by John Ritchie
General Blanning glared at the contents of the hydroponic tank. “That’s it! You took the budget for an entire Mechanized Division, for that? A lousy patch of grass.”
He tossed his cigar butt onto the turf. “Get my car. Get General Dewey on the cell, and get me another damn cee-gar. Sumbitch!” Shoving aides and research staff aside, Blanning stormed out of the laboratory.
The butt moved across the grass as sensitive detectors recorded a faint whispering.
An hour later Professor Miyaki was near tears. “But you can’t stop funding! I am almost ready... another few weeks... You don’t understand...” The steady buzz from the abruptly disconnected telephone line proved her right.
Meanwhile, in the tank, the tobacco leaves had been unrolled and grass seeds stuck to their inner surfaces. The process of re-rolling had begun.
Later, while locking up after work, a research assistant discovered a tightly rolled Havana stub resting on the grass in the hydroponic tank. She put it to one side to be thrown out with the trash.
That evening, as he dusted the benches, the janitor found the stub and slipped it into his pocket. Stepping outside for a smoke he put the stogie to his lips, but it tasted bitter, so he threw it, unlit, onto the grass near the door. By the time he left work, two hours later, the butt had disintegrated.
The funding meeting at the laboratory the following week was almost as short and bitter as the cigar butt.
“Intelligent, carnivorous, grass that will trap, kill and eat enemy troops. That is the craziest thing I have ever heard. Get real, professor, and stop wasting the Pentagon’s time and money.”
Meanwhile, outside the lab, a cat watched, fascinated, as the lawn devoured a squealing sparrow from the claws up.
Copyright © 2006 by J. Ritchie