This is part III in a 3-part sci-fi, fantasy short story detailing how Kalcyphir discovered and cultivated “Pakistani Chitral Kush (PCK)” by mistake because of a miscommunication.
Kal is an immortal being who gets up to silly shit and normally has his very non-immortal friends keep him from getting into too much trouble. Kal experiences time differently and forgoes norms/customs at his own expense to do as he pleases. He’s immortal. He doesn’t care.
I followed the stoned man to a clearing. He rambled to himself, taking a knee at various locations and rubbing the sandy soil between his fingers. He spoke about terpenes and compounds, then took a stick and draw a diagram around the seed mounds. “The water will flow in this order the next time it rains here. IT will rain often once terraforming comes in the 50s. The weed will grow wild here for several decades until the economy gets uprooted.”
A crowd gathered around and we discussed what he knew about the upcoming years.
“Well, not much. I’m here as a favor. Pack light. Eat light. Grow trees,” he said. We spoke for some time about terpenes, specifically diesel. It had absolutely nothing to do with the seeds the traveler planted. He pontificated for several more minutes amused by his strange soliloquy.
I walked toward my team, and noticed a glare in the distance.
My face stung. A bullet grazed the right side of my face. Armed men in worn robes ran toward us, shrieking, from the distance.
Poom! Poom! Drrrrrroot! Drrrrroot! Drrrrrrroot! Pow! Bang!
I lay on the ground, immobilized.
Dust shrouded the dig site.
Wind whooshed past. Tents flapped in the breeze. Dust swirled. The hot, desert sun baked the blowing sand, creating a mirage effect, like heat escaping an industrial pipe.
*This is fiction. I did not experience war or combat during my time in the military. I am not writing this with any meaning other than pure entertainment value. Don’t read too much into it, in case you are. Thanks.*
I peered through the smoke and billowing sand. Three silhouettes approached me. My two managers and the wacko. One of them raised their arm to wave at me.
The back of my head stung. My forehead and teeth stung.
My vision went black. I heard screaming. A man jostled my body. He shook me and called for help.
I felt my body go limp.
Noise and sounds faded into the background.
One last breath.
I faded into a black screen of dreamless sleep.
I woke up on a green cot, staring at the insides of a destroyed medical tent.
Smoking bullet holes shimmered in the wafting fabric.
I was shot in the back of the head.
I sat up next to a flimsy table. There was a dusty glass of water with some sand in it beside me. I drank it and cringed.
“Oh, Kal, you’re awake,” a nurse said, walking toward me. “You fainted after a bullet grazed your cheek. Thankfully, a few senior staff members were there to call for help. No one actually knows who found you. We just heard people screaming for help, and there you were. Tons of blood and even grey matter on the floor. We thought the worst, but no. You were just lying there with a scratch on your cheek. You’re lucky to be alive. Incredibly lucky.” The nurse handed me a pamphlet and my site manager’s notebook. “Marle and Chrono took off together a few days after the shooting. They left with a scientist from another camp. They took the flight to London and should be in New York by now.”
“How many days ago?” I asked. The nurse shrugged.
She smiled at me, “About a month ago, maybe. I am not sure. I dunno’. The scratch on your face put you out of commission for such a long time. It’s hard to say. We tried everything to wake you up. You just didn’t budge. We thought you were faking it at first, but then…” She blushed. Her hands fidgeted. She tapped her pen on her clipboard. “I’ve always— Well, I—“
“I thought you would wake up. I heard that in the morning you–“
“–I what?” I asked.
She looked down. Her shoes scraped the sand. “You drink a specific kind of tea. A very potent kind of tea. So, I made you some. And, well, I tried a little to, sort of, maybe, kind of, check it a little bit. And, the tea made me, uh, glow…” She bit her lip and smiled nervously. Her face turned red. “I didn’t know how to stop glowing, you see. And, well, I had some… ideas. And… I checked your temperature. On your head. With my palms first. I got brighter and got a brighter idea.”
“I see,” I responded. Note to self: fire, then date.
She winked and smiled. “I thought you would wake up. I was so sure of it. I screamed your name and everything! It was incredible!”
I sighed. Not the first and not the last. She’s definitely fired or I’m gonna have to be a full blown creep to keep her away.
“Anyway, they left this journal for you and said something about cultivating this land with seeds.”
She smiled and winked again. She leaned over and grabbed me. Clenching me. She kissed me on the cheek and whispered a joke about cultivation.
I sighed. Oh no. Oh no. I can’t shit where I eat. I took a deep breath and shook my head. I looked up at her with the most awkward grin I could muster.
“You could be my muse. I think I love you,” I said. She’s not buying this. There’s no way. Women can feel things. She knows I don’t mean it. I know I don’t mean it.
She smiled and nodded. “Oh my gosh, you know. Um, sure. I could. I mean, if we were to go steady, I think it would be wonderful.”
Crap. “My mom has to go on dates with us first,” I said. Nice and easy. “My mom approves my girlfriends. All of them!”
“That’s great!” she said, clapping and nearly cheering.
Shit! “I love you!” I announced.
“I love you too. Oh my gosh! – At least as a friend, for now. Until you propose and we get married,” she said, handing over a stack of papers. “They left pretty detailed instructions. I read them and reread them. Short story: The guy brought the wrong seeds. Something about artificial intelligence and phones with apples. “
“I see, global economy. Water sources,” I said while reading. “Satellite internet transmission over large swaths of the sky – interrupting cloud formation and preventing rain, thus causing droughts. Interesting. Mechanical seeds to grow artificial apples.” The notes explain how PRC might have been referencing a country, not a strain. Something about Pakistan, PRC and the seeds of technology.
She handed me the stoned man’s portable phone. Flat, light-weight with rounded edges. “The correct seeds are in this thing.”
I nodded, reading it in the note as the nurse said it. “Plant the holo-seeds in the holo-land. They only grow in Holo-soil. They will produce edible Holo-food.”
“He’s got a way with words. Doesn’t he?” She asked.
I shrugged. “He doesn’t mention anything about powering this thing in his notes.”
This is the end of this story unless anyone wants more of it.
Thank you for reading.
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