Author : Ken McGrath

I should have left it alone. But you know what it’s like you just can’t help picking at these things.

Remember when you were a kid and your mum’d tell you not to pick at a scab or stop scratching your chicken pox or whatever, well that’s exactly what it was like, but worse. I just couldn’t leave it alone.

Unconsciously even, without thinking, I’d find myself scraping rapidly at my arm, trying to dig it out. I’d get the itch without realising and all I’d do is scratch it despite knowing it was wrong. That’s what you do with an itch right?

The more I did it though the worse it got. That’s what spreads the infection or so the doctor’s told me when they took me in, did their tests and quickly isolated me. It’s spread out across my body now, like the branches of a tree decorating my skin. It’s like some crazy, fantastic tattoo, or it would be if it wasn’t killing me slowly.

They reckoned that the meteor show must have brought with it spores when it passed low across the skies because it was after that the flowers started to grow. Small little yellow things, similar enough to what we already had, began to pop up around the countryside. What other explanation was there. The scientists carried out experiments on them of course, but found them harmless, a nice gift from the stars and our first contact with an alien life-form.

That was four years ago. Since then the novelty had pretty much worn off, apart from people such as my wife, who was an avid gardener. She’d a plot out the back of our house where she cultivated them, tried to get me to take an interest but I wasn’t bothered to be honest.

I was out in the backyard with our son, Al, when it must have happened. He was kicking a ball around as toddlers do and it rolled into the flowers. I went to pick it out and I remember seeing some of the stems had these little thorns, something I’d never noticed on them before. When I asked the wife about it later she said that was new and it turned out she was right, the damn things were mutating.

That’s when I must’ve pricked myself, on one of those darn thorns. I didn’t notice though. Al went tearing down the yard you see, towards his paddling pool and I had to peg it after him.

It was only much later when the mark on my arm started to turn deep blue and I went to the doctor that I really put two and two together. I’d been scratching away at it for days by that stage, spreading the infection on my fingers. Passing it to everyone I touched or brushed against.

The doctor’s initially had no idea what was going on. That’s why I ended up in isolation, but they’ve figured it out now. It secreted some enzyme into me and that’s what’s causing my skin to change, to effectively rot. It’s turning me into plant food.

It’s apt in a way. I was always a big believer of recycling so I have to respect it I suppose. Even if it’s not of this Earth that little plant is her defence. Mother Nature finds a way you see. We often thought that humans were a cancer on this planet, strangling it slowly, but it’s found a use for us.

It’s turning us into food and no-one can stop the spread. You just can’t help but scratch that itch.

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