Just as I let the final gulp of air out of my lungs, the vines pulled me back above the surface, raising me into the air. My head was still swimming, however, with thoughts of Tilly, my friends, and Allendriel. I let them down. They were dead, and it was all my fault. Tandamum was going to rise, and it was all my fault. No need to thank me, population of Earth, I'm only the man who murdered everyone.
I had never been a genocidal maniac before. I always imagined it would be more...fulfilling. Oh, well. I hope dying doesn't hurt. Being chewed and dissolved at the same time probably would, though. I should probably do something to avoid that. But what?
For some reason, I began thinking of Tilly's late husband, and how he randomly went up in flames when he was about to kill me. Well, not kill, but that's what the story will be. I don't need Sal and Diego giving me shit about what actually almost happened.
Anyway, if this plant monster wanted to burst into flames, too, that would be fantastic. I don't really want to die. Why am I just letting it eat me? What happened to the natural instinct for survival? Did that get kicked to the wayside?
"Okay, hideous plant monster, I should probably go home for the night. I'm not exactly feeling like myself. As for you, you should talk to a therapist; forcing people to not want to leave you, a term known as Stockholm Syndrome, isn't psychologically healthy." At this point I noticed that it had stopped trying to eat me, holding me above its gaping and gnashing maw. It almost seemed to be considering what I was saying.
I hung suspended for several tense minutes, as this plant creature began displaying some sort of just-above-sentience. Thankfully, this newfound thinking ability ended in my favor, as it wound up setting me down beside it, and pat me on the head a couple times.
It stopped me as I turned to leave, and I thought that what had happened had all just been some sort of clever ruse, but it didn't try to pick me back up, and a pungently sweet smell simply exploded into the air.
A smaller vine looped around my wrist, showcasing its actual speed, and I suddenly realized that if it had wanted to kill me, I'd be dead already. It started pulling me toward its bulb-head, by the arm, and when my outstretched hand made contact, another vine was pressed into my hand. The one around my wrist did some lightning-fast adjusting, and moved around my hand, closing it around the new vine.
"What's this? You want me to have something?" Another burst of a sweet scent that I somehow knew to be an affirmative answer. I pulled on the vine as the looped one unraveled and disappeared back below the surface of the marsh water. When I heard a snapping and tearing sound, I knew I had a whip made of a vine in my hand.
"A whip? I don't know how to effectively use one. Sorry, man."
In response, there was a "thwip" sound and my neck was punctured by a dart. I started in surprise, and pulled it out. I could feel my brain rewiring itself as instructions on how to use the vine whip bubbled to the surface of my brain.
"Oh...my...word. This is incredible!" The bulb-head bristled with excitement. Apparently, information in the dart also included how to understand its language. I actually had to sit down because I was so amazed, and when I did, I expected to sit in marsh water, but another vine came up and bent itself into a coiled seat.
"Thank you for this gift," I said, looking up at it. "This is absolutely incredible." In response, it shuddered out more pollen and told me about my friends, who were alive, with Tilly and Allendriel not captured, and the state of the neighborhood, fucked unless someone did something.
"Well," I said standing up. "I guess that someone is me. Time to get to work!"