Bogleech.com's 2020 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by spiderhoney
“The nasturtiums are coming along nicely. Don’t you want to see?”
The orange blooms climbed up Roland’s left leg in a winding pattern, their petals radiant in the waning sunlight. They looked healthy, attended to with care, planted seven inches apart from each other in neat, even intervals. Stefan leaned down and twisted a stem between his thumb and forefinger.
“Not very talkative today, huh? That’s okay. You’ve been so cooperative this past week, it’s okay if you’re tired. We have been doing a lot of work, after all.”
Roland heaved a shaky breath, turned his head to the side. The motion was difficult, restrained by the looping vines that coiled around his neck and shoulders. Tiny thorns pricked at his skin as he did so, drawing beads of blood that were quickly absorbed by the greedy plants. He shifted where he sat, immobilized and verdant green.
“There’s only one area I want to work on today,” Stefan continued, continuing to twist the nasturtium plant between his fingers. “It won’t be that much trouble, and you can take the entire day to rest afterwards. I know, I know, thank me later.”
With a laugh, Stefan tugged sharply on the flower’s stem, and it uprooted itself in a shower of flesh and blood spatter. Roland yelped, then bit his tongue in an effort to keep from crying. Stefan examined the small bloom, then tucked it behind his ear.
“I’d put it behind yours, but it would clash with the ivy,” He explained, smoothing over the small puncture the flower had left behind. His gloved hands left behind a smear of dirt on Roland’s skin, but the wound quickly closed as if it had never been there before. The pain lingered, though, unable to be swept away as easily. If the situation had been any different, Roland would have complimented Stefan on how cute the flower looked, just to see him smile that gap-toothed grin he loved so much. Now, the very thought made him nauseous.
“You’re turning into a real work of art,” Stefan whispered as he kneeled before Roland, situating himself between his legs. “My greatest project yet, I think. Isn’t it wonderful to think about, my dear?”
“You’re a monster, Stefan,” Roland wheezed. “You don’t need me to tell you this anymore. I’m sure every skeleton littered around this hell has already tried to.”
Stefan tutted, swept some leaves away from Roland’s eyes. The crown of ivy sprouting from his skull was striking, to be sure, but frightfully inconvenient for conversation. “Don’t be jealous, darling. My previous partners were nothing compared to you. Besides, the past is the past.”
It would be foolish to imply Stefan didn’t have an eye for aesthetics, and Roland certainly was becoming something to behold. The carmine hue of the roses encircling his upper arms went so well with the daffodils dotting the circumference of his right leg, both shades contrasting the violets poking out from his hips. Two slits down his forearms revealed white bone, lily-of-the-valley, baby’s breath. Every incision on his body was clean, untouched by gangrene or rot, oozing blood so tastefully one would find it hard to see it as anything but art, sterile and beautiful.
“Alrighty,” Stefan shucked off his gloves and discarded them somewhere Roland could not see, “Hold still, my blossom, and this won’t hurt any more than it has to.”
Roland shut his eyes tightly; Stefan’s creative process was hellish enough to feel, let alone to see. He envisioned being somewhere else, anywhere else, as Stefan brushed aside what little of his clothes the foliage had not reduced to rags in their growth and placed his hand on his chest.
Immediately there was warmth, a spark, that quickly ignited into a wash of flame so bright it felt like scalding water. It spread across Roland’s chest, soothing facade giving way to a prickling sensation that spiraled downwards into the depths of his body. The pricking worsened, took root, and Roland felt the first pangs of agony begin to stir. It felt like his very flesh was being consumed, used as fodder for something else, something alien yet familiar. Despite his best efforts, he screamed when the first stem broke the skin, snaking and coiling around his ribs to emerge like some ungodly parasite. Another followed, then another, until his chest appeared little more than a cluster of writhing, woody stems and buds.
“You’re doing very well,” Stefan murmured. “Hold on for just a little bit longer, my darling.”
Green leaves opened and faced upwards, speckled with red and brown. The buds unfolded, bloomed, revealing concentric rings of pink petals. Roland was crying at this point, no longer trying to hold back the tidal wave of hurt. He would have lifted his hands and clawed at his chest were they not struck through with orchid and peony, fingers nearly rooted to the ground themselves. Still the dreadful petals unfurled, reaching for the last remnants of golden twilight as velvet night spread over the sky.
At last, Stefan removed his hand from the raw red mess that was Roland’s torso, basking in his work. Circular pink blooms sprouted from between Roland’s ribs, velvet soft and flecked with gore. Their color did not clash with the grotesque crimson, but seemed to accentuate it, shifting ever so slightly with every beat of Roland’s overclocked heart.
“How delightful!” Stefan tilted his head, stared at the nightmarish collection of botany he had so carefully cultivated in his boyfriend’s flesh. “Camellias.”
Roland could do little more than sob in response, seemingly unable to appreciate how beautiful these new additions to his form were.
“They got a bit dirty, though,” Stefan wrinkled his nose. “Occupational hazard, I suppose. I’ll go get the misting bottle, we can clean them up a bit. Then I’ll let you get some rest. What do you say?”
Roland looked up at him, brown eyes full of contempt, and spat at his feet.
It was quiet for a moment, save for the rustling sound of wind through Roland’s petals. Then, Stefan leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to Roland’s sore, chapped lips. When he met Roland’s gaze, his eyes resembled glass marbles, and his gentle, oblivious smile cut deeper than any scalpel could.
“I just had a wonderful idea for what I could do with your tongue. Don’t move, my love. I’ll be right back.”