-Over here! George ran down the long side. Pike passed the ball. George went in, alone with the goal keeper. Kicked as hard as he… Mike came sliding in. Kicked him in the leg.
The ball hit the pole and bounced back. Rolled some feet and stopped abruptly. George lay on the ground.
-Penalty! Pike said. -Damn Mike! Are you OK, George?
George got up on his feet. -I’m fine. And this means we’re winning.
He went to pick the ball up up.
-That’s strange… there’s some kind of weed growing around it.
The others gathered around. It grew fast, like the hand of some kind of dirt monster coming up from the ground. It grabbed the ball, held it.
-What the… What is that? Pike said in astonishment. -It just grew up from the soil… just like that!
-It has our ball.
-Well, we need it back, George said. He walked closer, reached out towards the plant.
-Wait… Mike was too late. The plant closed its grip around George’s hand.
-Let go! George tried to pull free. -Help me!
Mike grabbed George’s other arm, making sure he held a distance to the strange thing. He pulled him with all his strength. Others came to help.
-Aaaah! Stop, you’re pulling my arm off!
They all just stood there for a while, watching the plant holding the ball and George’s hand.
-It hurts! George complained. -Get something to cut it down or something, goddammit!
Johnny lived nearby. He jumped the fence and ran home. Walked into his father’s workshop, got and axe, a saw and a crow bar.
This should do it, he thought, and ran off.
The plant dropped the ball, fastened the grip around George’s hand.
-There he comes! Mike pointed at Johnny. -Don’t worry George, we’ll get you loose.
Johnny gave the saw to Pike and the crow bar to Mike. He walked over with the axe. Lifted it. Cut it into the stem.
-What.. What’s wrong, George?
-It hurts! It hurts, goddammit!
Pike started sawing. George screamed again.
-Stop! Stop cutting! It hurts like hell!
-Does the plant hurt you?
-No, you stupid fuck! You hurt me! Stop cutting!
They stopped. They tried to bend his arm loose with the crow bar, but there was no way. It was like the plant was stuck to his arm in a deeper way than just the grip. They seemed to be glued together… or even united.
-What do we do?
-Maybe we should call the emergency number or something.
They sat around George and the plant as they could hear the sirens of the fire engine arriving. George was looking pale.
-Are… are they coming soon?
-Hang in there, George! They’re just around the corner! The boys exchanged worried looks.
The fire engine came, and three fire men jumped out.
-We got a message there was someone stuck to a tree or something around here?
Mike held out a shaking finger.
The fire fighter looked confused. -But… I only see a… plant?
He walked closer. It was big, growing wildly in strange loops. Between the branches he could see a figure, like a human body. A face, twisted in fear and agony, frozen in a scream. Wooden, like the rest of it.