Short Story: Dusk Creeps Slowly

(reformatted for website)

There once was a man who lived in the Garden of Spring. Surrounded by luscious, exotic plants, he spent his time eating the many fruits they produced; swimming in the various bodies of water; and admiring the uniqueness of each plant of the ever changing landscape in his garden. He enjoyed every minute of his existence in a state of constant, unconscious bliss.

Then one day, as he aimlessly roamed around, he noticed a strange and ugly plant taking root in ground. It was dark and misshapen, and just looking at it would give him an eerie feeling. Although he had a sense that he should destroy it because something about it was bad, curiosity and the odd pleasure he derived from giving it attention convinced him not to follow his instincts.

At first, he would only visit it every now and then. As time went on, however, he found himself returning to it more and more because tending to it offered him a more intense joy than the general happiness that his other plants gave him. This plant was ugly unlike any other plant in his garden, and though he could have easily crushed it with his foot, he did not do so due to a morbid attraction to its hideous but unique characteristics.

Slowly and without realizing it, he started abandoning the other plants of his garden in favor of spending time with this ugly shrub. Eventually, it became the first plant he tended to in the morning and the last thought in his mind before he went to sleep at night. But while he liked how he felt during the time he tended to it, he didn't like how he felt after tending to it.

Still, he couldn't get away. After more time had passed, however, it started to lose its appeal, and he didn't enjoy tending to half as much as he used to. Yet he was twice as miserable if he didn't tend to it, and three times as miserable after tending to it. Slowly, he grew to hate the plant, the way it made him disinterested in all other plants, the way it obsessed and controlled him.

Finally one day, after tending to the plant was no longer a thrill but a necessity, he had had enough, and resolved to kill it once and for all. But when he went to visit it again, it had grown to ten times its original size! He looked at this horrid bush in disgust. How dare it grow! How dare it violate the beauty of his garden!

However, it was too big to kill with his bare hands. The thought of this evil weed consumed his mind filling him with anger and hatred. At this point, the other plants in the garden were completely neglected and slowly losing their good health, but the man was too preoccupied to notice as he grew towards a constant state of unrest and anger.

One day in a mood of determined rage, he decided that it didn't matter that it had grown so big; he was still going to destroy it by using a rock to smash it down. He grabbed the biggest rock that fit his grip and walked in the direction of the weed in a manner he had never walked before: with purpose.

But when he reached his destination, he was shocked to find that the shrub was no longer a shrub. Indeed in the short time he had left it, it had grown so incredibly fast into a young, hideous, treelike form. No matter; he would strike it down all the same. He raised the rock above his head and smashed it into the trunk of the weed with all his might.

It was going to take more than that to kill this vile plant. He struck it again and again. For hours, he pounded away as sweat dripped down his brow. But after many repeated strikes that seemed to get him nowhere, he grew discouraged; and after a few more he quit altogether. He walked away with a new unpleasant feeling in his heart.

It wasn't like the physical pain he felt the times he tripped in his garden; it was more of a hopeless void. He was now in a deep state of depression. In an effort to bring back the joy he knew only a few months prior, he took a walk around his garden, but it didn't work.

Since he had stopped giving attention to his other plants, they were now limp and no longer had the vibrant colors they used to. If only he could go back to the time when he saw the horrid plant at its beginning stage; he would rip it out with his bare hands and tear it to shreds so easily!

Each day, the man spiraled down into a deeper and deeper state of mental distress. As his spirit grew weak, the evil plant grew big continuing to grow into a towering tree that stood high above all the other weakened plants. Its roots choked nearby shrubs, and vines formed from its branches that spanned across the garden killing many of the smaller plants.

Eventually, the branches grew so huge that they towered over the garden and prevented light from entering thereby casting it into perpetual darkness. Big black clouds formed around the branches, and the lack of sunlight killed off what was left of his once beautiful garden. A storm was slowly brewing out of the dark clouds.

Lacking control of his thoughts and emotions, the man was now at his lowest stage ever in what can only be described as a blind state of panic and rage. The storm surrounding the evil plant grew in force, and thunder began to rumble in the sky. Each crack of thunder compelled the man to react in a fit of rage. He was now completely insane.

While the storm grew into a violent frenzy in the sky, thunder was continuing to build up until finally one gigantic bolt of lightning flashed down towards the garden. Though the man screamed in a loud shrill voice, he was drowned out by the deafening crack of thunder that filled the air.

The bolt had struck the evil plant, and it was so big that it had almost completely burnt down the tree. As for the man, he lay unconscious on the ground from the overload of stress that his mind could no longer handle. A few days passed until one morning rays of sunlight tickled his face and slowly woke him up.

He forced his eyes to open as wide as they could against their instinct to squint in the sunlight. He looked around himself. The air full of light was in direct contrast to the dark ground that was mostly raw earth with shards of burnt wood and dead plants peppered throughout. Eventually, he rose to his feet and walked around at a very slow place looking at all the destruction which used to be his garden.

He was numb yet calm. As the days went by, however, his numbness was replaced by sadness.He thought about all of his lovely plants that had been destroyed, and remembered everyone of them despite the fact that they had numbered in the thousands. One day as he was pacing in his now empty garden, he sat down on a stump that used to be a tree.

Putting his face in his hands, he began to weep, at first lightly then sobbing uncontrollably. After the cry ran its course, he dried his tears; and as he wiped the water from his eyes, he noticed a few blades of grass growing nearby his feet. He looked lovingly at the young and vulnerable blades so green and so full of potential.

He now had a newfound sense of true purpose vowing to take care of these few blades and guard them with his life, as well as give them his full attention. After a couple of months had passed, the few blades he first discovered had turned into a big healthy stretch of grass - filled with trees, shrubs, and plants of all colors, shapes, and sizes.

So beautiful was his Garden of Summer! The man knew happiness once again; only now he was aware that he was happy because he had something else to compare it to.