There’s not much time left. We should have done something sooner.
It took thirty hours from the time it was first spotted until the duty officer woke me. In that time it grew twenty times over. I went out with the first group of scientists, rushing to an isolated farm in the hills of North Carolina. We found the gelatinous blob of white tissue, glistening and folded upon itself like fat, nestled between the stalks of corn. The plants closest to it looked yellowed. A thick reek of sewage filled the air, held close by the humidity.
We wasted days running tests while it grew. The corn wilted and died in circular waves centered on the thing, but no one attributed plants dying miles away to the growth at first. In a month, the soil had grown brittle and dry, like there had been years of drought and searing sun. Not a plant within miles still lived.
We struck in panic. Flamethrowers had no effect. The fire wrapped around the smooth, greasy surface and guttered without a singe. By the time I ordered the airstrikes, it was a fatty tumor twenty stories high. Napalm, incendiaries, irradiated munitions, nothing had an effect. It just rippled and grew. Bombs blew writhing chunks for miles. They took root where they landed.
Now the dead zone radius is hundreds of miles, maybe over a thousand. Rotting clumps of seaweed clog the shores. The coast expands by the day leaving choked and dying fish covered in blisters. The eastern seaboard is filled with huge, reeking columns.
And still it grows. And grows. And grows.
Joseph Benedict lives and writes in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Image by Ross Bennetts