Author : George Galuschak

The end of the world: we expected mad cows, Y2K, global warming, asteroids, nukes, tidal waves, flu-stricken chickens and angels descending from Starship Christ. What we got was The Blue Weed. We don’t know the delivery method – meteor strike, abandoned spaceship, some geek from another dimension. All we know is that we’ll never know.

Picture this: a light blue flower with black speckles, droopy petals, creamy stamen. A hiker found them, tucked in a crater deep in the Smoky Mountains. She knew something was up right away: thumbing through her Wildflower Guide, finding nothing, working up the nerve to touch them.

A quarter-million sub-microscopic seeds went home with her, attached to every pore of her body. She woke up two days later, saw clumps of the flower growing all over her lawn. They spread from there, filling up parks and vacant lots and the cracks between sidewalks. Indestructible; dump lye on them and more came back the next day.

People shrugged their shoulders – big deal, a new weed – until the grass and trees started to die. Purple Haze: an alien virus, spreading, choking bark and branch in a blanket of fuzz. Purple Haze grew on everything, even human skin, and it was next to impossible to remove.

The alien bugs came: yellow, spiky caterpillar things; dragonflies the size of birds; beetles with weird glyphs on their shells. They rooted around in the Blue Weed, doing God knows what. Completely alien physiology – they had backbones, for starters, and secreted an oil. If you touched one with bare skin, boils, blisters, time for the hospital.

The word invasion became popular. People scratched their heads and wondered when the invaders would arrive, not realizing. Alien grays and little green men and penis-shaped rocket ships made sense, but a bunch of flowers? Gardeners aside, one doesn’t think of weeds as world conquerors.

The government swooped in with an arsenal of pesticides: defoliant, weed killer, DDT. They all worked; none of them worked. The Blue Weed died, and was reborn. The government tried other things: they quarantined people in plague zones, just like a bad horror movie. It didn’t work, because you can’t quarantine the wind.

The Blue Weed grew and grew. The flowers sucked in oxygen and emitted their own bitches’ brew into the atmosphere, changing it. The mass extinctions commenced: 99% of all living species, gone. The ants survived, along with the cockroaches. Humans died in droves: the old, the young and the sick went first. The survivors’ skin took on a tint just like the flowers.

Earth, today: nothing to see but a never-ending plain of The Blue Weed, waist high, swaying gently in the wind. The landscape: crystal jellyfish, drifting through the clouds; small, chattering monkeys with huge ears and wide, unblinking eyes; and the last human, cowering in the long grass, hiding from the carnivorous dragonflies, smothering in a world turned blue.



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