We Can Grow Squash Here, Jon
In a part of the world where you’ve never been, a meadow glows. With tulips and carnations and lilies and fragrant flowers of which I don’t know the names. The flowers brush against each other when the wind comes. The wind that travels along the Gobi, runs its wispy fingers through the deep Sahara, wind that carries sand, dust, and small particles of earth. Wind that carves away at cathedrals and mosques alike, erodes pyramids to the simplest blocks. The flowers sway, live, and don’t cause harm.
Slithering along, chasing a strong easterly gust, comes a creature upon the meadow. Its legs are numerous and of octopi, with the arms of man, and its face hidden behind a plastic devil mask. The ancient sword it wields, what looks to be a falcata, swings from hand to hand, the creature eager to begin.
Onto the meadow of flowers it wiggles, the octopus legs squirming ahead and behind. Down the creature thrusts its arm, the falcata’s dull blade slicing at the necks of the tulips, dashing the heads of lilies. Methodically, the creature decimates the meadow of its flowers until none remain standing. The color, the glow, it vanishes from the land.
And the creature feels unfinished. So it pushes its body forward and, with the old sword held high then brought down, the beast slashes at the grass, over and again, until every blade of grass is dead. And soon, the meadow is bare, nothing green left behind.
The creature surveys its destruction. Unsettled, unfinished, still. It moves over the dirt, cutting into earth, slicing and swiping and slashing and stabbing and desperately wanting to see the dirt be gone.
When it is done, and the ground is torn apart and thrown there and here in violent heaps, the creature resigns itself, feeling satiated and satisfied. It kneels and whispers a word of gratitude to the falcata. The beast stands tall and continues on, snaking through a wall of trees, and disappears, sword and tentacles dragging.
It is days later when two farmers named Jon find their way to the edge of the meadow. Their eyes scan the brutal field.
From under his wide-brimmed hat, Jon asks, ‘Well, my god, what ya think happened here, Jon?’
Jon nods his head. ‘I know what this is. Sure I do.’ He wipes the summer sweat from his sunburned scalp, thinking for a minute.
Without the buzz of bees and thrumming beats of crickets and other bugs, the meadow is a silent vacuum.
Jon gets impatient. ‘How bout ya don’t keep a man waiting? What ya know, Jon?’
Jon raises his eyes to the sun, but shields them from the blinding light. ‘Sun’s gonna boil my bald head today, boy,’ he says.
‘Fella, I don’t care bout ya head. Tell me what ya know. What did this?’ Jon asks again, gesturing to the destroyed meadow.
‘Wasn’t no man did this, if ya care. Was a monster. Something I seen a few times.’ Jon swipes the sweat pouring down his cheeks.
Jon looks about, anxiously. ‘I seen a monster a couple times too, Jon.’
Jon watches his friend. ‘Probably seen the same monster. Squid legs. A man’s hands. Ya seen that?’
Jon sidles up closer to Jon. ‘The same! What else ya know?’
Jon finds himself thinking. ‘Just things I heard. Heard the monster was once a man. But, that could be talk. Course, all this could be talk.’
Jon waits for his friend to continue.
‘Yeah, I heard it rips up these fields. Yet at the same time, I hear it was born in these fields. Heard it could be both.’
‘Both? How’s it gonna be both?’
Jon shakes his head, sweat beading on top. ‘I never claimed to know the mind of a monster.’
‘No, I figure not.’ Jon leans down to pick up a tulip bulb.
‘It wears a mask. Ya seen that when ya seen it?’
Jon flicks the dead tulip from his hand. ‘No, never really seen its face. Too busy running the other way.’ They both laugh at that.
‘I understand that, Jon. Sure do. But, it does. Wears a mask. Not sure what it’s hiding. I heard things, though.’
Jon pulls down his hat’s brim. ‘What’s it hiding, Jon?’
Jon gazes down at the tulips and carnations scattered around his boots. ‘Got a face full of flowers, that’s what I heard. Eyes like these here tulips and full lips of lilac.’
‘Then what’s it coming here for? Killing everything? Doing this to its own home?’
Jon stares far across the meadow, into the woods beyond. ‘Don’t know. Don’t seem to make much sense to me. But, most things are too much for me to understand anyhow.’
‘Sure! Me too,’ agrees Jon.
‘Funny thing is,’ says Jon, ‘it wrecks this meadow, sure, but that monster tills it too. Mucks it all up, but we can grow something here, Jon. Ya see?’
‘Been thinking that since we got here.’ He crouches to wade the tips of his fingers into the rich soil.
Jon turns. ‘I’ll get my gloves, Jon. Maybe we can grow pumpkins, something good, squash even.’
Walking away, Jon wipes his face, the mask of sweat coming down.
Sean Patrick Whiteley is a 29-year-old writer, living in Revere, Massachusetts, with his wife, Michelle. When he isn’t doodling or reading Disney World guidebooks, his wife is forcing him to go for walks and experience sunlight. His fiction has been featured in The Furious Gazelle, Obra/Artifact, and on the No Extra Words Podcast. Find him online at seanpatrickwhiteley.com or tweet him @SeanPWhiteley