A.J. Walker


Flowers of Heaven

Mid Week Flash Challenge: Week 278

Flowers of Heaven

Modelo was a handsome young man heading towards old age in a slip sliding fashion. It was easy to lose track of time when you lived alone on an island in a barely occupied planet due west of nowhere. But he enjoyed his solitary life. His mother had called him Modelo after seeing it on an old bottle in the background from some Terra documentary. She’d thought it sounded special. It had more letters than model; and models were treated as something special. It stood to reason Modelos were even more special.

Yet she got him assigned to a place where no-one had any use for a model; with or without the extra ‘O’. He was on a planet he’d possibly heard of from his school days, and then certainly on occasional news items; when he lived light years away - and still had friends and family. He had a good place to live, reasonable food and fabrication generators, and communication privileges - should he need (or wish) to use them: he rarely did.

Life was good solo and he loved his job as the island’s curator. His mother was paid an enormous stipend for allowing (sending) her only son on such a secondment. Modelo remembered thinking that secondment sounded like a description of something temporary. Decades ago as he bottled his flowers for the nineteenth time it had dawned on him that his job was not to be short term. He’d not leave the planet unless he was picked up by accident or escaped. Neither was going to happen. The only thing that left the island was the drug.

Flowers of Heaven were amongst the rarest and most delicate raw material in the universe. Countless ‘experts’ had said they could translocate the plants off world and grow them somewhere better placed (for the markets) and other experts had said they could replicate the drug the plants produced. So far none had done either in anything approaching a worthwhile fashion. And so it was that Modelo ploughed his solo furrow, on a planet with not even a city worthy of a name, as the protector of the plants; and drones.

In reality there was so much remote firepower around the island and indeed the planet that he wasn’t guarding the plants per se. He had a shield, which he soon realised was symbolical and not for defence. Not once had anyone during his tenure attempted to rob anything from the entire planet; or at least they hadn’t made it was far as the island. Modelo practiced his fighting techniques with the attack drones not because he expected to need them; the twice weekly fighting time was the closest he ever got to to a regular life. He’d even given all the drones names. He worried about that sometimes. Should you anthropomorphise an attack drone?

He decided it was best not to think about it too much, or ask anyone light years away. He’d only seen his ultimate bosses once and that was over twenty seasons ago as they were showing off the drones. They weren’t even interested in his beloved Flowers of Heaven. If he’d have had an issue they have simply replaced him.

Then came the day of the twin messages. In hindsight he assumed they thought they’d better give him the first after deciding they ought to give him the second one. The first was from a real person, or a fine approximation, who informed him of his mother’s passing. No date or reason given. She’d been old, but that was no excuse on the money she was getting. Shortly afterwards the second message came through informing him that experts now synthesised the ‘Drug of Heaven’ and that the plants he was charged with looking after were consequently worthless. To the corporation they may be worthless, to Modelo they were his life. After days of mulling things over he came to the conclusion that his mother had probably died many year ago and they’d only thought they’d better inform him whilst delivering the ‘worthless’ message. He’d be picked up ‘
if he wanted’ on the next routine circular trip to the planet: months away.

He wondered what he’d do ultimately. His expertise was rather niche. In the meantime he continued protecting the flowers and fighting his drone friends. Had anybody told them? Shit, would anyone train him to deal with people? Real people were only a concept. He wondered whether to try the drug. What was heaven really going to be?

WC: 750