So before I 'left', I told you about a blogvel I was involved with. This is a book that is written by several different writers on their blogs. Everybody gets assigned a chapter. Michelle Simkins at Greenwoman was the master mind of all this. Here is the table of contents for Bloom and everything everybody else has written up to this point. Some of the chapters may be hidden down in their blogs if they post a lot, so you may have to scroll down quite a way before you find some of them, but they're all marked as "Bloom chapter-whatever" so you'll know.
So, here's my contribution.
The shrubs standing in the way of Jessica and Wanda’s progress shook and ruffled as if readying themselves for a fight. Thorny branches swatted at Jessica and Wanda as the spray coated the healthy leaves crinkling them to a dead, ugly brown. Jessica dropped the hose of the canister and held her hands on her ears.
“What’s wrong?” Wanda yelled. This wasn’t a one person job.
“They’re—they’re screaming at me to stop!” Jessica’s eyes squeezed shut and she hunched over in a ball.
“What?” Wanda couldn’t believe what Jessica had just admitted to. She could hear them? This didn’t happen a minute ago. Wanda couldn’t hear anything except the sizzle of the leaves as the chemicals fried the greenery. “Jessica—come on—there’s too many of them! I can’t do this by myself!” Wanda backed away from the approaching shrubs to pump the canister again. “Come on, Jess—I need you!” Wanda surprised herself at how desperate she sounded. Desperation wasn’t normally her style. For some unknown reason, this group of shrubs seemed to be more resilient.
Wanda continued trying to hold the shrubs back as Jessica fought to regain her composure. Her hands pressed against her ears as she continued to scream. The will to live bashed Wanda in the head and she screamed at the shrubs, “Stop it! Leave her alone—you bastards!” The stream of chemicals flowing out of the canister seemed to be lessening. Wanda’s chemical supply was low. She ran back to the Jeep. They’d tossed in two more canisters out of Jane’s Hummer before they left. Wanda raced back and stood next to Jessica with a fresh supply. “Come on, Jess. Kill the suckers!” Wanda yelled hoping to refocus Jessica’s brain.
Jessica shook off the mental attack and picked up the hose again. When she pointed her canister hose toward the shrubs, they shrank back before withering and dying in the middle of the street. The trees seemed to be less intimidated by the spray. Jessica stood up straight and began pumping her own canister again. One of the trees thin green branches twirled through the air and swirled its way around Wanda’s middle causing her canister to fall out of her hands. A scream ripped out of her and echoed off the nearby hills. As Wanda struggled trying to fight against the thin, green rope-branch twining its way around her, Jessica pumped her canister with fierce commitment.
“Come on, Jess—you can do it!” Wanda choked out encouragement. The branch lifted Wanda off her feet and traveled toward the middle of the tree where Wanda was destined to be an afternoon snack. Panic set into her bones as she attempted to fight against the tightening grasp. Like any apex predator, once its prey was caught, the hold simply tightened until the prey gave up.
I don’t want to die. The thought assaulted Wanda out of nowhere. As sour as she could be, down deep she wanted to live a little longer. Jessica flashed a purposeful look at her before she commanded.
“Let her go!” She sprayed the trunk of the trees and their roots causing them to cower away. Blood seeped from underneath Wanda’s arms where the bendy green branch dug into the flesh. Jessica sprayed the trunk of the tree gripping Wanda, but its grip loosened only a little. “They’re dying—just a little more should do it.” Jessica attempted to reassure her.
“Can’t breathe,” Wanda whispered. Her head swam with the lack of oxygen to her brain and her consciousness drifted.
Spraying the contents of the canister for another minute stopped the tree and Wanda tumbled to the ground like a ragdoll. Adrenalin pounded through Jessica’s body. She grabbed Wanda’s arms and dragged her back to the side of the Jeep. Lungs fighting for air, Wanda heaved in and out, trying to breathe normally again. They had to get into town ASAP. Wanda wasn’t in any shape to drive at this point. She could have broken ribs or something.
