This is part of a text adventure series to celebrate the spookiest of months, October (and beyond!). Full information about what’s happening can be found here. It is free to read, but in order to vote on what happens next, you will need to be a Patron. To become a Patron, you can find my Patreon page here.
Map of the known area
- A small flashlight
- Nick’s car-related paperwork
- A generic fast food straw
- Half a packet of mints
- A pen
- A fieldbook about common countryside plants
- Nick’s mobile phone
You think for a moment, trying to find the right order to put across your questions.
“Who is ‘Mother’?” you eventually ask.
“Mother? She is the owner of this house. Although I’m not surprised you haven’t met her yet. She is always terribly busy on nights like this.”
You think back to conversations you’ve already had with Violet. A different Violet, of course. If what this Violet is saying is true, that would make ‘Mother’ Miss Dalton. Strange that this one calls her by something different. The relationship between them seems to have become as weird and fragmented as the people themselves.
“She was a woman ahead of her time. A scientist, an explorer, and of entirely independent means. I don’t know anything about her ancestry, although I understand there was not much love lost between her and what relatives she had. She never married, but wanted a family of her own. I suppose that’s why she adopted me.
“She is old. Older than me. Although not by much in relative terms.”
You prompt her to explain.
“Well, I suppose I must be somewhere in the region of 160 years old. Give or take. Which would make Mother perhaps 190.” There’s an odd tone to her voice as she reveals this. Her eyes drift to one side.
You try to hide the equal amounts of incredulity and surprise you feel. It all sounds completely batshit insane. Although, given what you’ve experienced and the person you’re currently looking at, maybe anything’s possible.
That seems like a good opportunity to ask your next question: “What does ‘renewal’ entail?”
Violet’s gaze returns to you; she gives you a small smile.
“A decade or more of research, and the exorcism of one’s morals, I would have to say,” she replies. “After all, one can’t have life without a little sacrifice.”
You feel the hairs on the back of your neck prickle.
“In order to grow a plant, do you not provide it with nourishment? In our case, much of the nourishment is taken from the world around us – the earth, the sun, and water. In order to precipitate the process of renewal, however, it is necessary for one to take a cutting and do whatever one can to ensure that it takes. A life for a life: as direct a transference as possible. Mother would consider it to be a simple conservation of energy. It requires a convergence of events – such as the Harvest Moon – as much as it does a convergence of knowledge, desperation, and ability.”
You feel lost.
She reads your expression and meets it with sympathy.
“It is no simple process. If it were, anyone could do it. If you want more information on what’s involved, Leon would be able to assist. He’s a simple man, but he’s practical. He has a plain way of speaking that might be more useful.
“To put it in layman’s terms, when our bodies begin to fail, it is necessary for us to be replanted so we may grow anew. And what better place to replant ourselves than in the ready-formed trellis of another living creature? I understand that experiments were performed using animals, but their… how shall I say this… their bodies are not suitable. Their form and their life energy is incompatible with that of a human. Or, at least, something whose end form identifies as human. The results of those experiments were distressing to all involved.
“After some trial and error, Mother came to realise that the only viable habitat for us to grow in would be another person.”
You feel the blood rush from your face.
“Oh don’t worry,” she tells you. “You’re quite safe. I can’t imagine you would be allowed to walk around the house if you were to be used in tonight’s renewal.”
You think of Nick. Where the fuck is he?
“I suppose our existence has become somewhat parasitic. If it’s of any consequence, I am not wholly satisfied with the way things have become. In fact, I’m quite bloody sick of it all to be honest. I imagine you would be too if your life had come to this.”
You try to think of what to ask next.
- “What are you?”
- “What can I do to help?”
- “That’s everything, thank you.” [leave the attic]
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