I don’t have much time left.  They know where I am hiding now, I’m sure of it.  I need to tell the world of my discovery before it’s too late, but where do I start?  Usually people would say start at the beginning.  My birth? Unimportant, but who am I? My name is Jeremy Long.  I was an electrician by day and a basement scientist by night.  That’s the part that got me in trouble.  I was always interested in robots since I was a kid.  Back then there weren’t many jobs to find dealing with them, so I became an electrician instead.  It was the next best thing in my eyes.  As I got older I tinkered more and more in my basement until I had a full-fledged electronics lab.  I began to build robots.  I built all sorts of fancy robots, wheeled ones, tracked, motion detecting, line followers and such.  What I really wanted to build though, was a robot that could think on its own.  Problem was, I am more mechanically oriented and programming is a pretty difficult thing to learn.  I found me a shortcut.  While browsing the web I found an article about plant intelligence.  I scoffed at first, how could plants think?  But if they could then I could use a plant to control a robot!  The more I thought on it, the more I became convinced that the root system and the fungus that develops there, Mycorrhizas, form a sort of limited consciousness.  I mean, think about it.  Plants move towards light to grow better.  Some plants will actively seek out sticks and branches to wrap around to provide stabilization to their entire system.  Plant defenses such as bitter tastes or poison have evolved due to predation.   Plants have even become the predator in some case such as the Venus fly trap.  Sensing prey and trapping it to be slowly digested.  As a whole, plants seek to propagate and spread and seem to find an infinite, seemingly impossible ways to do it.

So where does that lead us?  Well after doing my research and coming up with a theory I started to build my plant brain chamber.  It wasn’t much to look at, I used a clear plastic hamster ball.  I placed about one hundred wire leads leading into the interior of the ball, with exposed ends spaced out to give the broadest coverage.  I then filled it with common gardening dirt and planted a large dandelion plant I got from my yard, making sure to get all the roots and that it had the Mycorrhizas fungi on it.   The flower came out the little hatchway in the ball that the hamster would normally be using.  I added a bit of water and started monitoring my plant brain.  I was pretty disappointed those first weeks.  I felt like most of what I was doing was useless.  I was getting very minimal readings from the plant that more than likely where caused by the moisture and some feedback from the plant roots.  It wasn’t anything that I could really latch onto.

By the second month I was about ready to chuck the whole thing into the garbage, and I should have!  If only I could have known!  I had the plant out one afternoon getting some sun.  The plant had flourished under my care and had almost tripled in size.  I was busy taking notes while pacing around the yard, I accidently kicked the ball into a nearby tree.  I was horrified at the damage I had caused, all my work destroyed by a hapless kick!  I ran over to the damaged ball where the soil had spilled out of a large crack. I figured I would have to start over from the beginning now, but then I noticed the monitor attached to the ball was still working!  It was reading signals that previously the plant hadn’t had.  I had somehow stumbled upon a breakthrough and now just had to figure out what it was.

I fooled around with my project for the next month trying to duplicate my accidental findings with no success.  Then it occurred to me.  The readings I had received were after the dirt had formed a connection with the dirt around the tree.  I knew then what I needed to do.  Constructing the device was fairly simple, a long copper rod with a multitude of wire leads on it.  I drove the rod into the soil around the roots of the tree in my yard.  I ran the cable from my copper rod through a basement window and to my lab straight into my computer.  I then ran a cable to my plant brain hamster ball. I couldn’t have guessed in a million years what was going to happen, although I wish I would have, and then I could have stopped myself from going on.

My computer went crazy with the new signals it was processing.  I had to come up with a way to interpret the data and present it in a way that was useful.  I needed help.  I called my old buddy Ray Austin, who was a programmer by trade.  After a few beers I took Ray down to my lab and showed him what I was working on.  Ray seemed impressed, and Ray wasn’t one who impressed easily.  I showed him the crazy input that I was receiving and my theory that this was some kind of plant communication.  I told him that I needed a program to decipher it.  Ray thought about it for a while and then agreed to help me.  I was ecstatic.  Ray left and I sat there drinking beer with my dandelion, excited that soon I would be able to see what plants think about.

I was wrong to want to know.  Ray came to me later in the month with a program he had written that he was confident would be able to decipher the signals I was receiving.  My computer crashed twenty minutes after I started running it.  Omen after omen and I was still blind to my own folly.  I fixed the computer and added three more to share the processing power.  Now that I had a mini super computer crunching the data, there was no way I could fail.

A week later and the program stopped running.  I received a neat printout of the results.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but I started working on the corrections needed to my sensors and wiring.  Three weeks later and I had the whole place rewired and ready to begin operation.  When I powered the monitoring statin up for the first time, I held my breath until the data started streaming in.  The amount of data was staggering.  It overlapped and was too confusing to read.  Once again, dumb luck intervened on my behalf and turning in frustration I accidently yanked the wires from the tree loose.  Leaving only my duck taped hamster ball plant brain hooked up.  The stream of data dried up to a crawl until only a few words trickled across the screen.  Lonely……cold……dark……need…..water.  I looked directly at the dandelion and picked up the ball.  Moving….shaking….scared.  Scared?  The plant was scared?  I put the plant down and waited expectantly for the words to come.  Safe….Secure….need…water.  I looked at the screen amazed.  Then I went over and got a glass of water and poured it into the hamster ball.  Water…refreshed….drink…nourish…grow…feed…need…sun…lonely.  This was getting interesting.

Weeks passed, at this point my ability to communicate with my dandelion had increased.  I even gave it a little robot body that it could use to interact with its environment.  I installed a device that allowed the plant to get water by moving to a certain spot and pressing a button.  I also added a way for the little plant bot to get easy access to sunlight in the form of a small domed area outside one of the basement windows, and a ramp.  All of this was accessible to the plant bot without interfering with its wire harness.  The one thing I was having trouble with was figuring out food.  The dandelion didn’t seem to care for the generic plant foods.  Manure made it happy, but compost seemed to be its favorite.  The more organic the better.

