Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eighty-second piece of flash fiction in this new weekly series. This week’s piece is a 697-worder by Joy V Smith. This story will be podcasted in episode 30 (with two other stories) on Sunday 28th July.
Introduction to Paper on Pesticide Alternatives (Talk given by Dr. I. T. Saboutime)
There are still too many pesticides being used today. Spraying malathion in Florida thirty years ago to combat the Medfly outbreak decimated insect, bird, and fish populations; suits are still clogging the courts regarding liability.
After fruitless months of research on alternatives, I came across Randall Schwartz’s book, Carnivorous Plants. He states, “Carnivorous plants can be an organic alternative to insecticides. There are plants so efficient that they capture hundreds of ants each day, and others that consume literally thousands of mosquito larvae.”
I studied the 450 species of the passive, semi-active, and active plants. Here are the results of my work. I shall read excerpts from my journal.
Day 1: I bought a selection of carnivorous plants at the University of South Florida–Tampa campus–plant sale. They told me not to fertilize them. Too slow anyway. DNA’s the way to go, I think.
Day 4: I’ve dredged out a boggy area of a little over an acre to have plenty of room, and I ordered a selection of plant, herptile, bird, and animal DNA.
Day 62: Some of the carnivorous plants are reacting to the smorgasbord I’m putting out for them. The bald cypress DNA is working; the knees are spreading quickly, but only in water.
Day 97: Cindy found out what I was doing with the mice and called ALF (the Animal Liberation Front). I wasted two days in the hospital, then three weeks in the wheelchair. The Giant Drosera regiae (a sundew) of South Africa (which originally had leaves two feet long and was already capable of devouring small animals) are getting faster and more aggressive. (Must be the boa DNA.) One nearly got me yesterday, but I beat it off with a crutch. The small ones seem to be clustering in packs; it could be the wolf DNA.
Day 99: Roadkill a la Interstate seems to satisfy them; there should be plenty of that.
Day 146: Made a mistake introducing the stranglar fig DNA, I’m afraid. Pity about Cindy. (By the way, we might have an alternative to cremation here.)
Day 153: Haven’t gotten anywhere with the passive plants. Sulky little brutes.
Day 176: The drosophyllum, which is not a bog plant, is going further afield, and it’s territorial. This worries me.
Day 217: Two agricultural inspectors showed up today. Said they’d been getting complaints. I had to explain that carnivorous plants are often red. It’s caused by the sun. And that the Cephalotus’ mouth always looks like that.
I am sorry about the missing dogs and cats. I wonder… What about a pet plant–something you could give the run of the house. Those roaches certainly are a nuisance, and I haven’t seen any lizards or toads for a long time.
Day 231: It was not a good idea adding cobra DNA to the Darlingtonia californica (the cobra pitcher plant); I wanted to see if that would make it less passive, and it already had the fangs… Well, it certainly worked. If it hadn’t taken so long to get that mongoose DNA special order, there wouldn’t have been a problem. And the inspectors picked then to come back and poke around some more. Why would anyone put his finger into the mouth of a pitcher plant?!
In conclusion, I think confining the plants to Cedar Key is a bit drastic. Just because John Hammond couldn’t control his experiment… I mean, we are talking about plants here.
He noticed the audience staring wide-mouthed at something behind him. Then he heard the rustling. He smiled slightly, fished a fly swatter out of his back pocket, and gently tapped the tendrils curling around his feet. Other tendrils crawled in several directions, exploring the stage. “I told you to wait in the truck,” he said. Almost immediately he relented and pulled a candy bar out of another pocket and handed it down to a searching leaf. “I wanted one I could trust in the house,” he explained. “So I mixed in hummingbird DNA. What a sweet tooth.” He smiled indulgently at the plant beside him as it carefully unwrapped the candy bar.
I asked Joy what prompted this piece and she said…
My sister, Melody, has had carnivorous plants off and on over the years, and she had carnivorous plant books in her plant book library. So I was aware of them–pitcher plants, sundews, etc.–and always being interested in genetic engineering–not necessarily a good thing, of course, but I’ve read a number of science fiction stories about it, including little critters implanted on characters’ shoulders. So I started from her plants and studied her books. A lot of that information is factual, btw–except for the crosses… I have lots of fun writing those kinds of stories.
Very dark, just my cup of tea. Thank you, Joy.
Joy was born on a farm in Wisconsin and still love barns and the smell of silage (“an acquired taste,” she says). She lived in Boston after graduating from college, and is now back in Florida (not retired) where she spent some of her childhood.
After selling wildlife habitat in the country, she bought a foreclosure earlier this year and had to replace the kitchen, among other things. They’d even taken the kitchen sink! Thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which takes place each November, Joy’s now written three novels. She has three blogs:
- Her writing blog: http://pagadan.wordpress.com
- Her media blog: http://pagadan.livejournal.com
- Her house blog: http://pagadan.blogspot.com
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