Here's my chapter of the Round Robin Blogvel, Bloom. If you haven't read the previous chapters, here are the links:
Chapter 2–The Creativity Rebellion
Chapter 3–Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire
Chapter 4–Jello World
Chapter 5–Report from a Fugitive
Chapter 6–Words from the Woods
Chapter 7–Kay Elam Writes
Chapter 8–Kacey Vanderkarr
Chapter 9–Inner Owlet
Chapter 10–The Demeter Diaries
Chapter 11–Tighty Writie
Chapter 12–Suzanne Payne
Chapter 13–Verbose Veracity
Chapter 16–In the Jungle
And now, the next installment:
Bloom Chapter 15
Tears streamed from Jessica’s eyes as she watched Gran lumber away, following the massacring plants. There had been a moment, when Plant-Gran had turned toward Jessica, reached for her, and Jessica knew she remembered.
Then the moment vanished. Gran was a monster now, and Jessica wanted to scream. She jerked her arm out of Wanda’s grip and turned on her. “Tell me it can be reversed. Tell me we can save her.”
Wanda blinked, glanced after the retreating plants, and sighed. “I’m sorry. She’s gone, and we need to find Jamie and your parents.”
A weight settled on Jessica’s shoulders. Wanda was right. She had grown a lot in the last few hours. Too much. She pushed thoughts of Gran from her mind and allowed Wanda to lean on her again.
“Let’s go.” But Jessica allowed the tiniest ember of hope to remain buried under common sense and urgency. Gran had responded for that small second. She was still in there, and Jessica would not just give up on her.
They pushed on through the ravaged downtown area. Jessica studiously avoided looking at the dismembered bodies and gore. It was a harder to ignore the squelching under her feet. If she survived this, she intended to burn her shoes and every stitch of clothing she wore.
“Stop,” Wanda gasped, clutching her side. She pitched forward, knees buckling, and Jessica didn’t have the strength to hold her up. They tumbled to the ground, and Wanda cried out in pain. Her eyes rolled back, and she mumbled something Jessica didn’t understand. Then she was out.
Jessica swallowed. She was alone, with killer plants closing in at all sides. “Please, Wanda, wake up.”
Wanda didn’t stir. Jessica sat back on her heels and drew in a deep breath. She needed to calm down
and think. She had to consider her assets. What were her assets?
A phone. Jessica drew in a sharp breath. Wanda had a phone. Jamie had called her. Maybe Jessica could get in touch with him. Jessica fished in Wanda’s pockets and drew out a thin, expensive looking phone. She scrolled quickly through the menus, and found the call log.
The first entry in received calls burned into her eyes. Not Jamie’s number. Not even some random number that might have been a number Jamie was calling from. Instead, she saw the words, Private Number. Who would be calling Wanda from a private number?
Top Secret Labs.
Rage boiled through Jessica’s blood. How dare she? She’d lied right to Jessica’s face.
Jessica stood, still holding the phone in her hand. She longed to fling it away, but it was her only link to Jamie. Her only link to anything at the moment. Emotion was not a reason to discard a weapon.
Listen to you. All grown up. Maybe you’re the real evil genius of the family. Jessica brushed aside her sarcastic inner voice and gazed down at the unconscious woman at her feet. The smart thing would be to leave her behind to fend for herself. Her loyalties were a dangerous unknown. Jessica took a step to the side, with every intention of walking around Wanda’s body and continuing the search for her family.
But something stopped her. She couldn’t do it. Though a part of her knew Wanda would do it in a heartbeat to save her own life, Jessica couldn’t bring herself to be responsible for another human being’s death.
So, what could she do? She couldn't carry Wanda’s body, and she wasn’t about to try waking her up.
From the silence in her mind, she guessed there were no killer-plants nearby. That gave her a bit of leeway in searching for a solution.
“I’ll be back for you,” she whispered.
A ways up the road, she hit pay dirt. An abandoned car sat in the middle of the road, the driver door hanging open and the engine still humming. Jessica slid into the driver’s seat, ignoring the blood stains. She threw the car into drive, and made a sharp U-turn.
Wanda still lay in the middle of the street where Jessica had left her. It took a good deal of effort to heft her dead-weight into the back seat of the car. Once that was done, Jessica still had a problem.
Wanda was the enemy. Jessica wouldn’t kill or abandon her, but she couldn’t allow her to go free.
She found a bundle of stray vines and used them to tie Wanda’s legs together and her arms behind her back. The knots probably sucked, but she tried to make up for it by tightening them to the point of pain.
A faint buzzing tickled the back of her mind. The staticky, rustling voices of the plants. They grew stronger as she secured the last vine around Wanda’s ankles. She climbed into the car and took off down the road.
The voices ebbed in her mind, rising and fading as she drove. Her eyes scanned the road, desperate for any sign of Jamie or her Mom. Or Dad.
Her heart jumped slightly at the memory of seeing her mother again after so long. She hadn’t even gotten a chance to talk to her. Or hug her. Now there was a chance she might even see her Dad again.
A lump clogged her throat. She steered the car around a three car pile-up. The plant voices rose in volume and she could see several of them attacking one of the cars. The people inside flailed and screamed for help.
Jessica flinched. She had no more plant killer. She couldn’t do anything for those people, but something forced her to hit the brake. She had to help somehow.
As if summoned by Jessica's desperation and terror, a black hummer came tearing up the road.
Jamie hung out the side window, a spray gun clutched in his hand. As the hummer lurched to a stop, he jumped out and ran toward the cars.
Jessica’s heart swelled. She climbed out of the car, and ran toward him.
He waved her off, his eyes never straying from the plants he sprayed. “Go, get more plant killer.”
She veered toward the hummer, and her heart leapt in her chest.
Mom stood by the driver’s side door, strapping a canister to her back. She greeted Jessica with a brilliant smile. “Hey Sweetie. You’re Dad’s on his way with a few of our friends. We’ve almost got them all.”
Almost got them all.
Jessica’s moment of euphoria at the thought of seeing her Dad again evaporated. She turned back to the plants that Jamie was spraying. Gran
Plant-Gran stood back from the carnage, like a general surprising soldiers. Jessica had a strong feeling Wanda’s assessment of the plants’ intelligence was underestimated. She turned to her Mom. “It’s Gran. We have to try to save her.”
Her mother froze, eyes going to the half dozen or so plants advancing on Jamie. “Mom?”
A scream of outrage from the Jessica’s procured car made Jessica flinch. She’d almost forgotten about Wanda.