by Arnold Snyder
After calling in sick to the post office, I picked up a six-pack of Perrier at the nearest quick-stop, poured one bottle into Dusty’s pot, but reconsidered trying to talk with her again right away. I was hoping her sour mood would improve with a few hours of steeping in the fizzy water.
I decided to look into the possibility that some extraordinary means—surgery, chemistry, whatever—might be used to transform a human into a plant. Making Dusty happy was one goal, but I feared I might not be the man for the job. She, after all, was a woman trapped in a plant’s body, while I was a plant trapped in a man’s body. I worried that only a real man could satisfy her. I was not a man, except on the outside. And my ultimate goal was to become a plant, inside and out, to be done with this human mockery that caused me nothing but pain and frustration.
I searched for “freelance scientists” online and found thousands. That was encouraging. I wrote up a query letter and emailed it to all that posted their email addresses, and I also posted it on some research scientists’ blogs I found. Here’s what I wrote:
Attn: All Serious Scientists
If you are working in the field of transforming humans into anything other than human and you require a healthy adult male test subject, I’m your man. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I was astonished at the response—more than two hundred people contacted me. I divided the responses into five categories: serious research scientists (0), phonies who claim to be research scientists (64), spammers trying to sell me something or get me to click on some virus (133), people like myself who just want to know more about the possibilities (8), and real weirdos (2).
It was discouraging to me that I heard from no serious scientists, but a lot of phonies. One guy, Dr. Wilfred Wagner, wrote from Germany:
I am certain that humans can only be transformed into other life forms by first using radiation to eliminate the human specific DNA code. Transforming a human to a chimpanzee would be relatively easy, as humans’ and chimps’ DNA is 98% the same. If you wish to become a dog, that would be more difficult, as humans and dogs have only 80% identical DNA. For a non-mammal, the transformation process becomes even more difficult, as you share only 15% to 60% of DNA code with most lower life forms, depending on the life form you choose. But most importantly, I want you to know: I can do it. Just tell me what life form you’d like to be and we can make history together. You must, of course, sign a waiver absolving me of responsibility should something go wrong. And then there’s my fee, which must be paid in advance.
Here’s one of the responses I got from California:
Yes, I could easily make you into any life form you choose with a regimen of vitamins and special nutrients I have developed. If you would like to begin the transformation right now, I can send you a $99 starter pack of pills that would be ideal for transforming into any of the feline or bovine species. I’m currently working on a tortoise cocktail that might also be usable for most types of lizards and frogs. My rates are reasonable but it depends on what you want to be and how hard it is to do. Call me and we’ll talk business.
This response from a girl in New York touched my heart:
I saw your post about finding a scientist who can make you into a plant. Please, if you find him, can you send me the information. All my life I’ve suffered from knowing I was a plant—specifically an Eternal Flame—that’s a type of flower from Brazil—though I’ve only seen pictures of it. I looked through a hundred books in the library for the kind of flower I was. I knew I was a flower but I didn’t know what kind. Then I saw that picture of the Eternal Flame and I knew that was me. Also are there any groups for people like us? People who know they’re supposed to be flowers or something and mostly they’re not supposed to be people? I thought I was the only one until my friend Chelsea told me she was actually a fish. My name’s Anne.
I knew I had to contact her.
I will keep you informed about any scientists I connect with who seem promising to our quest. I assure you, you are not alone. There are many of us in the world who self-identify as botanicals. Don’t know much about the piscine species though. – Morgan
Yet another email, this one from Texas:
I never should have told anyone I was a shrub. Now at school the bullies won’t leave me alone. Four days ago they glued pine needles in my hair.
I found no science that gave me any hope for transforming into a plant, but I was quickly discovering that I was far from alone in the world.
By midmorning Dusty was awake. I could hear her singing out on the balcony. Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day! She sounded downright cheerful. Is that the effect of the fizzy water?
I walked out to say good morning and offer her more Perrier, but before I could say a word, she virtually screamed at me, Tighten it!
The belt. Please tighten it.
“It’s tight enough, Dusty. I don’t want to injure you. You’re still heal-
I said tighten it. That wasn’t a request. It was an order.
“Okay, okay,” I relented, “but only a little.” I pulled the belt a notch tighter. “I’m not going to let it cut into you. I hope you’ve had a good sleep. I’ve had a wonderful day so far. I’m investigating how I can go about transforming into a real plant.”
Why on earth would you want to be a plant? This is a horrible way to live. You have no muscles. You can’t move. You’re at the mercy of the elements. You think this is enjoyable? This is hell. I want you to buy me a hat.
“A hat? What kind of hat?”
Something attractive. And I want to be dressed. Something pretty and chic.
“You want me to dress you?”
I can’t very well do it myself, can I? I want you to take me out.
“Take you out where?”
Someplace nice. Doesn’t have to be expensive, so long as they serve wine.
Morgan, get a clue. I want you to take me out on a date.
“A date? Like where?”
Are you ashamed to be seen with me?
“No. Of course not. Don’t even think that. It’s just … I’m trying to think of someplace we could go where you’d be comfortable.”
I know I’m not in a woman’s body, but I want you to dress me up so well that people who see me will believe I’m a woman. Can you do that?
“But Dusty …”
Will you do that for me? Please?
“But you’re a cactus.”
No! I’m a woman! I’m trapped in a cactus body. If you love me, the least you can do for me is help me to look like the woman I am. To dress like a woman and smell like a woman. Get me some makeup, some lipstick. I want to be dramatic. Perfume. Will I need accessories? A bag, perhaps, something that compliments my hat?”
I went back into the house and called Megan.
“You said there were transplant bars,” I said. “What do transplants do in bars?”
“The same thing everybody else does. They drink.”
“Is that all?”
“Some of them pose in plant position. The ones who are exhibitionists. They do it in groups sometimes. We could go to one tonight if you want.”
“I can’t tonight. I promised Dusty I’d take her out on a date.”
“What kind of a date?”
“I was thinking maybe a transplant bar.”
“No. Out of the question. You can’t bring a plant into a transplant bar. Not a plant like Dusty. Transplant bars are always plant-free safe zones.”
“Oh. Thanks for telling me. I’d hate to violate the transplant code of etiquette. I guess I’ll take her to a restaurant. Do you know any that serve plants?”
Go to Chapter Seven