Berries

Michael plummeted from the sky, water drops hitting his face as he fell through the fog. A lightning bolt narrowly missed him, hitting the coffee table at which he had sat moments before. The table splintered into tiny fragments, and the fog was gone. All Michael could see was the furniture and decorations of his living room, and the thunderhead from which it all fell.

Michael landed in the lake with a sickening splash, and barely dodged his collector’s bowling ball as it followed suit. Michael scrambled from the water and into the nearby woods, and watched as the furnishings landed and broke. As he sat under a tree, he noticed something peculiar. The rain was falling up. He could see the streams and puddles flowing and splashing in rivers as the raindrops fell into the cloud. The world was getting drier, not wetter, in the storm. As the clouds withdrew and the rain stopped, the sun looked out on a dry place indeed.

What was this place? Michael realized that he had no idea. One minute, he was in his living room, and the next, he was falling from the sky. Far from a typical evening, to say the least. Yet, here he was, lying in a grassy patch of a lakeside forest, bruised, wet, confused, and a little peckish.

Yes, he was peckish indeed. Where could he find food? He searched for food and quickly found it. Nearby was a little berry bush. Without a second thought, he plucked one of those purple-black berries from the bush and popped it into his mouth.

Oh, how lovely it was. Michael grinned, the juices running along his tongue, giving him a pleasurable chill throughout his body. He loved this food so much, and he felt full already. He went to sleep, relaxed and stuffed, he would find out where he was later.

As Michael awoke, he had another berry, and decided to, as thanks, give it a bit of lake water. So, to the stream he walked, hands cupped, and scooped out some water. As he turned back, he swore the bush seemed a little wilted. So, he poured another handful of water on. Immediately, hundreds of berries burst into bloom, nice and ripe.

Michael’s stomach rumbled. He was so hungry that he ate two berries. Was it his imagination, or were they less flavorful than before? He ate another berry to be safe. As he finished, he felt utterly stuffed, so he slept again.

This is how it went for several days. Michael would water the bush, eat to fill his growing hunger, and sleep. He began to forget how he got here, but he wanted to keep the bush growing and the berries blooming, so he did.

One day, he ate his 18 berry meal (the flavor had weakened, but more berries made it better) and he noticed something. The bush was still wilted. He went to the lake for more water, but to his horror, it was dry! Panicking, Michael looked around for more sustenance, and found it. He watered the bush that day, not with water, but with the juice of apples, nectar from flowers, and honey from hives; the bush grew again as it always had.

Soon, however, the berries didn’t grow fast enough! Micheal was eating the berries faster than they could grow back! The morning of this discovery, he had to eat the only two berries remaining, and the fruit that grew after he watered the bush wasn’t enough. He needed to give it more.

An idea struck Michael. Looking about what had once been a lake bed, he found a flat little stone. He hammered it against a larger rock, and the edge was sharp before long. Smiling, Michael took the jagged, sharpened rock and brought it across his palm. As the blood flowed onto the bush, he was delighted to see all of those berries grow.

This was more than a bush in front of him now, it was a feast! Michael decided to celebrate. He put as many berries into his mouth as he could, relishing their… bitterness! He spat the berries out, and he saw them for what they truly were. The memories flooded back. The pills before him were the same ones that he had taken all those years ago, the ones that had driven him to robbery to acquire, and the ones that had sent him into this coma!

Michael looked down, and saw the shackles on his body, made of thorns, and vines, and ivy, and brambles. The shackles bound him to the bush. Michael screamed, but soon, his horror turned to grim determination. He pushed past the pains, and ripped a vine from his arm. It hurt terribly, and that hunger he knew all too well returned, but he continued nonetheless. Finally, he was free!

His body hurt, but his mind did not. He knew what he would say, what he would do, if he woke. He knew that he would free himself. He would let the bush bind him no longer.

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