there is a team of us, we are in a compound in the woods, a scientific research station. a group of us had just arrived, traveling a long way from some city, to join the researchers who had been there for some time. perhaps too long. 

stretches of plexiglass, the light through the trees. rows of potted plans inside, with small hand-written labels. we were all introduced, a strange tension running through the room, but he and I were laughing about something, excited to learn some strange new thing from these people who’d been working on growing living tissue that was somewhere between plant and animal. the how of it was murky. 

some argument occurred between the two teams, and then resolved, at which point the leader of the older team, a tall man with a long beard, shoved open one of the plexiglass doors, only for a moment. members of his team instantly panicked. “Vapors will get in!” they were yelling. Our group was confused; the door opened to the outdoor path around the building, where we had walked up on our approach. We had undergone no sterilizing precautions, and had no reason to think the air we had been breathing outside was hazardous. 

somehow, everything became very dangerous and moved very fast. they had been using alien tissue to grow creatures far more ambitious than we had known, and as they were exposed to something from outside, long stretches of vine, hefty spikes of aloe, blooming flowers, they started writhing, moving violently toward us. vines like powerful snakes, and bulbs like blades, driving at our bodies. there was only one snarl, and it attacked us. the thing, or things, pierced through his body like an arrow, low on his chest. I killed it, or he did, we somehow subdued the thing, pulled it into pieces with our hands. My initial thought, and probably his, was that he would die, that one small blade gone straight through. The look on his face. All the things I wanted to say were flowery, were beautiful sentiments that would not help him, so instead I called out instructions to the others, medical equipment, the removal of the beast, calling for outside help, did we have surgical equipment. I had my hands pressed against him to hold the blood in his body, and in that moment of panic, he looked at me and grinned. We stood there, bodies pressed together motionless in a flurry of activity, and grinned at each other like fools. How strange and exciting the world is, how lucky we are to see it and for someone else to get the joke. Then we both knew, with utter certainty, that he would be fine.