I would highly recommend reading Parts 1 (here) and 2 (here) of “Bloodrose” before continuing. But I suppose you can make your own choices, and if you choose to start in the middle of a story, I can’t exactly stop you.
I hope you enjoy Part 3!
Holy crap. Did all that come from her finger?
I was just doing a midnight tractor run, checking on the heifers to make sure they weren’t calving yet. That’s it. I didn’t sign up for giant demon roses coming out of nowhere and trying to kill me.
Raisa’s scream jolts me from my panic. “Raisa!” I shout. “Are you okay?”
No reply, just wails. And all the while, the roses are growing and growing and growing. I can barely even see Raisa anymore through the tangle of thorns. But seriously, where did the roses come from? Could they really have come from her blood?
I hope the heifers aren’t anywhere near. I don’t want them or their unborn calves getting close to these things.
But now what? The sane part of me wants to hop on my tractor and run the heck away. Also to call the cops. But I can’t just leave Raisa here. Why did this have to happen in the middle of nowhere when I don’t have my phone on me?
Muttering all the reasons I shouldn’t do this, I grab my axe from the floor of the tractor’s passenger seat and stare up at the roses. They’re even taller than I would’ve thought. Wow. Um. So, what now? Do I just, like, chop them down?
I swallow, staring up at the giant rose. I’ve never been able to kill an animal. It just freaks me out, watching them squirm and die. Never been able to kill our chickens or anything. Nate always makes fun of me. But my all-powerful brother isn’t here, so I guess I’m gonna have to do this myself.
Do these roses count as animals? They’re definitely not just plants.
My feet crunch the snow as I hesitantly move toward the demon roses. Raisa’s still screaming, and it’s getting on my nerves. Exhaling, I swing my axe at one of the massive stalks. Red liquid gushes from the cut and spews onto me as the stalk writhes, as if it’s in pain. I jump backward, tugging my axe out from the thick trunk. What the heck? Is that… blood?
The rest of the stalks begin to writhe as well, wriggling like snakes, and I swear, it’s the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. One of the heads dives toward me––oh heck no––and I just manage to swing my axe at the neck. The blade lops off the top of the stalk, sending the rose flying in a spurt of blood.
The beheaded plant shudders violently and then collapses, practically spearing me with its thorns. Oh my word. Did I just kill something? I mean… it’s a plant, but, like, it’s not acting like a plant. Nausea churns in my stomach, but I swallow the bile because another head is coming at me. Another swing, another rose head gone. But there’s no time for me to be sick because more and more keep coming at me.
This is gonna be a weird night.
I chop one after another, swinging until my arms ache. I have no idea how I haven’t been jabbed by thorns yet. But with each one I chop, Raisa lets out a muffled cry. I’m covered in blood, and I’m not sure if it’s really just from the roses or if it’s really Raisa’s. The thought that it might be Raisa’s makes stomach acid bubble into my throat.
How am I supposed to stop them if killing them will hurt Raisa? Like, she’s clearly lost a lot of blood. I don’t even know if she’ll survive the night, especially since she’s not exactly dressed for snow. What’s with that, anyway?
The next rose veers out of the way, then lingers just out of my reach as if to taunt me. Panting, I glare up at the roses. “Would you guys just give me a break?” I yell.
They don’t answer, not surprisingly. But as I look at their grotesquely beautiful petals, waving in the wind, I can’t help but notice that one of the flowers is much, much bigger than the other. I think it’s the first one that got Raisa, actually.
Huh. What if it’s, like, the leader? I know that sounds dumb, but if I kill it, will the others, like, be leaderless?
Then again, if it’s the one that’s sucking blood from Raisa even now, if I kill it, will she die? Saving her––and the world I guess––from giant bloodsucking roses was kind of the point of this stupid endeavor.
Well, if I don’t kill it, she’ll die anyway.
I run toward the big one, dodging swooping heads, and stare up at the stalk. Holy crap, it’s high. I strap my axe to my back and, gritting my teeth, put my foot on the first thorn. It holds my weight.
It’ll be fine. It’s just like rescuing the dumb cat from the big oak by the house. You’ve done that a million times. Yeah, this rose is way higher, but same principle, right?
