball.

“What are you doing?” he screamed.

Sara-10 ignored him and burned the tree until her flamethrower was empty.

“We lost a lot of good men to bastards like that,” she said as the tree crackled.

“That’s maybe the only tree left alive after the Great War and you killed it?”

She slapped another fuel tank on her flamethrower and hit the tree with another blast.

“Who do you think we fought the Great War against?” she asked. “Fucking trees. Taking up all the land, breaking up our cities with their roots, killing everyone – “ she broke down crying. He reached to comfort her but she slapped his hand away. “Let’s just go,” she snapped. “I have to report this.

The tree watched them depart, cursing the mobile ones.

“We’ll be back,” it thought as it died. “There are more of us…we will water our roots with your blood…”

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