This day was a special day. This day was a warm spring day in which the air carried seeds anew through a broken garden, passing beyond the wooden fenceposts and ramshackle barricade of rusted metal that shielded their small world from harm. This day was a day in a time beyond ours, a time borne of a sudden onset of confusion, fear, metamorphosis. This day was the Birthing Day, set upon the Community beyond the time of the Germinaton.
Here, they dwelled, few in number yet utterly devoted. They encompassed young and old, male and female. Before the Germination, this small outdoor circular space had been known as the Oroz Botanical Garden. It was a small slice of eden, blooming with plant life, pollinating creatures spreading the warmth and light throughout. Surrounding the circle were pathways of stone blocked off for pedestrians by railings. It all circumnavigated to the rotunda, sunken into the ground resembling an amphitheater spaced at one end by a large cement shed, set outwards from the elevated walkways. Wooden doors formerly painted in a mural of optimism and life led inwards to a storage facility. At the northern end of the rotunda, a grand gray tree towered overhead. The Allmother Tree, as she came to be known, spilled her roots downwards into the theatre, tendrils of old, a large knothole forming at the base.
Here in Oroz, the colonists frolicked, safe from behind their makeshift barriers. The beautiful city park beyond lie in ruins and the individuals who had come to live within decided it would be best to take things back to the ways of old. They clothed themselves in scraps of rinky dink tourist trappings scavenged from the gift shops nearby, garish sweaters and flip-flops bedecked in sunglass sporting, smiling suns and frothy waves containing dolphins plastered with idiotic grins. It was this very notion of consumer culture and the ways before the Germination that caused roughly half of the Oroz colony to forego clothing altogether. The newest refugee, still sporting the wounds of the world beyond, had decided to remain modest for the time being.
Baker, as he was known here, gathered with the rest of the Orozians as the Midwife took her stance upon the outcropping above the shed. She gazed down upon her faithful subjects and around at the garden, the mouthpiece for the Allmother. She gazed at the rot and ruin, at the gray and drooping floral remnants. But she did not fret, for all would be well. With each dismissal of a volunteer or a disbeliever, the Allmother Tree would provide a new seed. With each new seed they would, in time, harvest new growth and a new follower for the mighty arboreal sentinel. Their protector would keep them safe from the dangers outside the garden, if only they kept her satisfied on a regular basis. And today was that day.
The Midwife gestured to the crowd below, silently. She was clad in naught but what she had entered the world 60 years prior and she gesticulated wildly to the Orozians. They all grinned and spoke quietly amongst themselves, enthralled with the silent sermon. Baker pondered the occasion, still oblivious to their ways. He nudged the woman next to him, a young dark haired Orozian clad only in a green T-shirt about three sizes too large bedecked with a smiling dinosaur.
“What…exactly is going on?” Baker asked.
“Shhh,” Jogger said. “The Midwife is telling us all about the New Seed to be delivered today. She is deaf and so you must listen carefully.”
“Look, I’m still new here. I’m not exactly sure what is going on. Nobody has explained anything to me,” he protested.
An older man, the Doctor, spoke up from nearby. “If you need explaining, then you simply aren’t listening enough. The Allmother tells us all through the motions of the Midwife.”
Baker was silent. He gazed up at the matronly figure writhing about above in continual silent motion. His eyes narrowed but he simply couldn’t understand. He looked about at the other Orozians. They all seemed content with their tiny community. They seemed content sleeping in communal piles of flesh, they seemed content scavenging what little wildlife remained for food. Yet Baker was not content. The children seemed oddly quiet, complacent. The adults, some missing limbs, others seemingly fresh and new, all stared upwards with quiet serenity. The Midwife gestured towards the mighty Allmother. The community turned as one, a silent hive of perfect synchronicity. A young woman clad in only a ragged smock from a local convenience store fell to her knees. Her eyes rolled back into her head and her mouth opened wide before the spiraling tree roots in a silent yet rapturous shriek. The others followed suit. Jogger and Doctor, the children, the young man known as Artist. All knelt before that which they knew protected them. Baker turned back and looked upwards. The Midwife was not staring at the tree, she bore a hole directly through him with an unwavering and icy gaze. And then Baker broke.
He pushed past Doctor and scrambled up the walkway. He grabbed frantically at the barricade, anticipating anything outside the walls to be better than what he was witnessing here. He wrenched it open. It took but a moment for the Germinated ones to lurch forward to the best of their ability. What once had been men and women and children were firmly rooted in their final stance. They moaned with guttural squeals of those trapped in a torment between humanity and plant. They stretched forth some with tendrils, some with leaves, some with human hands – nails splitting apart before his wild eyes as the rooting took forth. Throughout the park, nay possibly the city and beyond, those unlucky enough to be afflicted unwillingly contributed to the new wave of plant life in the world. Jagged bark and ragged hands grasped at Baker and he leapt backwards in fear. Rapturous flesh and excited hands grasped at Baker and drew him directly back into the grey Garden. The Orozians slammed the barricade shut, cleaving the vine enshrouded head of a Germinated one in the process.
Baker screamed wildly, not sure of which Hell was the lesser. The community, all ages and gender, dragged him downwards as though he was crowd surfing in a celebration of sound and spirit from the Time Before. He was stripped, struck upon the head and tossed bodily down before the roots of the Allmother tree. The Midwife stood before him. She kneeled low, grasped Baker’s chin and thickly spoke one sentence, the only sentence she ever spoke.
With strength befitting one outside of her age, she thrust him within the roots of the tree. As his vision blackened, he vaguely noticed other shapes intertwined in the labyrinthian tendrils of the giant. As he pondered wether or not they resembled human faces, he was engulfed by darkness. Within the roots of the Allmother, he quickly succumbed to a process sporting the efficiency of an act utilized many times before. The Orozians saw nothing of the Baker, nor heard anything from within. They knew she had accepted their offering as the roots begin to swarm wildly in satisfaction, red, white and grey dripping off the plant.
And thus the process began anew. From the knothole formed in the roots, a small form emerged. The Midwife gently retrieved the mewling babe from within the tree. She brushed the embryonic green fluid from the child and raised it aloft. The community gasped with silent gratitude. The child was passed from hand to joyous hand until it arrived at its destination. The Midwife gently took the child from Artist, opened the large shed doors and placed the being amongst its own. They were precious. They lined the interior of the shed in perfect columns and rows, silent and still. Within time they would join the Community, free from the danger of the Germination as their benefactor had decreed.
As the Midwife closed the doors, a single yellow flower was present amongst the grey and ruinous Garden. It had not been there before and the Ozorians were overjoyed at their validation. They didn’t care for the moans of the Germinated ones outside their barrier. They knew more would come in time and another seed would be planted to bring more life to their Garden.
And that day would be a very special day indeed.