Hello! Thank you for visiting and reading my short series, The Search for the Last Flower. This is Part 5, if you haven’t read the other installments, it would be best for your overall experience to do so prior to reading this one. ( Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 )
Caleb stared at him, looking despondent.
“Come––stay in front with me.” Dr. Smith took his arm again. “Don’t worry about your team, they will be closely guarded by my men.”
He addressed the group. “We’re about to start on a quest––a quest for a species of flower that will save humanity. Look around you . . . these are the people that will go down in history with you.”
Caleb glowered at him.
When they arrived at the field where the flowers grew, the tribesmen were already there. They had ignited a fire around the periphery of the field. The elder and his men looked at Dr. Smith and his gun-wielding ruffians, but didn’t seem alarmed or surprised.
It was midnight, and the flowers should have been in bloom. Dr. Smith looked around the field. His jaw dropped and his eyes widened. He moved to one side, then the other, his blue eyes reflecting the flames that were growing by the second around the field.
“Why are you burning the field? Dr. Smith yelled at the elder. “Where are the flowers?” The elder stared at him with vacant eyes. Dr. Smith shook Caleb. He placed Caleb in front of the elder. “Ask him––ask him the whereabouts of the flowers. Have they already harvested them?”
Caleb did what Andrew ordered. The elder remained calm and with a mild expression, explained all to him. Dr. Smith gripped Caleb’s arm tighter. “What did he say, Caleb? I see but one flower in the middle of the field. Where are the others? Tell him he must talk!”
The elder looked at him and frowned.
Caleb pointed to the lone flower. “The elder said that the flower you see in the middle of the field is the last of its kind. There are no more.”
“He’s lying!” Andrew wore a crazed look on his face. “I will shoot one of his men if he doesn’t tell me where the other blooms are––tell him!”
Caleb jolted and then communicated what he had said to the elder, who gaped at Dr. Smith.
“The elder said this particular flower couldn’t be picked without causing damage to it. It only blossoms once a year, at midnight, and dies before dawn. It will only last a few hours after being picked, and will not make it out of this jungle.”
Dr. Smith groaned, hurried to one of his men and grabbed his rifle from him. When he returned, he pointed the weapon at a young native standing next to the elder.
“No!” Caleb yelled. “Please, stop! The elder speaks the truth.”
The gun went off. The young man gripped his chest. He looked at Caleb, at the bloody hole in his chest, and then at the elder, his father, before falling to the ground, dead. The elder fell to his knees and wept over his son. Soon the other tribesmen gathered around the elder and his son, and they, too, wept.
Large drops fell from Caleb’s eyes as he stared at Dr. Smith, astonished. He shook his head, unwilling to believe that this was his father. “How could you do this? Don’t you understand? Once the flower is picked the plant dies. All the flowers have been picked, except for the one that remains in the field.”
“He lies,” Dr. Smith said.
“These people don’t know how to lie!” Caleb yelled. “Only one flower remains. Take it and go.”
Dr. Smith pointed the gun at him. “You’re leaving with me, but first, go get me that flower!”
“I can’t––I won’t.” Caleb grimaced with fear and repulsion. “The field is on fire!”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. It’s a small fire on the periphery. You can jump over it and run.” Dr. Smith showed him how with his fingers running and jumping on his palm.
Caleb narrowed his eyes and his mouth fell open in disbelief.
“Go pick the flower already before the fire gets bigger!”
“You wouldn’t shoot me.”
“Maybe not, but I would easily shoot another one of them.” He pointed to the tribesmen.
“You understand the flower will not live to dawn,” Caleb told him with a lump in his throat.
Dr. Smith grinned. “I didn’t get where I am today by being unprepared.” He gestured to one of his men. “The box, please.” The man handed him a small, metal box.
Caleb creased his brow.
“Pick the flower and place it immediately into this box,” Dr. Smith ordered Caleb. “It will instantly freeze the flower so that none of its properties will be lost.”
Acknowledgement flourished on Caleb’s face.
Dr. Smith cackled. “Go now, don’t waste any more time.” He handed him the metal box. “The longer you wait, the riskier it will be to escape the flames.”
Caleb gazed at the fire, which crept over the field toward the flower. How was he going to do this without burning alive? Caleb spotted an area where the fire was low and had not spread as far. He hurried, jumped over the low flames, and ran to the flower.
Once he reached the flower, he was mesmerized. It was exquisite, just as he had imagined. It was approximately ten inches in diameter. The large petals were the color of a summer sky. In the middle of the flower were long red stigmas, and its stamens were vibrant yellow like a sun shower. The stem was just as described by the tribesmen, a lively lime green. The small leaves were colored in the same lime green and had turquoise stripes.
Caleb had never seen anything like it. It was such a shame to pick it, knowing the plant would die and no one else would ever set eyes on it again.
The heat became intense. Caleb looked around him and saw flames. There was no escape. It seemed the flower would not be the only one to perish. A wall of smoke surrounded him. He began to cough and wheeze. He dropped the box. He fell to his knees and continued to cough. He lay as close to the ground as possible and waited for the end to come. He hoped he would lose consciousness before the flames engulfed him. He closed his eyes.
Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.