Thursday, February 25, 2010

Split Watermelons

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Always Follow Safety Protocols" in Mirror Shards.

Ross Mullins entered the UCDavis greenhouse amidst dark green leaves that towered off the pots on the tables and reached over his head into the rafters. The plants wove around the lights and left shadows that crisscrossed the floor. Incompetent University cops couldn't deal with a dead body on their turf. So this was the second death in as many weeks that didn't mean they needed to call in the FBI. It was a waste of time and Ross wasn't surprised that the campus cops couldn't even be bothered to accompany him to the body.

Ross shouldered his way through broad leaves that were larger than his upper arms. He stepped over a thick green vine that draped down a table and slunk into the shadows below another table. The humid air smelled of bamboo that reminded Ross of Vietnam.

The light grew brighter ahead and Ross discovered that the light came from an empty table where nothing grew. A man, Professor Brooks according to the campus cops, sprawled on the floor before the table. A slit in his skull stretched from ear to ear and his blood pooled across the floor.

Ross saw a watermelon, slightly larger than Professor Brooks's head, that had fallen just outside the pooled blood and its outer rind was split in two and the red fruit and seeds splattered across the floor. The watermelon was still attached to its vine which stretched away to one of the faraway tables.

The cops had said that Brooks and his colleagues were researching a new strain of self-sufficient vegetables. Ross squatted down by Professor Brooks body and the watermelon. Professor Brooks couldn't have just fallen. It took more than a simple fall to break someone's skull open like that. But premeditated murder by a watermelon? It just didn't make sense, thought Ross.

He put his finger in the crack of the watermelon's rind and noticed that the red flesh was dry. The watermelon had cracked open prior to Brooks' death.


Ross stood and turned. He couldn't see the path where he had entered. Three watermelons scraped along the floor using the leafs to leverage themselves forward. Ross backed away from the trio. The leaves behind him wrapped themselves over him. He felt cool tendrils prickling through his dress shirt.

Ross drew his revolver and shot the three watermelons and pink innards splashed across the floor. The susurration of the plants increased and Ross pushed his way through the leaves as they grabbed at him. His shirt ripped. The plants began to grow thorns and he raced through them and blood dripped down his arm. He saw the door and ran for it and tripped just before he arrived but his momentum carried him to the door where he crashed against the glass side and rolled out into the cool night. Ross wobbled when he stood and weaved towards his car where he slumped in the seat before calling the campus police.

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