The Dancing Plant of Questionable Whims stood calmly, as if in sullen defiance of its name. Looking like a combination of a ficus and a cuttlefish, a slow, undulating pattern of bioluminescence ran along its exterior. I watched, frustrated, as the blobs of light settled at the base of its trunk, near where its tendrils met the dirt. It wanted nothing to do with me.
Recalling earlier, unrelated successes with a particular technique, I poked it with a stick. No response. My frustration grew into annoyance. If I couldn’t get this thing to move, I’d be in deep s**t.
“Plant,” I said, doing my best to sound encouraging, rather than irritated. No response. I prodded it again with the stick. The chromatophores I’d perturbed shifted into yellow momentarily, but then turned back to the uniform dark green of the rest of its bulk.
“Plant, please,” I sighed. I slumped onto the mossy ground wondering why my luck always had to be so awful.
My professor, Dr. Rogerworthy Meatus, had tasked me with finding a Dancing Plant of Questionable Whims and cajoling it back to the university for further study. The plant was a newer breed of hybrids following the Realm Integration. Most hybrids never developed beyond a cluster of cells. This particular plant, though, a hybrid of flora and fauna from both the Earth Realm and the Other, appears to have thrived – albeit in small numbers.
“Plaaaaaaaaant,” I whined. I jumped to my feet in frustration and pulled on one of its tendrils. Color and light shot across its body. It rustled.
With new enthusiasm, I pulled another tendril. Same effect. It rustled for a little longer and shifted its weight back and forth. This had to be the ticket. With both hands, I grasped handfuls of its tendrils and pulled. The Dancing Plant of Questionable Whims began to dance with me.
Round and round, back and forth – I held the plant’s tendrils and we twirled around the small clearing. More color and light streamed across its trunk and its tendrils thickened and gripped my hands. I began to laugh. I’d never danced like this before.
Our pace reached a fevered pitch and I held on for dear life while we spun and stepped over logs and rocks and roots while squnnies and butterfoxes ran and hid. The scenery blurred and the lights and colors on the plant all converged in one spot and shot downward. Everything stopped. The plant froze in place, the light and color bright and brilliant on the trunk behind the tentacles. It shuddered violently.
I never saw it coming.
An eruption of sticky, white sap exploded from the tendrils, covering and soaking me from neck to knees. I fell backward in horror and disgust as the plant shimmied in a way I can only describe as coquettish before rooting itself back into the mossy ground.
Two hours later, after I’d given up trying to get all the sap off me, I attempted to get the plant to move with me again. It didn’t. I thought of my professor. There’s no way I’d be able to complete his task. I began the long walk back to the university, realizing I’d just been outwitted by a plant; a plant whose whims were no longer in question.