by Kathryn A
Cally and a carnivorous plant on Saurian Major.
Written for b7friday (challenge of 24-06-2005), the request of redstarrobot, "Cally and a carnivorous plant on Saurian Major"
Alone and silent.
There were too many to bury. The poison had taken them all in the course of a day and a night. It was easier to take supplies and hide them, than to bury the bodies. Besides, if she did, the Federation would know that someone had survived. She knew that they would send someone eventually; someone to count the bodies. She knew the count. She knew the names of the dead. There was none left but her to remember them.
She spent a fitful night, in a small cave not far from the rebel camp, dreaming of cold grey faces, empty eyes staring at her in a world gone dumb.
She woke up to a feeling of contentment, satiation. She stretched languidly before she realised that the feeling was not her own. What? She crept to the opening of the cave and peered down to the disguised camp below. There was no movement, but something was alive down there. She sensed a simple mind, driven by instincts for food, water, procreation. A simple mind, but alien. It was content, because it had just eaten well.
Horror gnawed at the edges of her death-numbed soul when she realised what it was that the alien creature must have just eaten. Saurian Major was full of deserts with poor soil. Many of the plants were carnivorous. A dead human body would be a feast.
"Noooo!" she screamed, running down the scree slope with no regard for caution or sense. Noooo!
She could feel its startlement, even before she saw it, red-brown fleshy leaves and roots twined about one of the bodies sprawled in the open on the edge of the camp. It whipped its' flower-like crest around to face her, and radiated wariness.
She was surprised in turn. It was a red-beeble, classified harmless, and taken by some to be a sort of mascot. Evans had claimed that they rattled whenever Federation patrols came near, but everyone had laughed at him.
Why had it gone after a human? It was unheard of.
The plant cringed before her anger, and started twining away from the body.
Away from the body. It hadn't gone after a human. It had gone after carrion. Because it had already known that the human was dead; that they were all dead.
Her protective shell of numbness cracked. She fell to her knees and started to cry. She put her face in her hands, trying to stifle her sobs, but they burst from her anyway.
Something brushed against the back of her hands, and with it, came a feeling of concern. Was she wounded? Was she hungry? There was plenty of food to share.
It was the plant. She blinked at it, swaying in front of her. Why had she never sensed its sentience before? Probably because it had been masked in the chatter of all those human minds, all those minds now gone.
Gone forever. What need did they have for their bodies now? They had been destined to rot, rot or be cremated if the soon-to-come Federation patrol decided to burn the disease-cursed camp when they found it. Why should she begrudge the red-beeble its sustenance? One last useful thing their bodies could do.
Thank you, she thought at it. Thank you and welcome.
She knew what she would do now. Hide the weapons and ammunition, and just enough food and water. Wait, until the Federation found the camp and thought them all dead; and then she would attack the complex, give herself companions for her death.
Because now there would be one being left to remember her.
She would die, but not alone, and not silent.