He felt like the plants were watching him. They way they seemed to turn as he passed them gave him an uneasy feeling. The wind rustling their leaves sounded almost like some strange language he couldn’t possibly understand. Yet at the same time, it seemed they were whispering to him as much as to each other.
Up ahead, the path he was following through the thick jungle was coming to an end. Did he dare attempt to bushwhack through this strange foliage? Just when he thought he was going to have to make his own path whether he wanted to or not, the wind shifted and the path opened before him. To his exhausted brain, it looked almost as if the plants moved aside to let him through.
He had been flying past the planet scanning for signs of life. While there was plenty of plant life, he could find nothing with a heartbeat. He’d just marked the planet as possibly viable for colonization when he noticed an anomaly. While the planet was almost completely covered with vegetation, he’d spotted a barren patch roughly two square miles wide. Normally, this wouldn’t have bothered him, but from his vantage point, it appeared to be littered with dozens, maybe even hundreds of wrecked spacecraft. He’d just begun to make a note of it in his book when something struck his ship.
When he woke up, his ship was just another wreck in the graveyard. He was grateful that the abundance of plant life produced breathable air because the visor on his helmet was shattered. Luckily, other than for a few small scratches on his face from the broken plexiglass, he seemed to be uninjured.
He knew the smart thing to do would be to stay with his ship, but he felt an overwhelming compulsion to explore the jungle. Besides, all the strange wrecked vessels creeped him out. At least he hadn’t seen any remains of their pilots. Maybe rescue wasn’t out of the question.
It seemed he’d been walking for days. All he wanted to do was find a soft spot to stop and take a nap. Still, something told him he had to keep moving. That was the important thing. Just put one foot in front of the other and hope the plants would keep letting him pass. A vine reached out to him and wrapped around his wrist. He barely noticed as he kept moving through the thick foliage. The path before him shifted this way and that, as if the plants themselves were guiding him somewhere.
He found himself in a large clearing with a massive purple flower standing in the very center. The flower’s petals looked like purple velvet blankets surrounding a pillow of gold. He couldn’t see a path exiting the clearing. He turned around to go back the way he’d come, but that path had closed to him as well. The vines whipped back and forth almost menacingly. The air was suddenly thick with the sweet scent of the flower.
He felt a calm wash over him as he breathed in the perfume and felt silly for seeing the vines as menacing just a moment before.
I’m clearly exhausted, he thought to himself. I just need a little nap.
Without another thought, he climbed onto the humongous purple flower. The center of the flower was every bit as soft as it had looked. He laughed as puffs of pollen jetted into the air with his every movement. As he drifted off, he realized he could understand the whispering of the plants after all. It was just that there were so many voices, he could only understand them now that they were all saying the same thing.
“Join us.” The voices chanted in unison.
Soon he was slumbering deeply. He never even felt the petals enfold him as they began to digest his body.