Dandelion

The Last Dandelion

Saoirse is an Earthling but the Earth she inhabits is denuded of all vegetation and trees that we take for granted today. A world with only four surviving vegetables and three trees seems impossible but with man’s aggressive intervention that’s where the world is heading. A sci-fi with a wakeup call.    

Saoirse is an Earthling but the Earth she inhabits is denuded of all vegetation and trees that we take for granted today. A world with only four surviving vegetables and three trees seems impossible but with man’s aggressive intervention that’s where the world is heading. A sci-fi with a wakeup call.     

Saoirse was known for stepping off the Mov-RTM so often that her friends had long ago stopped warning her to stay on the Botanical-10 sidewalk. Instead, now her classmates just ignored her whenever she climbed over the railing to wander behind the Genetic Arts building. Away from the constant humming of Mov-RTMs and the chatter of students Chit-ing with their friends, it was a bubble of world far from everywhere else. Her iChipTM didn't even have E-Lellar reception back here.


To be clear, she wasn't skipping Botanical History class. Only taking the long way there. Here, she didn't have to think about memorizing all the basic gene patents. Be alone for a bit. She liked her other classes, in particular Polymer Synthesis. However, plant history bored her out of her skull. Aside from the four extant vegetables and three trees, students were forced to learn about zillions of extinct plants. What was the point of studying dead things when she'd never even see them? Next year, she was required to take Fungal History which she dreaded even more. Sheer torture! There were far more extinct fungi than plants.

She stopped to take a sip from her FiltranTM, and that was when she saw the flash of green. Someone's sweater? Or maybe she wasn't the only student taking an unorthodox route to class. Nope. Too small to be a sweater. Maybe a bracelet?


She reached the spot of green and stared down at it. What in the--?


A tiny green octopus lay squished between two paving stones. Or at least it looked like the interactive model of an octopus she'd seen at the Museum of Natural History. But no one had seen a real octopus for centuries! She stared at the animal but was hesitant to get much closer. After several minutes passed, and the creature didn't move, she began to wonder, "Is it dead?" After all, she remembered that an octopus is supposed to live in water.


Each of the creature's eight legs was a flat and wispy paddle with jagged edges. And in its center were two unusual items on spindly rods. Saoirse didn't remember if the octopus in the museum had any antennae, but this one had two of them. One was a fluffy yellow disk. The other was an opaque spike-y globule.

Saoirse had never seen anything like it! But without E-Lellar reception, she couldn't even ChitTM her friends about what she'd found. But maybe she could take it to them, right? Perhaps one of her teachers could find a way to revive the poor thing.

Saoirse reached out to pluck the octopus from its nest, but when her hand brushed against the spiked globe, she was mortified to witness the antenna disintegrating before her eyes. The tiny white spikes, which she assumed were sharp, were in fact soft, but they blew about and then floated beyond her reach. With a cry of dismay, she turned to regard the remaining antenna -- the round wafer of sunshine that looked like a miniature version of her shaggy yellow bathroom rug. Would it survive with just one intact antenna?

         

Carefully she reached again to pluck the creature from its base. It came up easily, as there was hardly anything for it to hold onto in the stone crevice. The bottom of the creature had a long dirty-white triangular organ hanging from its body. "It must be a male octopus," Saoirse reasoned. As if she carried a delicate art piece made of glass, and being careful not to touch its sensitive organ, she made her way back to the Mov-RTM that took her to Botany Building Number 10.


It was just under a fifteen-minute Mov-RTM walk to the Botanical History classroom, so she was confident she would not be late, even having stopped to collect her animal specimen in situ. She dreamed of the praise she'd receive for finding a rare animal! She was so distracted by her dreams of fame that she forgot to side-step the Mov-RTM junction leading to Human Bio programming buildings. She turned and ran back to the junction; stumbling reached the railing for the Botany-10 Mov-RTM. However, she caught herself from falling at the last moment. Only problem was that she had gripped the octopus so tightly during her run, that she was afraid to see what she had done to it.


She looked down at her tiny trophy in her hand. Gone was the sunny yellow wafer, and in its place was a shriveled white and yellow lump on the end of the crushed antenna. Even worse, the flimsy now-bent green rod oozed a milky substance. Ugh!


Saoirse tossed the creature over her shoulder. However, sticky white goo remained on her palm. She wiped her hand on her pants. And it didn't come off! Why had she picked up such an ugly thing? What if the slime from it was poisonous? Maybe she should have paid more attention in Animal History class. Was her hand itching? Was she going to see red welts appearing on her skin? Did it really come from the octopus's antenna, or was that white gooey substance coming from…? Oh no…its organ!


Panicked, she emptied the contents of her FiltranTM out onto her hand, and got back onto the Mov-RTM that took her to class. Feeling sick to her stomach, but also wiser for the experience, Saoirse vowed to never step off the B-10 track again.

 
Writing with Pen

Aiona Byuwek has lived all over the country from the backwoods of West Virginia, to the snake-filled Mississippi bayou. She now lives and sails where the Skagit and Swinomish tribes are settled.