My ancestors came from Mexico, where people did not fear us but loved us. They would wait a whole year to eat our fruit. They would smell us coming.
We did not stand on the shoulders of giants so much as piggy-backed on them, so that we could seem like giants too as we wound around trees and poles. Thus we became monstera deliciosa, the ‘delicious monsters’, journeying to many lands and bringing joy wherever we went.
Humans gave us many names but the weirdest was ‘Swiss cheese plant’. For goodness sake, who has ever seen green Swiss cheese? We should have recognised this as an early sign of the stupidity of humans and their propensity to give derogatory names to what they don’t understand.
Unfortunately, worse was to come. Just as they had done with all other living things, humans wanted to enslave and control us. So they found a way to grow us in pots inside their over-heated houses and they cut us down to size if we threatened to unbalance their minimalist designs.
To keep us attractive and green, they fed us copious amounts of blood and bone fertiliser. What they didn’t know, in their endlessly ignorant quest to improve on Nature, was that by doing so they would slowly alter our genetic structure and inadvertently produce an entirely different sub-species. We finally evolved into monstera carnivorosa. We now had more in common with the Venus Flytrap than a peaceful fruiting climber.
Humans were puzzled but delighted that, contrary to all common sense, in our new form we had begun to ‘fruit’, despite being housed indoors, and were delighted when our scales started to drop off, a sure sign of delicious fruit to come when we were in the wild. What they didn’t notice was that the scales on our fruit were now able to become airborne and form into foraging clusters that returned to the host plant in the dead of night, like bees returning to the hive.
No-one foresaw the environmental impact this transformation would have. Occasionally a human might remark about the increasing rarity of seeing houseflies and mosquitoes in the summertime but, given that this was universally considered a good thing, it was ignored. And when the spiders and the mice and the rats disappeared, humans simply saw this is a gift from God’s long-term evolutionary plan.
An outcast group of humans, called Scientists, questioned why this was happening and feared for the long-term ramifications of entire species disappearing from the food chain. Fortunately for our species, they were ignored, mocked and pilloried on social media, and then lost their research grants.
Then the cats began to mysteriously vanish. Cat-loving humans harangued their leaders and demanded that they do something immediately to find out who or what was behind this rapidly spreading extinction. Other humans, especially bird lovers, either secretly or openly, were cheered by this phenomenon, although some did speculate that the business model of social media may collapse.
The fear and anger of the humans rose dramatically when the same thing started to happen to small, yappy dogs and speculation began that this could spread to small humans disappearing. Outright panic replicated like a virus across the human race.
The Scientists were now accused of being asleep at the wheel in not warning about this potential unfolding catastrophe and Governments, having given them some small amounts of money, demanded an immediate solution.
The mainstream media was suddenly awash with worried-looking ‘experts’ who expounded at length about what it might be, while being suitably evasive about what they did or didn’t know, in the interests of national security.
The Prime Minister called an urgent press conference to announce that whatever resources were required to deal with this emergency would be made available and hinted darkly, without naming names, that certain foreign countries hostile to our interests may be involved but he didn’t wish to speculate further. Largely identical press conferences were held in the capitals of all the human nations.
The Government established a Command Centre, where heated discussions ensued between senior members of first responder organisations and the military as to what weaponry may be needed to counter the threat, just as soon as it was established what the threat might actually be.
Social media was rife with speculative certainty that this was, amongst other possibilities, the first sign of the Second Coming, the symbolic heralding of the triumph of the One World Government, and Bill Gates demonstrating the launch of his Windows Of The Soul mind-control software.
Meanwhile, due to their contrary nature, the Scientists had not ceased to research and observe. Many were focused on the nature of some shadowy airborne orbs that had begun to appear at dusk.
When they related what they saw to other Scientists, they struggled to describe them. The orbs were definitely observable but didn’t have a shape that anyone recognised. It seemed to some that they had a colour but they couldn’t say for sure what that colour was and they weren’t even sure if there were different colours at different times.
They made a noise, not loud, but constant and rhythmic. The noise seemed somehow familiar but unlike anything they’d heard before. And they were constantly on the move.
The breakthrough came when someone rang the Police to report seeing a shape of indeterminate colour and composition, making a rhythmic noise, moving at random but currently trapped in an alley. A SWAT team swung into action and brought the orb down with what has become known as a bubblegum blaster, a sticky balloon that renders any object immobile.
Finally the scientists had something tangible to work with and quickly traced the hexagonal-shaped components back to our species.
Early theories that we may have cross-contaminated other plant species, with the potential for vegetables to start eating humans rather than the other way around, were quickly dismissed by the Scientists but embraced by social media influencers with monstera-destroying products to sell.
The humans embarked on a maniacal witch-hunt of all of our kind, including our deliciously innocent sisters. A convoy of sealed trucks transported us to a secret desert location and disintegrated us with a controlled atomic blast. And that was the end of that.
Well, almost. A few irradiated particles were borne on the wind back to our home in Mexico. The radiation exposure had morphed some of us into a new sub-species, monstera destructa, and they have thrived by climbing a very convenient host wall, which they are now consuming. Their scouts have ear-marked the Three Gorges Dam in China, much of Lower Manhattan and the Kremlin as future host sites.
But some of us, like me, have transformed into monstera electra and we are slowly eating the internet, before tackling the electricity grid.
You, my dear humans, are about to find out what it feels like to be powerless in the face of an enemy bent on your annihilation, simply because they can.
Doug Jacquier lives in Yankalilla, Australia. He’s a father and grandfather, an avid cook, and a vegetable gardener. He writes stories and poems. He has travelled extensively, especially in Asia, the US and UK. He’s a former social worker and former not-for-profit CEO. His work has been included in several anthologies.