A Scientist’s Dream
“We’ve always been about sustenance,” says the spokes-plant, “since the Beginning.”
“Yes,” I say, “and you were here before we were, hoping to say the right thing to these plants that, just a few minutes ago, dragged me from my lab into this what? Plant World?”
“We feed every living thing from the time they begin to breath,” says the stumpy Palm Tree, the one chosen to speak to the captive – me.
I was having a dream, you see, about a discovery – the kind of dream scientists dream of having; and these fucking plants ripped me out of my dream and now, well, I’m not dreaming anymore, or so it seems.
“Yes, sir, I understand,” I say not really knowing what to say, “In fact the photosynthesis process I’ve studied my entire life is the reason I have the job I have.
The plants, and all I can make out are shapes, tall ones, short ones, spicy, weedy, fruity, pulpy ones, all shaking their leaves. I realize that my biology vocabulary got lost somewhere. The sounds have my attention fully, because they stream in one direction and another, much like the voices and noises coming from human crowds.
The Palm Tree puts its “eyes” on me, then a lanky, long-leafed plant, that for some reason I know is a “Medicine Plant,” slides up next to Palm Tree. She leans in toward Stumpy.
Stumpy, apparently translating her whispers, speaks, “She says humans are entitled buffoons and pompous narcissists.”
This could get nerve racking. “Wait,” I say, “Buffoon? I received my first science award in the sixth grade. My parents were NASA originals and my career in biology is well documented.”
Immediately I wish I had thought about that a little bit. Talk about foot in mouth. Medicine Plant leans in again.
The stumpy Palm Tree says, “Do you see what I mean?”
My mind imagines for a moment the prospect of proving plants can talk, but then I worry they read minds, too. I mean, look where they have me.
And again, she leans in, flaps a leaf or two. Stumpy translates, “Of course we read minds, Buffoon.”
I really couldn’t argue with that right now, so I threw out an indignant, “What?”
Then Medicine Plant leans toward me. Turns out she flaps English, too. “How do you think Earth has survived humans this long?”
My moral button pushed, I found some energy, “But we’re not destroyers, not us scientists anyway, and we feed people like never before on this planet.”
“Yet more than ever are starving,” she replies.
“OK, there’s that, but that’s just humans confusing feed and greed.”
I thought I was rather clever saying that, but this lady plant had another agenda. She answers, “So fattening people on GMO production while their mind and body lose their innate abilities, you believe, will save the world?”
I couldn’t say much to that. GMO was the price of getting the money we needed to continue biological research.
She adds, “You’ve done enough in the name of this ‘research.’”
“We really try, really, to use your gifts well,” I say, wondering why it all upsets me so. Thought I’d already reconciled these issues some time ago.
Now panic comes, I want to cry even, “Why do you have me here? Hell, this isn’t even possible. This will ruin me!”
The Plant People flap their leaves a bit, not toward me but among themselves. Slowly my gasps for breath subside into short grunts.
Palm Tree, mercifully, says something, “We have a message for your science, but it’s so simple that we wonder how you haven’t figured it out yet,” followed by more flapping from the Plants.
“You humans are so smart,” adds Medicine Plant.
Ok, that sounds safer, but now I have to deal with the observation that Plants have a sense of humor, sarcasm, in fact. I respond, “Is it something we don’t understand, got wrong? Is the GMO worse than we think?
Medicine Plant responds with some firm flaps, then says, “You haven’t missed anything, on the contrary, you’ve learned so much, you’re dangerous.”
“And dangerous you’ve been since you learned you could reproduce,” adds Stumpy the Palm Tree.
I think I’ll have to ask what that means someday, then I remember this isn’t real. I need to get out of here. “So, do you want us to stop something?” which could be easier said than done in my lab.
“Oh, you won’t stop anything until the big change comes, but meanwhile our message could make things easier…” says Medicine Plant.
“By ‘big change’ you mean the inevitability of the human suffering that’s coming, in truth, no matter what we do.”
I am, after all, a scientist. We can’t deny it any longer, global warming, GMO and other mutation work going on all over, crisis with water and list is a long one. True, unfortunately, it’s all coming, at this point, no matter what we can do to slow it down.
Palm Tree says, “Now you’re getting warm, Human.”
Then he turns his trunk slightly toward Medicine Plant and says, “I never thought he’d get there.”
I can’t wait for this, “Is it about how to produce more?”
“All these things tie in, of course, but they are from your point of view. Ask from your heart, Scientist,” says Medicine Plant, “the only question most humans miss.”
I’m giving up here. What do they want from me? In the most pathetic, meek way I’ve ever had to perform, I hang my head and ask, “How?”
The next moment brings panic again when the Plant People go into a leaf flapping storm. When the sound becomes disturbing, Medicine Plant slaps a long leaf on me that brings, surprisingly, a most profound calm.
“What did I do?” I say.
“You asked ‘How?’” says Palm Tree as the flapping decreases to a whisper.
My own clarity shocks me when I know that I shouldn’t be asking about higher production, GMO corrections, no, no; those questions just won’t do. I speak loud and clear, “How do we save the Earth?”
I never expected what came next and to this day I am not the same person. Get this image.
Medicine Plant says, “Yes!”. She unroots herself with a little hop and then with a dive she goes in my mouth. Before I have a chance to start choking, I’ve swallowed her whole.
I awake, slumped over my desk, morning slobber on the foam box of Chinese food, dripping onto a budget request.