's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Mother Vine II "

Submitted by Prophet Storm

Mother Vine, Part Two

Hi, doc. I never really expected you to be analyzing me. Granted, I'll bet you never thought you'd be on this case, huh?

Well, I went to Africa with him...with the sergeant. He got increasingly agitated with each passing day, ranting about the Mother-Vine, and how it was an evil force of nature, not a plant, but something inside the plant, something that controlled it and spread to all plants and animals that crossed its path. The more I heard, the less I was convinced that he was sane enough to be a guide, but there was no second-guessing, no inconsistencies in his sense of direction, so we trekked on further into the jungle.

The first village was by far the worst. Oh, my word, it was awful. Hundreds of people, lying on the ground, suspended in the air by vines, their skin was pale, it was like, white, but it had a green oil it was secreting, oh my word, awful, their eyes--where were their eyes?! Their eyes were gone and these awful red flowers had burst out of their eye sockets! I heard their voices but they weren't there, I don't know what was going on, their tongues were hanging out on their chests, they couldn't have actually been speaking, oh kill me now...I...!

That you, doc? Sorry. When I think about it too hard I get a little antsy. Thanks for the water. I'll remember only to sip it slowly. I told you about what happened to the sergeant.

They were all dead. The vines had reached the village. All the plants--even those cut up and dried as huts, even those that didn't normally bear flowers, even the logs in the fire pits, had begun bearing those nasty little red flowers. They smelled like burnt copper. Oh, the smell of blood..I think I need to throw up.

In the center of the village there was a large bush, out of which rose a tree. It was covered in the flowers, in Ascarina Materna, and it had a ring at its base, a ring of tendrils that sort of waved around in the wind. I asked him if it was the mother, he said no, it wasn't big enough. Didn't stop him from torching it, though. ****, that crazy son-of-a-gun--didn't even know he brought the gasoline! Said there were two more cans in the Jeep for the main tree. But what worried me was when it exploded. As it burned, it started shrieking--holy cats, I never want to hear that sound again, I hear it in silence, that's why I always have the Beethoven on--and then it exploded. Boom! Blood everywhere. At least, I think it was blood, it could have just been the pigment dying the xylem or phloem or whatever stuff those plants have in their respiratory systems, I can't keep track...

We made camp that night. He made me promise that no matter what happened, no matter what he said, I would go through with burning the thing. I promised. After seeing what that thing could do, I had no problem promising.

The next village was worse.

They apparently knew what they were up against. They'd built huge walls, stone walls five feet thick and easily thirty high. Outside the walls, they had a trench of a fire pit, the soil was blackened by years of fires. But the vines had broken through the walls. They'd burrowed underground and burst out like titanic weeds, coming up in the middle of huts, gardens, fire pits, impaling people, ensnaring them in webs as the vines knit together like living, thinking things. Again, here, the people's eyes were gone. The flowers in their place. Their mouths, too. No tongue, just a huge, meaty, glistening-wet flower as the tongue had apparently split apart. Oh, it was awful I've never seen such horrible things, I can't unsee them, oh kill me kill me kill me...!

I can control it this time, doc. They've got me on some...oh, you know. What is it called? It's not morphine is it? No? Okay.

In that village, peoples' skins had started to be replaced by some woody barklike substance. The vines had even tried to pose them in mockup scenes of everyday life, like it had taken on their minds by killing them. It was bizarre.

We torched the whole place. This time we didn't need the gas, they still had all that wood for the fire-trenches. We tossed it around, dry rotting wood being a perfect fuel, and a little dribble of gas being just a catalyst for a blaze that lit the sky as we went on our way.

The third village was like a unique, personally-tailored splinter of hell.

I mean it. The plants had been overcome. All of them. Totally. What had been squashes had turned into these trees. People were encased in trunks, their entire skulls opening out into flowers, eyes and tongues protruding obscenely and firmly from their spines.

There was no real evidence of a village--all the huts and fire-pits had been wiped clean. We didn't even stop there. We didn't even get out of the Jeep. We just tore through.

Then we found it.

Apparently, years ago, there had been one white flower. They go pale, just like humans, when they're low on blood. But now there was a gigantic, black trunk, easily fifty feet tall, with bloodred leaves and flowers. All the plants around it were mother-vine saplings. At its center was this unholy maw--a gigantic, flowerlike mouth. I never heard the sergeant scream. He probably didn't.

I looked over and he was already being torn into by those horrible vines. One jammed into his back, another into his side, as a trunk came up under him, impaling him. I watched his eys fall out, suspended by the optic nerve, as flowers burst out of the sockets. I watched his tongue jet out to two feet as his entire skull split open, spraying blood everywhere. The flowers burst out all over him, bathing me in his blood. Then I heard it.

Dr. Allan. Don't make me remember it. Don't make me.

It told me to join it. I couldn't. But I knew I only had one chance at killing it. So I gunned the jeep's engine and got the flare gun, and as I watched our vehicle careen into the thing's mouth I fired in a flare after it, but Dr. Allen--the thing wasn't even hurt. Just angry. I'll never forget the sergeant's hands, split from the inside as the bones were processed and lengthened, lunging at me to apprehend me and force me into that monstrous thing. I ran as far and as fast as I could. But the vines kept tripping me up, the flowers kept bursting wherever I ran, spraying me with blood.

I got back to the village we landed, and passed out. I woke up here, not two days ago. Dr. Allan. I'm not crazy, am I? I can help more people, can't I? I can help them with their minds...I'm Dr. Lawrence, no, I'm Dr. Harold...THOMAS! THOMAS O'RILEY! THOMAS O'RILEY! THOMAS O'RILEY! THOMAS O'RILEY! THOMAS O'RILEY!

Dr. Thomas O'Riley, MD. I...I can help people. Please let me. I don't want to be here forever. I can help people. They can't be allowed to spread. Don't allow them to spread. I feel one. I didn't want to say, but I feel one inside me. You've got to burn me. The chair, or a lethal injection might work, but burning me is the only way to make sure!

Burn me! Burn me! Do it for Powell! Do it for King! Do it for the villages! Do it for me! Burn me!

Have you ever spoken with forests? Seen the souls of flowers?

...Burn me.

Have you ever seen the souls of flowers? Little red flowers?