Death Garden of the Lawful Malcontent
A GreenPunk Story by WilliamJJackson
Alec waged war against the foliage. Broad leaves of shiny green, dense as an old rain forest from the movies, pushed back as much as he shoved ahead. Thick vines wrapped up in smaller versions of themselves tripped up him and his lanky old pal Collins. But they fought on. Past the gnarled cacao trees. Beyond the curtain of ivy ensnaring their limbs. Onward to the goal.
The goal? Open space. Found! Alec Siefer and Collins McKay, once impeccable in Mandarin collar suits with the new fangled AI pocket squares aglow, suits wet from humidity and perseverance, exited the victorious jungle. Alec stomped his foot to hear the reverberating clang again.
"Metal walkway! How did it vanish so completely, and what kind of purebred idiot would be dumb enough to let this death garden grow so out of control?" He wiped sap, tree spit, from a sleeve.
Collins, sure to scratch himself to death, coughed on purpose as he slapped on yet another antihistamine patch.
"I hate when you cough to make me notice something," Alec growled, "so very passive aggressive. Speak up! Who or what?"
"Mmm? Someone not happy, I take it?" posed the who or what from across the way. She rose from a squatting position, an orange-brown woman with a solid form, tight pants and loose crimson blouse, low cut. Black and dark brown hair, light on the curls, blew in the breeze. She tended to some variety of flora at the other end of this enclosed arboretum.
Alec wrinkled his nose. "Are you Siggy Soltero?"
"Casiguaya Soltero," she announced, thick Hispanic accent, an index finger raised for emphasis, "Siggy is what my friends call me. You are?"
"My apologies," Alec corrected himself fast, ever prompt with the manners.
"You are the one, right? The Battle Gardener of the Amazon?" Collins couldn't hide the awe in his voice if he'd been paid to.
Miss Soltero turned to face the sweaty entourage. Her face, pretty and young, a faint scar divided her left eyebrow. Eyes coffee ground dark studied them. "I sell my babies to some South American countries, or what's left of them. I make good money and have the highest civic points spread. And, yeah, when they try to level my work, I battle." She pursed her lips, and then returned to caring for a potted, colorful heliconia.
Alec, ever the techie, put his square to good use. Out came the holographic news footage. "Your claims are quite the understatement, Miss. Digitimes dubbed you the Battle Gardener after the Peruvian War killed off the Amazon. Lush life from radioactive death zones. Plants radiate levels humans can't take, like wolves near old Chernobyl, but it grew up big. You then went on to train other battle gardeners, but none are as good as you. No offense."
"None taken." She meandered about the hologram, watching the many brief images as if she were observing someone else's life. "Ah. The Peruvian War. It started as a war between the nuclear bigwigs ended, and stalled as the war with the Arabs and Europe blew out over Africa and the Black Sea. War, war, war. Kill, take, beat. We seize and leave behind wreckage. Nature seizes too, but builds wonders over and around the death, even from it. When will we learn?"
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