Helianthus

In  by October 7, 2022

“Funny, a vampire with SAD,” I quip.

The tall Ukrainian peers through mirrored goggles. “Intolerance to sunlight does not qualify me as vampire.” Leonid is our grower. It doesn’t matter how clever the plant biologists are, myself newly included, if you don’t have someone with green fingers to nurture your gene-hack creations. And Leonid is, everyone says, the greenest of the green.

“And SAD?”

He pauses, secateurs in hand. His own pair, never lent, scrupulously cleaned and sharpened. “Is not funny.” He glances at my sandals, feet and ankles lobster red. “Being underground is no hardship, for me. Grow lamps are gentler than sun.”

The first hack we do knocks out a plant’s defences against direct sunlight, as well as their diurnal response. They don’t need them and grow ten times faster in the vast subterranean hydroponic fields, where artificial lights always shine benignly, powered by another equally vast field far above our heads: solar panels spanning the arid desert landscape .

“Grow lamps have plenty of blue, and vitamin D supplements help.” He shrugs. I’m only half listening, wondering when it will be cool enough to escape up top again. “As does regular sleep, avoid alcohol, see best in others.”

I ignore the barb, if barb it was. “And these?” I gesture to the leggy yellow flowers he grows in this small corner of the complex. If he wasn’t so damned talented, would we indulge him?

“These?” Sunflowers reflect in twin lenses, a constellation of otherworldly stars. “These I grow for my soul.”

Copyright © 2022 Liam Hogan

Feature image credit:

Depositphotos

Did you like this story?

Support more great stories like this by buying our latest anthology.

Liam Hogan

Liam Hogan is an award winning short story writer, with stories in Best of British Science Fiction 2016 & 2019, and Best of British Fantasy 2018 (NewCon Press). He’s been published by Analog, Daily Science Fiction, and Flame Tree Press, among others. He helps host Liars’ League London, volunteers at the creative writing charity Ministry of Stories, and lives and avoids work in London. More details at happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk.

Did you like this %work_type_singular%?

Support more great %work_type_plural% like this by buying our latest anthology.

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%
More By %author_first_name%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%

%author_name%

%author_rich_text_bio%
More By %author_first_name%
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram