The front door banged open, flooding the house with cold air; the loud pounding of boots on the linoleum floor of the entranceway and muffled shouts reached the living room.
"Dear me!" cried the African violet – a sickly looking plant with browning leaves, "it can't be the end of another cycle already!"
The fern perked up. "The end of what cycle, Vie?" it asked. The fern was rather new to the house, and was still getting used to things, though it had already been attacked five times by Sniffles, the family cat. It looked from the violet to the motionless cactus sitting happily on the furnace register. Thinking perhaps that it had not been heard, the fern began again, "What cycle?"
"It's a solstice ritual, I think," Vie said sadly, "I don't know how they can possibly live with themselves…"
Sensing that there was no more of an answer to be found here, the fern turned to the cactus. "George?"
The spiky plant didn't move or give any sign that he'd heard.
Vie tutted disapprovingly. "Come now, Fern," she chided, "He's a cactus. Everyone knows that cactuses can't talk."
There was considerably more grunting reaching the living room now, the footsteps drawing closer to the room. Soon enough the plants' keepers had walked in, bearing between them a large pine tree bound tightly in netting.
Fern gasped. "No!"
"It gets worse, Fern, much worse…Oh, this is just the tip of the earthworm."
The trio of plants watched in silence as the tree was set into some sort of pot – not unlike what they were each sitting in now – though it was far too small to hold it. Horror stricken they watched as their keepers drove long screws tightly into the trunk to hold it there. The taller of the keepers – the one referred to as 'Allan' on numerous occasions – disappeared into one of the other rooms and came back with a large pitcher of water which was poured into the strange pot.
"It's one of their torture devices," Vie whispered to Fern with a tone of great certainty.
"How awful! Have they ever used one on you?" Fern asked, terrified.
The answer – should Vie have been offering it – was interrupted as the smaller keeper – this one had been called many things, 'Janice' seemed to be the most predominate – began to walk towards the plants. Janice shouted something to the other keeper, and even the plants could tell that they weren't pleased. The answer given by the larger keeper was clearly unsatisfactory, but Vie and Fern could only watch in horror as George was snatched by the pot from the register and hoisted high into the air.
He was gestured with violently by the keeper, little grains of sand spraying onto the pair of plants below, before he was set down on his customary window sill.
"George, are you alright?" Fern called up to him.
There was no reply, though the cactus' thorns seemed to droop slightly.
"Don't worry about him, it happens a lot. Janice seems to have a problem with George sitting there. Anything that makes any one of us comfortable... It's just not allowed. I'm telling you, this place is hell." Vie shook her leaves sadly.
Deciding that there was apparently no harm done to George, Vie and Fern turned back towards the helpless, unfortunate pine tree. The netting had been cut away, allowing its branches to spring free. Allan held a long string that seemed to be made up of tiny spots of multicoloured light; this was wrapped around the tree which quivered and shook, shying away from the strange lights.
"What are they…?" Fern asked, unable to keep the awe from her voice.
Vie sniffed disapprovingly, just as she always did when Fern seemed to like some of the things done to them by their keepers. "Those are a complex device designed to hurt the tree," she said with disgust.
"But they look so pretty..." Fern sighed.
"Don't be stupid, Fern," Vie snapped. "Do you think they'd do something like this for the sheer decoration factor? They're evil! No... No, just you wait."
Fern shied away slightly from the violet, shooting a worried sideways look at the browning plant.
They watched the rest of the apparent ritual in silence. The pair of keepers brought out a large box filled with strange shiny orbs which they began to hang off of the branches of the tree. The strange baubles reflected the light in all directions making the room shimmer in an oddly pleasant manner.
Once Allan and Janice had left to go do whatever it was they did when they weren't in the plants' room, Vie gave a disapproving snort. "Now do you see? Do you see how evil they are? Just look at what they've done to that tree!"
There was a rustling and clinking of the shining orbs. "Excuse me," said the tree, "I have a name you know."
Fern and Vie jumped and stared at the tree. "You can talk?" Fern asked, astonished.
"Of course I can," the tree cried, shaking its branches and causing the bright spheres to wave and bounce on its limbs, "And I would appreciate if you called me Jesus."
"Hay-Zeus..." Fern said, testing the name out, "interesting."
Jesus looked around his new lodgings, "Fascinating place you've got here. Much nicer than where I've been in for the last couple weeks."
"Oh you won't think that for long," Vie muttered. "This place is horrible." She shook her browning leaves irritably. "When you see what they do..." she shuddered.
Fern sighed, "Give it a rest, would you, Vie? You're so paranoid."
"It's not paranoia, it's the truth!"
"Sometimes I just wish you'd shut up!" Fern snapped. "You're always so gosh darn negative."
"Oh, like-" Vie broke off suddenly as Allan walked back into the living room, pitcher of water in hand. He sauntered over, his great feet shaking the floor beneath their pots. He stopped and looked at Vie before shouting an inquiry to Janice in the kitchen who replied with a call of: "Toss it."
Vie screamed in terror as she was snatched from the floor. She didn't stop until she was taken out of the room. A long, shocked silence followed.
"You know," George said from his vantage point on the windowsill, shocking Fern and Jesus almost out of their stands, "I never understood what she was complaining so much about."
Just a random and very short, short story for Creative Writing class this year. It was received positively. Thought I'd post it.