#FridayFlash Roots and Vines: The Unwanted Gift

Roots and Vines

I woke early this morning, feeling bouncy and refreshed. There were lots of wicked storms through the night, but I slept through them all. I know this only because when I went outside for my morning run, everything was wet and little bits of twigs with green leaves still clinging to them covered the lawn. Most unsightly, but I cranked up the music blaring in my headset, and took off down the road.
Forty-five minutes later, I was sitting at my kitchen table skimming through my Facebook groups, finding nothing interesting beyond the typical barrage of self-promotions and giveaways. Sifting through my emails, I decided I didn’t need to purchase any Viagra today nor did I want the daily Groupon offer. However, I did find one thing that caught my eye.
Someone gifted a book to me.
I was not expecting something like that. It was a pleasant surprise and felt very personal. It didn’t say who the book came from, but I clicked the link anyway to learn more.
The title of the book was “Roots and Vines: The Way Home.” The cover had a very earthy look, complete with a tangle of roots, the ends of which were adorned with old-fashioned skeleton keys. Bloodshot eyes stared out from the middle of the network of roots. The product description didn’t give many clues as to what the book was about.
It proclaimed to be a self-help book and described one man’s journey to finding his destiny. I was feeling so amped up from a great night of sleep and the brisk run that I decided to go for it. It was Saturday and I didn’t have anything planned until later this afternoon.
I wish I knew who sent me this little gem, but I accepted the gift and went to locate my Kindle.
During my search in the cracks of my couch cushions, my BO started to bother me so I went upstairs to shower off the sweat. By then, my stomach was growling, so I made pancakes. A tall stack covered in melted butter and syrup. And sausages—a man needs something to dredge through the run-off mapley goodness.
With a happy tummy, I settled in on the couch for a morning of reading.
“Vines and Roots: The Way Home” popped up on my carousel. The roots depicted on the cover looked mildly creepy, almost like dozens of desperate fingers that seemed so real they could start writhing at any moment.
I took a sip of my tea and flipped the page.
A chill washed over my body when I read the name of the author. Logan Quinn.
That is my name.
I think I would remember writing a book—I hate to write. There was no way it was a coincidence that someone with the same name gifted me a book.
I almost deleted the story right then and there, but how could I? It bore my name and someone was trying to get my attention. I turned the page, not sure what to expect next, that sick feeling of dread was swimming around in the stomach acids with my breakfast.
It was the cover again, only this time the keys were sparkling. Glistening even, as if they were all wet. The roots were different somehow as well too; more were crowded in, cramming into every square inch of the screen.
I flipped the page, feeling a bump in the bulging screen.
The cover again, but the title was gone, most likely buried in the roots. The roots were thicker and higher, pressing up against the glass and straining.
A narrow crack, like a bolt of lightening, etched across the face of my Kindle.
Tiny tendrils were pushing through the narrow fissure, twisting around as if sniffing the air.
I dropped the Kindle, leaping off the couch. Backing away from whatever was happening, making my way toward the front door. More of the thick cords were slithering from my Kindle, shattering the screen.
Dozens of roots were sprouting forth, feeling their way along the carpet. From the center of it all, a tree started to rise, like a missile slowly leaving a silo. It rose, crashing into the ceiling fan, sending light-bulb glass and fan blades flying across the room. The thick trunk muscled into the drywall, tearing up and out of site.
The roots were pitching the keys, embedding them into the walls. As more keys flew through the air, I did my best to dodge the small projectiles. One hit my stomach and fell to the floor.
Several of the roots snapped like whips, grabbing my ankles. Jerking me down on my ass. Then dragging me toward the massive pile of roots at the center of it all. Scrambling like an idiot, I managed to get a hold of one of the legs of the couch, but it just slid along the hardwood floor and started moving with me.
I reached for one of the many keys littered on the floor as we were propelled forward.
I slammed against the towering tree trunks, the bark bit deep into my back and legs, vines coiled around me, binding me like a witch about to be burned at the stake.
Hands pressed tightly to my sides, I could feel the key slip from my fingers. I don’t know why that upset or what I thought I could do with one of those keys, but I was angry to be loosing a symbolic comfort item.
Then I fell backward, into the tree. I don’t know how else to explain it, I could only compare it to standing on the edge of a pool and letting yourself fall back. Into darkness.
“Hello?” I called out.
My eyes slowly adjusted to the thick hot black all around me, but there wasn’t really anything to see. I was in a narrow cylinder. Something crunched under my feet. I couldn’t stoop to find out what was but it had to have been my ruined Kindle.
A terrible groan echoed from the bowels of the tree. The darkness rumbled back.
A small pin hole of light opened in front of me, leaning forward I looked closer, seeing it was a keyhole.

Erik Gustafson
Word Count 1041


13 thoughts on “#FridayFlash Roots and Vines: The Unwanted Gift

  1. Ouch. Will the pass through the keyhole? What is it a glimpse into? Self, perhaps. And I know what you mean about the never ending self-promotions on FB…It has become a ‘me, me’ culture. Never mind, there are some things worth reading.

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