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Dandelion

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There's this lone parcel of land in our practically isolated community, which has remained vacant for a very long time, as Buck, Vietnam vet and elderly neighbor, had told me. A lot of the homeowners were intrigued as to why no one was buying or leasing the lot, let alone look at it. Real estate agents had long since discarded its marketability.

Oh, and uh, I'll have Buck tell this story from his perspective.

More than thirty years ago, the house was occupied by a Mrs. Pam.

Mrs. Pam was a middle-aged, reserved woman whose life revolved around her garden. She planted flowers and orchids of all sorts, all those crawling vines and roots she let adorn her backyard, the pinnacle of which was a bed of dandelions. Oh, how she loved them. She would tend to those flowers more than any of what she was cultivating. She made bouquets of them, painted them on canvas, and took pictures of them. Mrs. Pam would even tell the neighborhood ladies that if she ever had a daughter, she'd name her Dandy. Mind you, she wasn't overly weird or creepy, just plain infatuated with dandelions.

So one particularly cold night, this starving cat strays into her backyard, and unable to get food or water, it dies. Conveniently enough on Mrs. Pam's beloved flowers.

The next morning, she wakes up to the putrid smell of something, and discovers the source, reacting as anyone would. Problem was, she didn't have anywhere to bury the carcass but in her own backyard. Having the thought of using it as fertilizer, she buried it 'neath her prized flowers, hoping that the lifeless mass of nutrients would be beneficial to the soil and plants. So she dug a hole, rolled the cat in and shoved all that dirt in there.

A few weeks later Mrs. Pam observed an improved growth in the grass and flowers, having had vast experience in uh, watching plants grow. It was, for her, a much better, cost-free alternative to the little sacks of nitrogen fertilizer she bought. Much, much better.

No one really knew the reason behind it, but in a strange turn of events, Mrs. Pam was suddenly interested in using carcasses for plant growth. She resorted to taking in old, stray animals for cultivation use, mysteriously evading watchful eyes when she would go out to "collect." No one ever caught her in the act. Back home, she would feed the homeless animals treated meals: a lethal concoction of bug-spray, roach bait and mice killer, mixed with dog or cat food.

The animals were never missed, nor did a single amount of suspicion loop into the fray. The closest anyone had got was when someone complimented the decrease in stray animals. They didn't know what was transpiring, three feet under. In a short period of three months, Mrs. Pam had collected as much as seventy animals, all of which met the morbid fate of becoming part of Mother Nature's biological cycle. Meanwhile, the backyard garden was blooming, such that it pushed Mrs. Pam to establish a local plant shop. Customers would later ask how the produce could attain such positively aesthetic and physical qualities. The plants were unusually colorful and sizable, and in answering questions about these, the sly gardener would only pass it off as a "trade secret."

She maintained the routine of collecting dead matter until this little girl reports her missing puppy.

'Ol missus' Pam apparently got too comfortable with her modus operandi and took in a five-month old Yorkshire Terrier, even after having seen its collar. Her purging of strays had brought their population to a slow halt, but it didn't really affect her dark fancy. The puppy escaped from its owner a day earlier and made the mistake of sleeping in a dense, blooming garden.

After it had ruined many of the flowers, rolling over them and digging up the soil, Mrs. Pam found out the next morning, and was, as you'd expect, extremely upset at the mess. Not too keen on giving the canine a last meal, she forced it into a corner and bludgeoned it with a shovel, breaking its bones and causing massive internal bleeding until it simply dropped to the ground, with one brutal swing to the head. It made quite a mess inside the house, traces of blood from the dog limping from point A to point B as it spent its last moments.

The poor dog ended up helping grass and flowers grow.

A few days later, this friend of Mrs. Pam came over and visited. Upon entering, she noted the strong smell of a coppery substance and another distinctly putrid odor of decaying, wet flesh, one that made her throw up. She immediately excused herself, apologizing to her friend, and went home with breakfast absent from her stomach.

Apparently this friend of hers had noticed a faded, but still visible trace of blood in the laundry area, and more importantly a red fabric collar with those little metal spikes, carelessly sitting in the trash can. She noticed from her peripheral vision as she was vomiting in the sink. Having heard of the missing puppy, she put two and two together and called the proper authorities. Animal care and all.

After a short investigation on her lot, Mrs. Pam was incarcerated for mistreating and killing animals. No one knew how long she spent behind bars. All they knew was that a little bit more than six years later, her house and lot, all of it, was subsequently sold to people who would later discover the carcasses, and have the entire house demolished. In a period of ten years since being left to real estate agents, the lot was nothing more than a bed of grass and scattered wood. Even the backyard plants were mowed over, and the plant shop liquidated and put out of business.

I was intrigued by Buck's story. It was creepy, but nevertheless interesting to hear. I had some work to be done back home, so I bid the old man adieu.

Out of curiosity, I decided to walk for a little bit longer and see it for myself. It was four in the afternoon, and the sun was drooping colorfully in the horizon. Since our community is set some distance apart from the city, all you can really hear at a time like this are a few distant dogs barking somewhere and birds chirping.

I walked for a little less than a minute, admiring the tranquil surroundings. It was cold out, too. It reminded me of some vague childhood memory.

I snapped out of my dreamy stupor as I looked up to see the empty lot. It was situated near the border, being truly isolated from an already isolated group of homes. The piece of land was an unsettling combination of uneven grass and a lone, rotting "For Sale" sign. Maybe I was out of my mind, but I ventured further into the lot. The grass reached about ankle-level, and my shoes sank into the damp soil beyond. Once I felt I was far enough, reaching a small clearing in the lawn, I froze.

My breathing stopped, and every sound I heard was narrowed down to mere white noise. I saw what gave me an utterly sleepless night.

Flowers

In the small plot of dirt where the grass softly bowed, were small, pristine dandelions.

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