Jessica wasn’t sure if she was strong enough to lift Wanda into the Jeep, but she needed to try. She needed help.
“Wanda.” Jessica patted Wanda’s cheek a little less than a slap. “Hey, wake up. I need you to get in the jeep. We’ve gotta get to town.” Wanda’s under layers of red curls stuck to her face from the intensity of their recent battle. “Can you stand? I can’t get you in here by myself, come on.” Jessica heard a rustle behind her. Another two trees lumbered their way toward her, threatening another onslaught. Jessica yanked Wanda under her arms and lifted as far as she could. Wanda yelped at the pain from several broken ribs and found her feet again.
“Kill ‘em, Jess! We can’t leave any of them alive!” Wanda’s hoarse words stung through Jessica as she pumped the canister. Her arms dangled off her shoulders like wet noodles and tears streamed down her face wondering if she would have the strength to finish off these two predators. Jessica sprayed the last two trees until the threat ceased.
When Jessica stopped spraying, they shared a silent glance and she helped Wanda into the jeep. Wanda hissed through her teeth when she raised her leg and used the ‘oh crap’ handle to pull her weight onto the bucket seat, but said nothing else. Jessica would have to drive now. Once inside and back on the road, Jessica spoke.
“They told me they’d kill you for me.” Jessica said, staring straight ahead, her voice shaky.
“You want me dead?” Wanda smirked.
“After you sliced me up…yeah. I considered it.” For several minutes, the only sounds in the jeep were the engine and the tires rolling over the road. “They said you were evil and you just wanted me dead.”
Instead of reacting in defense of her personality flaws, Wanda’s scientific curiosity rose at the new circumstance. “You mean you’ve got some kind of mental connection with them? That doesn’t make sense. We bled all of the plant material out of you.” Keeping her body straight and stiff against the seat, Wanda only turned her head toward Jessica while Jessica drove.
“But it was a part of my body. They were a part of me. I was…one of them.” Jessica said, shuddering. “But…”
She white-knuckled the steering wheel and squirmed around in her seat uncomfortable, with being so open and honest with Wanda.
“But—?” Wanda led her to finish.
“When you sorta came to my rescue…it changed my mind. For a split second you were like a ….”
“Spit it out, kid.”
“Like a sister!” Jessica spat the words at Wanda and then and turned her eyes back toward the road. “I thought maybe there might still be some good in you after all. That’s why I picked up the canister and killed them.”
“I’m not sure I’m sister material.” Wanda said, staring at the road. Silence settled between them as Jessica drove toward town.
Coming down the hill toward the first red light, a car was sitting at an awkward angle in the road. The open car door turned Jessica’s stomach and she slowed the Jeep approaching with caution. Wanda turned her head a little and scanned out the window while Jessica kept the Jeep on the road, but more in the middle to maneuver around the awkward angle the car sat in blocking the road. A wide shiny spot in the road registered as a large puddle of blood once the Jeep rolled closer to the scene. Shivers overwhelmed Jessica’s body when she realized the Jeep’s tires would have to roll through the blood to move past the abandoned car.
Looking past two more cars whose drivers had shared the same fate, the street pulsated with groups of people screaming and running as a tree picked up a man trying to fight back with a shotgun. The tree lowered the man into the top of its trunk and bit him in half throwing the bloody stump of his torso and legs to the ground. Jessica slammed on her brakes taking in the scene. She’d never seen anything like it, except in a horror movie. All that stuff was fake. This was real.
Another three men came at the tree with chainsaws and began slicing the branches away, but the tree’s other branches could be used as well. The odds stood overwhelmingly against them. The tree took bites of each of the men as if tasting three different flavors of ice cream and trying to decide which flavor to eat first. The crowd screamed as they watched helplessly. The brave men were soon consumed by the tree leaving the chainsaws lying on the ground with their motors spinning, abandoned on the pavement of Main Street.
Jessica stared at the scene and threw the Jeep into park. She knew between them, they only had a canister and a half of weed killer left. Would it be enough?
“What are we gonna do?” Jessica asked Wanda.