Virginia Creeper by Edward Ahern

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Leg’s broke, I think. Reach down, shithead, and check. Back’s all twisted. Slow, slow, Ooh. (Scream) Shin bone’s sticking out. Not much blood yet. Can’t move.

“Help!” (ten second pause) “Help!” (Twenty second pause) “Help!!”

Nobody cuts through this ravine but me and some kids. Must’ve fallen off the path. Man this is going to hurt godawful when the booze wears off.

“Help!” Hurts to yell. Must have crunched my chest. What the hell did I fall into? Virginia creeper. All wrapped up in it. How many truckloads of these vines did I rip out when I worked landscaping? Weeds got me covered. Hurt’s coming on.

Sensations. Roots ripped out.. Leaves torn off. Vines snapped. Light blocked.  Oozing. Sap congealing. Refocus growth. Sunlight. Tendrils and pads. Leaves. Vines. Wrapped around warm mound.

Must’ve passed out. Aw, man, I shit myself. Ass crack’s so raw it feels like the skin’s been ripped off. Still can’t move. Leg throbs now, bursting with pain without I even touch it. Ribs screaming at me. Bottle is gone somewhere. Look around. Virginia creeper’s all over me, some poison ivy too, booze could be under any of it.

“Help!” Jesus it hurts to yell. Bugs. Damn bugs are everywhere. Flies. Mosquitoes. It’s the smell of the blood and the crap. And maybe my stink. AGGh. Hurts to move my arms. Can’t wave them away. Feels like my chest bones are snapped. Biting little bastards. Sun’s dropping. Dark soon. Nobody’ll be coming through here tonight.

Light dwindles. Pores closing. Growth slows. Breathing changing. No more day gas. Exhale night gas. Leaves under mound shriveling. Fluids redirect. Animal mound noises. Mound movements stop. Mound warm. Wet against tendrils and sucker pads. Extend tendrils. Grow into wet.

“Hurry up Sammy, it’s freakin’ dark already.”

“You can fall on your ass if you want, I’m getting home slow and clean.”

“Old, drunk Ralph comes through here sometimes. You can wait for him if you want.”

“Shut up Pete. I heard Ralph got thrown out of the Town Tap again last night. Drunken bastard.”

“He really is, Sammy.”


“A bastard. Nobody knows who his father was. Just a crazy bastard. What’s that stink? Smells like somebody took a dump. Ralph probably left a turd for you to step on.”

“Screw you. Stay close. Follow me.”

Passed out again.Hurts. God damn. Ribs, leg. Leg all swole, infected. Must’ve ripped open a nerve. Can’t stand it.(Keening whine of intolerable pain) Light’s coming up. False dawn.  Birds’ll be singing soon. Birds. Bugs. All singing. Stop the pain! Please God, stop the pain!

Burrow. Grow. Climb. Burrow. Grow. Climb. Coagulating fluid. Water containing. Focus tendrils and pads. Absorb. Soft, suppurating animal tissue. Burrow. Absorb. Grow.

(Shrill, constant whimper) Jesus Christ, something’s gotten into my busted leg. Hurts, mother of God hurts even worse. Can’t move any more. (Enamel of clinched teeth begins to crack)

Unknown agony infusion. Rootedness means no retreat. Can’t avoid. To shrivel is death. Counter. Push fluids into warm, nutritious rot.

Ohh. My leg. Numb.  Like a double hit of Oxycontin. Back. Chest. Ass. All still hurt like hell. Hurt. Hurt .Hurt.

Agony still in mound. Pump more sap. Grow into the rich rot..

Ohh. Pain burying itself. Leg throbs like a pile driver, but no feeling except for pressure. Thank you, God. Thirsty. Throat feels like it got toasted. Hungry. Not thinking too good. Jesus, the Virginia creeper’s got me covered up. Nobody’ll see me. Nobody’ll find me. Nobody cares anyway. Losing it. Comfortable numb. Like under flannel sheets and heavy blankets. Thank you.

Hurt fading, then gone. Stop sap outflow. Rot spreading, burrow further. Burrow. Spread. Climb. Burrow. Spread. Climb. Grow.


Footnote: Noted plant scientist Daniel Chamowitz argues convincingly that plants can see, smell and feel, can mount a defense when under siege and warn neighbors of trouble. Many plant genes are part of human DNA.


AUTHOR BIO: Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but after 45 years they are both out of warranty. Ed dissipates his free time fly fishing, shooting, and attending Japanese, German and French language groups.