's 2016 Horror Write-off:

Photosynthesizing for Two

Submitted by Anonymous

Imagine that you are afraid.

No, not yet. Wait. Let's start from the beginning.

You woke up this morning, as you so often do, and you started plodding through your daily motions. You didn't know it then, but something was different on this morning; you woke up with an empty space in your body, and it was waiting to be filled. You didn't know it then. Something was bound to find purchase inside of you eventually.

A tiny seed. It's nesting in your belly.

You weren't aware of it yesterday.

You don't know how it got in there in the first place. You haven't seen it, but something decisive has clicked inside of you today; you have sensed an intruder. You don't know how it got there. Maybe it rode in on something you ate, or maybe it's lain dormant within for longer than you'd originally estimated. It could have been with you, waiting, the whole time. Not that it should matter now. If it's in there, it's in there, right? And you can't even be sure if it's in there, really. Still. Your mind is a bird's beak, and that thought is a nut. How did it get in there?

A week later, your thoughts are no different. If only you had known then, that it was coming, you could have readied your antibodies. But it's too late for regrets, because while your immune system was sleeping, it left the door open for a pathogen, and now that tiny seed is incubating inside of you like a baby to be. It's hooked into you with that makeshift umbilical cord (roots), and when it's time for the birthing, its head (buds) will burst out of you, drain your blood of all nutrients, twine more stalks out from under your fingernails, crush your body like a soda can, use your height as leverage to reach closer to the sun.

You've got to get it out of there.

If it is in there at all, you remind yourself.    

Within a month, you've adjusted to the idea about as well as you could. Within two, you're watching yourself. Every little stomach pang means something ("Could that have been a root brushing up against my stomach lining?" You don't know.) Within three, you're sure that you're photosynthesizing for two, you're sure that you are, but your internal organs are not a taxi service, and you sure as hell didn't sign them up for that, so you try to stay out of the sun so much. Maybe you can choke the little shit out. You begin to wonder when you will cough up your first hunk of pollen.

Web M.D. says that it's impossible for a human being to grow a plant in their body by ingesting a seed. The notion gives you comfort, but not for long. Where did this so-called "Dr. Web" get his degree anyway? You don't know what his credentials are. And besides, he hasn't met you. For all you know, you could be a special exception.

 Five months in, and before you know it, winter arrives. At night, when it's at its coldest, you like to go outside to smoke cigarettes. You've tried to freeze it out, smoke it out, starve it out, choke it out, throw it up- no matter how harsh the elements are outside, your innards keep the seedling nice and warm.

After a year, you feel more like flora than fauna. Your veins were replaced by bittersweet vines some while back, and your bones are overtaken by ivy; the notches in your backbone are rubbery now, like jade leaves, and years of painful orthodonture have been undone by a creeper pushing its tendrils between your teeth and their fleshy pink flowerbeds.

You've become a spore.

You know this, but you don't want to believe it.

           You pull your hair out by the root every day and check the pores in your scalp for new sprouts. You tear yourself open like a surgeon to see what's fiction and what's really cooking under your skin. The results are inconclusive. You research your special condition religiously, day in and day out, but the information never changes. You're a grim font of knowledge, the world's most reluctant botanist. You could swear that in the right light, your skin looks green ("looks green," you say; don't undersell it-you can practically see the chlorophyll hiding in your muscles, plant cells set like bricks, vacuoles rolling like eyes-oh yes, you can feel doom encroaching upon you when you stare hard enough.) Every day is a near miss, but soon enough, it will catch up to you. Its roots have metastasized in you, and they've burrowed themselves stuck. All that's left for them to do is make themselves known for sure.

Imagine that you are afraid? You don't have to imagine anymore.