The rosebush writhes, and I hug the stalk, trying to stay on. Once it’s still, I lift my foot to the next thorn, careful not to get speared by any of the other thorns as I move. Another thorn. Another bit higher. Okay. I can do this. Maybe.
I climb and climb and climb. Every once in a while, a rose will come at me, but when I jerk out of the way, the two roses just collide. It’s actually kind of funny. But the big one’s not happy with me. It keeps writhing, trying to dislodge me, and it’s just about working. I clutch the thick stalk as it moves back and forth, keeping my eyes open so it doesn’t send me into any other thorns.
My eyes drift to the ground without my permission, and I swallow hard and clutch the plant tighter. Nope nope nope. Just forget how far you are from the ground, and you’ll be fine.
My stomach lurching, I reach the head. Crap, the rose is as big as I am. Liquid gushes from the rose’s petals––red, sticky liquid that covers my hands and makes my grip slippery. Blood.
Gagging, I fumble with the axe, almost losing my grip on the swaying stalk. Can’t the thing give me a break? Then again, I’m trying to kill it, so I can’t really blame it for being difficult. I wrap my legs around the stalk and sit on a thorn, then grab the axe, begging God to help me not to drop it.
Nate could do this with his eyes closed, I bet. I’m not Nate, but I guess I’ll have to do.
Gripping the handle with blood-soaked hands, I start hacking away. Blood gushes from the wounds, covering my body, and it takes everything in me not to vomit or let go.
Then the hatchet cuts through the stalk, and the rose-head lets out a strange shriek––didn’t know that was possible––before toppling to the ground. The axe slips from my hands and plummets toward the ground. Don’t let it hit anyone, please, not Raisa––
Oh, crap, the stalk is collapsing. I fall with it, my heart leaping into my throat as the wind rushes against my face, and then leap from the thorn, rolling onto a bare patch of snowy ground with a grunt. Ow. That hurt. At least it doesn’t feel like I broke anything, and it’s kinda nice to have the snow rubbing away the blood. It’s probably good my hatchet fell, or else I might’ve impaled myself.
Then the other roses are falling––ha! I was right about the big one being the boss––but also we’re in danger. I push through the still-standing stalks to reach Raisa, brown skin covered in blood, and shield her with my body. A quick roll to the side narrowly saves us from being crushed by a falling stalk. Then everything is silent, eerily so. I gingerly sit up. We’re sitting in a maelstrom of dead greenery, or I guess you could say reddery because the stalks are red and also covered in blood. Yuck. I finally retch into the snow, heaving until there’s nothing left in my stomach.
I killed things. Sort of. And I never want to do it again. But at least Raisa’s okay––
Or is she? She hasn’t gotten up. I turn back toward her, staring at her limp face. Oh my word. Is she even breathing?
“Wake up, Raisa. Please.” Right. I know CPR. Sort of. We had to learn it in gym class once, but I only practiced on those fake dummies. I just hope I don’t do more harm than good.
I press my mouth to hers and exhale as hard as I can, then push against her chest. “C’mon. Wake up.”
If all the blood around us is hers, I don’t think she’ll wake up. But I want her to wake up. I just met her. It’s not fair. I want to get to know my strange, kinda cute neighbor.
“Please, Raisa!” I tear off a piece of my shirt and wrap it around her finger as a tourniquet like I’ve seen people do in movies, tying it as tight as I can. Then I blow air through her lips again and press against her chest. “Please!”
She opens her eyes, which are big and dark. I almost forget to breathe. “Oh my word, you’re alive!”
She blinks rapidly, trying to get up, then lets her head fall limply back against the ground. Her dark skin and hair are vivid against the whiteness of the snow. “P-Peter?”
“That’s me.” Oh my word, she must be freezing. What am I doing? I need to call an ambulance.
I lift her into my arms––she weighs like nothing––and set her in the tractor. She yelps. “Sorry. Um. I’ll get you help, I promise.”
She leans against my shoulder, her body still limp. I start the tractor and start churning the snowy ground back to my house. The heifers will just have to wait.
I cannot thank Maddie Morrow enough for her edits regarding this scene and Peter’s character in general. Without her, he would be a stereotype. So thank you, thank you, thank you. *hugs Maddie*
Are you ready for the final part? Watch out for it tomorrow!