2019 Winners and Honourable Mentions

CATEGORY C : 18 - 24 YEARS
Day 3: Flora
12 June 2019

WINNER

The Carnivores
Nadia Mikail


When the flowers grew carnivorous, we did not stop giving them to each other.

Some of the more brightly coloured flowers, like the roses or the carnations, grew a sticky mutilage, an outer layer like glue that trapped prey-- waited for them to squirm, helpless and trapped, until they died, and then slowly dissolved them. They did not need to do much. Brightly coloured, insects flocked to them. Red and blue and yellow, we touched them, and then had to surgically get the petal removed, otherwise it would leave a deep acid burn.

A few like the flamingo flowers, or the bleeding hearts, grew larger, tougher, and learned to open and snap shut quickly enough to trap flies, bees, and even tiny birds. A blink of the eye and you would see muffled movement inside the flower, but that was the only indication of anything that had been alive a moment ago.

Others, the bigger flowers, sunflowers and lilies, evolved into beings akin to pitcher plants. These became the most dangerous-- you touched them, and they would close around your finger, and you would feel something sharp, something biting. If you did not hack away at the root, within minutes you'd be left with a thumb and a ring finger, if you were lucky.

We did not know why this happened, at first. It had not occurred within years. It hadn't even taken a week. We had woken up and the flowers had begun eating us. Accelerated evolution, scientists said. 

For our first anniversary, my boyfriend sent me a beautiful bouquet of white lilies, white daisies, white roses. They had been carefully inspected to ensure their deaths, with a layer of wax that added to human protection. It was lovely. It must've cost a fortune. I texted him a heartfelt thank you.

I left the bouquet on the table. I went to take a vase. But I could not shake the feeling of unease-- like I had left more there than just dead leaves and petals.

This is what the scientists had said: when the air had become so polluted we'd all had to wear masks outside, there was no protection for the flowers, fragile and beautiful and utterly unimportant in the human scheme of things. They had been forced to obtain the nutrients they needed some other way. I remembered an article I'd read on Wikipedia: When there is a shortage of nutrients, prey capture and digestion has the greatest impact on photosynthesis.

Survival of the species. They'd known they were dying: they'd changed accordingly, to something fierce and vicious, still blooming and lovely.

The vase was filled with water. I returned slowly to the table. I watched the long petals of the lilies, admired the boldness of the daisies, and mourned the roses, graceful even in death. How much would we, the human race, as a species, evolve to survive, as our planet grew more uninhabitable?

I took the flowers outside and quietly buried them.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

A Rose By Any Other Name
Lancelan Pegan anak Roland Sagah


A new day had dawned in the city. The cars and trains buzzed to life like a wave, slowly growing as the sun rose to its place in the sky. In every apartment room and loft, the people rose from their beds and freshened themselves up for the day ahead.

Yet, something in the air was different. Something set apart from the electricity in the air but invigorating all the same. An intangible feeling went through the winding streets and alleyways of the metropolis, rousing everyone and everything in its path. There was something new in the air.

There was something alive.

The people of the city descended to a wide, green field. Despite its appearance, this emerald expanse was merely astroturf, a pale imitation of what it once held. In the centre, there was a brick-red circle. Every camera was trained on this circle, relaying footage to projectors at the sides. The citizens converged at the sides of the field, eager to glimpse at what they had waited for for years through the screens.

Speeches were given. The leaders of the sprawling city spoke of the importance of this milestone, a culmination of years of research and conservation. A way to reverse history. A way to bring back the colour, lost for far too long in this world.

As the clock ticked down to the big moment, some were starting to tear up. Finally, they would be able to witness what they once had only seen in archives or models. Their descendants would forever remember this moment as one of the most important events of this era, perhaps even one of the most important events in all of history!

“5...”

“4…”

“3…”

“2…”

“1…”

The moment had come at last. With bated breath, the citizens stared at the screen as something began to emerge from the circle.

From the ground, a verdant green stalk erupted. Atop it, a ball of red stood, almost proudly. In the dead silence of the crowd, the scarlet ball began to unfurl.

Almost as light as the air, the once-solid ruby ball unfolded and spiralled into a mesmerising group of folds and pleats. Each swirl and curve drew more surprise from the crowd. They could not believe their eyes. Eventually, it completely fanned out into an intricate, red spiral of delicate petals. The crowd was agape, in sheer shock and surprise.

Then, the aroma began to rise. The strong scent of the newly-bloomed plant quickly spread out through the field. As the delicate fragrance slowly drifted through the air, the crowd snapped out of their awe-struck expressions. A cheer quickly grew and spread throughout the crowd.

They knew it meant the start of a new age of history. They knew it meant a change for the better. Finally, an upward trend. Even as they lost the old name for the plant to history, everyone experienced its sheer beauty.

The flowers returned, and it was as sweet as their forerunners had said it would.


Guardian
Christabel Anfield Sim Wanwen


My name is Flora. Every plant, annual, biennial or perennial, was placed under my care. And so I spread my plants across the globe to flourish the lands. I sent ferns, vines, mosses, palms, and orchids to grow in the tropics, and in more temperate regions, I sent maple trees, birch, oak, cedars, cypress, pines, and spruce. These regions, I named forest.

I like growing pretty flowers as well. I sent my prettiest flowers to ornament the fields. Rows of bird cherries, daisies, prim roses, rose angels, snowdrops, and sweet violets lined the land, and it was indeed a sight to behold. Uncle Sea would share some of his water, and Aunty Sky would deliver it to all my children. And when the rain fell, my children danced. Petals and leaves bounced gently to the patter of rain, cleansing them, and quenching their thirst.

My twin brother, fauna, cared for the animals. Brother’s herbivorous animals would feed off my nutritious crops and grow strong, and when the time came his animals would return to the soil, and help my plants grow strong as well. We lived in perfect harmony, and Mother Earth was proud of the both of us.

“Sister, come and take a look at this”, my brother said. I stared in wonder at this new creature. It walked on two legs, and was highly intelligent. We soon fell in love with them. Brother fauna and I fed them with our crops and meat, and they grew up strong. The men would soon learn how to plant their own crops, and their harvests were bountiful. And men had not neglected my flowers. In fact, they were grown specially to be used in ceremonies, like weddings and graduations. I smiled upon men. Whatever they took, they always gave back. I could depend on men to take care of my children, as men loved them as well.

As time passed on, men multiplied, and eventually there was a shortage of land. They had decided to cut down my forests to build more houses. It pained me at first, but then I knew that they would give back, as they always had.  And so my trees were cut. Men settled in and had more families.

Time crawled by, and once again men needed more land. And so forests were cleared yet again, but this time it didn’t stop. Trees were felled, again, and again, faster than they could be replanted. Men now had more houses, but brother’s animals were left hungry and homeless. I was deeply pained.

Yet I still had faith in men.

Summer passed, then autumn followed, and a long winter after. And when spring came, flowers bloomed in a magnificent array of colours, and the fruit trees bore fruit, and the crops were bountiful once more, and the trees sprouted from the earth. My heart sang with joy at the sight. Men had realised their mistakes and were finally making amends. I knew I could depend on them.