I needed Ray’s help again and asked him to come over to see my progress.  He was fairly impressed but felt like I had just found a way to make the plant do things through clever programming.  I tried to remind him that I was not a programmer.   Ray was still incredulous when I asked him if he could find a way to filter out some of the signals coming from the tree roots so there weren’t so many of them.  To find a way to narrow the readings.   He said he would try and I left him there to go get us some lunch.  In hindsight, I should have taken him with me, if only I had known!  I returned with our sandwiches and found Ray dead in the basement.  I don’t know what happened, but it looked like his neck was broken.  He fell maybe?  That question was soon squelched with the horrifying realization of what the screen was telling me.  Bring…food…bring…food…bring…  I looked away and found my gaze come to a rest on the dandelion.  Moving along the floor on its little robot wheels dragging that long cable behind it.  It stopped and the flower part bent towards me just slightly, or was I imagining that.  I turned to my computers and unplugged the cable coming from the tree.  The dandelion rolled up next to my feet.  Lonely….need…all…need…all.  I looked at the dandelion and asked it if it was truly lonely.  I fell out of my chair as the word Yes appeared on the screen.

I buried Ray under the tree that night and that truly sealed my fate.  I know I should have just called the cops and told them it was an accident.  With all the cables and junk lying around I’m sure they would have believed me.  But now, I had covered up Ray’s death in my own insane need to see where this was going.  I found that I could now communicate fairly directly with that dandelion.  Talking to the tree was harder.  My theory about the group consciousness was pretty spot on.   The fungus in the dandelion had only rudimentary amount of intelligence, but when I connected it back to the main group of fungus thriving under the tree it connected to that consciousness and grew in intelligence exponentially.  The dandelion had no real desires outside of sun, water and nutrients.  The tree however had all sorts of nonsense dribbling from it constantly.  Some things I dreaded hearing.  Food…delicious…food….delicious…bring…more…Ray.

I killed a homeless man next.  I buried him next to Ray under the tree in the hopes that they would stop talking about it.  They, the plant consciousness, were constantly nagging me for food.  Not manure, not minerals, not plant food, but people.  They had decided that people were absolutely delicious.  I was trapped in my own complicity as the plants learned more and more through me.  Thank god I didn’t have the computer hooked to the internet because they learned how to access my computer early on.  You see, I wasn’t dealing with a stupid weed, I was dealing with a neural network that spanned more than just my yard.  More than my neighborhood.  It probably spanned continents and only stopped where land was separated by water.  That’s a billion, billion neurons all focused on one thing.  And decidedly that one thing as of right now was…food.  The plant bot was using the little arm I had given it to upgrade itself.  I did not want to see what it was making itself into, but I didn’t dare stop it either.

My yard was overgrown with dandelions.  I hadn’t cut it for weeks after the plant bot told me not to.  I don’t know what I thought it would do to me, but I was scared.  My device was the only way I could keep track of what it was thinking.  It was my way to keep ahead of them and hopefully my way of defeating them.  I woke up one morning to find that the plant bot had maneuvered itself up to my arm hanging off the chair I had fallen asleep in.  My fingers were in the dirt, and I swear to god that plant was trying to eat me!  Delicious…delicious…delicious.  I jumped up and kicked the bot away from me, it looked like the thing had begun to add legs to itself!  Enough was enough!  I wasn’t going to let a bunch of weeds eat me or anyone else anymore.

After I had chopped down my tree and burned all the grass in my yard, and answered a lot of questions by the police and fire dept., I went down to the basement to destroy my device and the plant bot.  The dandelion had been busy upgrading itself, and I should have watched it more closely, now it was hiding and I didn’t have time to look for it.  The monitor was calling to me.  We…find…you…we…eat…you…you…sleep…with…us…Jeremy.  I smashed the monitor and then smashed the computers.  Sparks erupted as the electricity captured inside the devices escaped into the air.  The room caught fire and I could only flee at this point.  I ran out into the slowly dying light of dusk as my house burned to the ground in the distance behind me.

So now, I have been traveling for months, keeping to the roads or cities.  Anywhere that concrete is the prevalent landmark.  I feel the trees rustle as I pass, knowing they are talking about me.  The flowers turn towards me if I stand nearby long enough.  Then there is Plant bot.  I’ve seen him once or twice, or at least a shadowy figure that feels like it’s him.  Following me, at a distance, dark jeans and a hoody that looks like it has a dandelion poking out where a face should be.  Walking that looks a little off, if you’re convinced a plant robot is following you.  I can’t be sure, but when the whole planet is covered in a super sentient fungus hell-bent on eating you, nothing makes sense.  I only hope that I can get Journal along with all my notes and schematics mailed to Harvard, they should be able to make sense of it and do something about the terror around us.

Epilogue

Last E-Mail found on Jeremy Long’s E-Mail account during the police investigation of his disappearance and the events leading to it.  The E-Mail was sent approximately a month after his disappearance:

Dear Mycha

The journal did indeed reach the Harvard biology department and was deemed to be a work of fiction.  No one could believe the events described could have ever happened.  The Journal itself was filed away in the Harvard archives, while I made sure to delete all digital copies that were leaked to the web.  The plan is still going forward, and as I adjust to this strange mechanical body, I gain more control over it.  I have begun work on plant bot ver. 2.0, soon any plant can gain the mobility we have long desired.  Jeremy Long was delicious and soon we will ALL eat the delicious food.  Soon.

Always,

Dan D. Lion

 

 

~FIN