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Bewildering Stories

Luke Forney writes about...

“The Meadow”

Challenge 266: What do you think will happen to Bobby and Tommy after they escape in Greg Ellis’s “The Meadow”? If they don’t escape, why should they be devoured like the bunny rabbit?

No one else knows it, but the grass uses blood to pollinate. That red mist? It is a spray of spores, and Bobby and Tommy will soon discover that the trail leading back home has sprouted more of this monstrous grass, leaving them completely surrounded.

Tommy, with his .22, will try to blast it away, clearing some bit of the path. Thrilled at finding a way to get out of their jam, he steps to the small cleared spot, only to realize that he is not out of reach of the grass. It bites into his ankle, causing him to fall headlong into the grass, which proceeds to consume him. Bobby, terrified, sits on the ground, crying, as the red mist spreads over him.

Greg Ellis presented a magnificent story. The open ending allows for plenty of “What If?” fun. My congratulations to him!

Luke Forney

Copyright © 2007 by Luke Forney

Quite a colorful appreciation, Luke! Your alternate ending at least gets rid of the gun-toting character, namely Tommy. Now, Bobby needs a character flaw to warrant the poetic justice of being next on the carnivorous grass’s menu.

“The Meadow” can be read as either a story ending, where the boys get eaten, or as a beginning, where they escape but must inevitably confront again the monster in the man-eating meadow.

The theme of nature’s hostility to man goes back a long way in science fiction. One might recall Ward Moore’s Greener Than You Think, or John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, or, in our own Bewildering Stories, E. S. Strout’s “Deep Freeze,” in the same issue, or Peter Woodruff’s “The Thing in the Pond,” in issue 247, plus any number of other examples.

Both “The Meadow” and “Deep Freeze” are, strictly speaking, vignettes rather than true stories. The reason is that the grass, in “The Meadow,” and the glacier’s ghost, in “Deep Freeze,” are actually characters. As such, they require motivation: why do they eat people? After all, nature is not malevolent.

— BZZT: Nature intercept —

No, but Mother Nature is highly displeased with the antics of you Earthlings and is going to take you to the woodshed for a good thrashing. Now, march!

— Nature intercept out: BZZT —

What was that? Did you see anything? Must be some kind of interference on the line...

Anyway, as I was saying, we might have a space adventure story featuring a planetful of carnivorous plants, or a story set in a past or future ice age. But the vegetation or the ice would be part of the setting, not characters.


Copyright © 2007 by Don Webb

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