Another Opening Line Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig’s blog in which you can pick your favorite first line and go with it. This particular line seemed too fun to resist.
The ficus is plotting to kill me.
I know this because when I wake up, the ficus stands next to my pillow. It holds a sign that says in messy black Sharpie: I AM PLOTTING TO KILL YOU STEVE.
Oh crap. I sigh as I throw back the sheets and stretch. The ficus ripples its leaves in a rather ominous and creepy pattern but all I see is the huge amount of dust gathered on it. I should have thrown out that fake plant years ago but someone once told me greenery makes an apartment happier.
Now the damn thing wants to kill me. I am not happier. Theory completely disproved.
Goosebumps on my arms tell me that I should trash the ficus now before it causes some real trouble. The ficus follows me down the hall in a shuffle-shuffle of determination. I’m just needing to piss but obviously it wants to try to kill me now.
“Just hang on. Damn,” I say. Standing and facing the ficus, I take in that it is actually slightly taller than me. I hate that I am sizing it up. This is not like the time I had a showdown with the toothbrush. At least that day, the toothbrush just wanted to sing opera. It was inconvenient to not be able to brush my teeth the whole day and listen to weird ass tiny singing from the bathroom but it had been harmless.
This is different. The ficus is clearly malevolent.
“You want to kill me, right?” I ask.
The ficus ripples its leaves in agitated confirmation.
“How do you know killing me won’t turn you back into ‘Made In China’?”
The leaves stop.
I turn and slam the bathroom door shut. I need to shower in peace and figure out how the hell I am going to make it through this day.
I can only reason with the ficus so much before it remembers how much it likes its original idea more.
* * *
I know kids grow up being told they are special but I doubt any of those kids started out life as a little puppet doll. That was over twenty years ago, and I have pretty much assimilated into society as “a real boy” ever since. Except for one tiny detail.
Whatever magic brought me to life still hangs on to me now. Every day that magic randomly chooses to bring to life an inanimate object near me.
Hence, the opera singing toothbrush and the murderous ficus.
And my friends all wonder why I never invite women over.
* * *
After showering, I step from the bathroom to find the ficus standing there with several of my steak knives wrapped in its branches. Good thing I don’t own a good butcher knife set. It swipes at me but the knives go flying because well, branches suck as hands.
“Yeah, you’re gone,” I mutter as I grab it by the trunk. I get the image of strangling it by the throat. Then I cram it in a nearby coat closet. As I scramble to pull on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I hear the thwump-thwump-thwump of the ficus beating itself against the closet door.
The door sounds like it wants to splinter. Damn. That is some serious plant rage.
As I approach the closet again, now fully dressed, I see that the door itself shakes on its hinges. And doubt, insidious and black, creeps into my brain, making me wonder if I can even survive throwing this damn thing out. Should I wear gloves? A helmet?
Just get it into the compactor.
After a pause, I yank open the door and the ficus falls over onto the floor. It twists and writhes. I grab it by the trunk as it brings the decorative base up to nail me in the shin.
“Ouch, damn it!”
Then it crashes its branches over my head. I turn it sideways to avoid its head and kicking base.
Squeezing through the front door is a bitch. Thank God I don’t have to take any stairs or else it would really succeed in killing me. I don’t even care who sees me or thinks me a complete lunatic wrestling with a fake plant to the trash compactor. I stumble the whole way there.
When I throw that son of a bitch in, I do it with a whoop of glee.
I hear the sound of the ficus falling into the cavernous maw. Unfortunately, I can’t push the SMASH button. Only the grounds crew with the key can do that but the compactor is deep enough for peace of mind.
I wipe my hands off and smile. Getting rid of that dusty thing makes me feel like I accomplished something today. Like I just uncluttered a little bit of my life.
* * *
I come home later that night after drinks with some friends. Even in the dark, I stop first to check the compactor and see that yes, someone had pressed the SMASH button earlier. Good.
Hopefully tomorrow’s adventure is all about a salt shaker who wants to be a ballerina.
The moment I enter my apartment, goosebumps flash across my arms and I hear rustling nearby.
“No,” I breathe.
It comes at me at terrifying speed, a flurry of branches and hate. I try to scream, and the ficus shoves a large branch down my throat. I choke and spasm as I fall to my knees. My arms flail, trying to rip it off of me but more branches tie around my wrists. Dirty leaves plug my nose.
I see stars in an ever-consuming black world.
I should have never bought that damn ficus.