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Esseffone

M is for Monstrosities - A Wasteland Compendium

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 3 years ago 10 min read
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Esseffone. It's the way to say, "puke flavored purple potatoes", without actually puking. ...Gah. Nobody likes it when I say that. You know I'm right. You know it. But! You know, if you're starving and someone offers you some of that shit, you're in heaven. Nothing hits the spot like Pukey Potatoes. Whaddaya think? Good delivery?

---

Oh come on! That was righteous! Okay, well... let's get on with it.

Superfood Seventy-One, commonly referred to as Superfood One, SF1, or Esseffone. It's all the same thing. Purple Potatoes. Now, not all purple potatoes are the same, right?

Affirmative. There is a wide variety of tubers in a myriad of colors, but the-

Yeah, I got this. The purple potatoes we're talking about, aren't your typical garden variety. You know, with all the shit that guy went through, we should be calling these things, "Winstrom Potatoes". Or-or, what if we call them, Winnies? You think that'll catch on?

---

Yeah, you're right. Okay, lets get into it. Esseffone is supposed to be a plant. For the longest time, I figured it was like one of those old timey... uh... Venuvian fly swatters?

Venus fly-trap.

Yeah. Venus fly-trap. The thing with the huge mouth and fangs. But now we know, well, I know, and you know... not... not many other people know. Anyway, the plant has human DNA.

Negative. User, the plant has specific RNA that mimics human DNA to created some unique characteristics. It does not have human DNA.

Whatever. I'm trying to dumb this down for the amp heads and the sizzlers. You gonna correct me every time I try and make something easy to understand?

Negative.

Good. ...Good. Okay. So, first off, the plant grows in big patches, but each plant is spaced out. I guess they want their own space or some shit like that. If you see a big patch of, what looks like, melons and vines, do yourself a favor. Start off with, picking something up and tossing it into the middle of the patch. SOMETHING YOU DON'T NEED. I figure I might clarify that for you.

If the patch suddenly comes to live, tendrils whipping back and forth, melons chomping on each other, then you got the right stuff. That's Esseffone.

User. Not all varieties of Superfood One are the voracious and dangerous type. There are heirloom versions of the plant which retain all their original characteristics, although, technically, the plant is originally a genetically modified hybrid in itself.

Yeah... okay. Tell me where I can find the Esseffone without teeth. Go ahead. I'm waiting.

While this unit has not observed such occurrence-

OH! You haven't observed such an occurrence, huh? Then that means, they don't exist. Until you can tell me exactly where to find one, consider them extinct, okay?

--- Affirmative.

Sorry to burst your baboon there chump. Okay, so... Esseffone is a plant, and like most plants, it has parts. So it's basically a stalk sticking up out of the ground, and this acts like its eyes, ears and nose. I call it a sensory stalk. There's a couple little leaves attached, nothing too big and bushy, and that kinda makes way for a lot of whipping around. By the tendrils I mean.

The plants base is divided between big melon like pods, big bushy bunches of leaves, some flowers, tendrils and roots. First, the tendrils. So, the tendrils are pretty long. They can grab, whip and snake around most things.

Did I hear you mention snake?

Yeah. Tendrils on a purple potato plant. You wanna join the discussion?

No. I have better things to do.

User. I am detecting undue psychological stress. Do you wish to take a break?

No. I'm not stressed. I'm fine. Anyway, watch out for the tendrils. If they grab hold of you, cut em off. You'll need a nice sharp blade. Don't try ripping them off. They have fibrous material inside as strong as poly-filament and you'll probably just hurt yourself. If you don't cut them off and get away, the next thing you'll learn about are the melon shaped pods.

Heh. I wish they were melons. Well... I mean, I guess they are. But only if you like melons that split in half and are filled with razor sharp teeth. The vines the melons are attached to aren't very fast, but they are thick, and they are strong. What the plant does is, it likes to grab little animals, insects, maybe some little birds or lizards, anything it can get its tendrils on, and then it opens the tooth melons and throws the prey in. The melon snaps closed and the rest is history.

The flowers don't do anything. I don't even think they smell. Oh, and the whole plant has this dusty grey color to it, but it you get beneath that, to the meat of it, it's all purple. Purple, purple, purple. The roots, they just anchor the plant in one spot, but the tubers down under the sand, tangled in the roots, that's the good part. That is the part everyone calls Esseffone.

Something I just recently learned; If you hunt down a Purple Jacket, that's a big yellow and purple wasp, one of the big ones, you can harvest Esseffone without any problems. The bug makes this smell that paralyzes the plant. You don't even need to blow the stink over the plant. It's as if it just knows. I don't know, it's crazy, but it works. So find a solitary Purple jacket, and kill it, and take it with you. You'll thank me to the end of the sands.

Alright, now, how to harvest this bad boy. So, most of the plant is edible. I don't know why, but that's how it is. The best part is the big lumpy potatoes that grow in the roots. You can dig down next to the plant, just follow the roots down, and you'll find the potatoes.

The potatoes are reserves for the plant. You can take them all and the plant might survive, but if you leave a couple, the plant will definitely survive. Also, don't touch the sensory stalk, unless you're harvesting the entire plant. If you cut that, or damage it, the tendrils and the mouth pods won't work and the plant will probably starve and die before it can regrow a new sensory stalk.

Shit, now I'm thinking about it, don't cut off all the pods. I mean, again, if you're harvesting the entire plant, harvest it all. Take all the potatoes, dig out the roots, they're pretty good, cut the stalk off at the base, its got a lot of "meat" in there and it's a bit softer than the potatoes. The leaves are good, they taste different, but you need a lot of them for it to be filling. The pods are edible but they have a hard leathery shell on one side. If you wanna eat that, boil it, cut it into strips, you can salt it or put spices on it, and chew on it like jerky. The flesh in the pods is stringy and soft, but you're gonna need to pull all the little crystal teeth before you do that. Oh yeah, that reminds me, you can use the plant for more than food.

The crystal teeth that are inside the pods have a kind of triangle structure. The whole plant does, now that I think about it. Usually six or nine pods, same number of tendrils in between the pods, shit like that. The teeth can be used to make weapons. Just something simple like a serrated blade, or darts, a spear tip if they're big enough. The tendrils can be dried out and woven together and turned into a whip.

Now the whip will lose a lot of the dried out fleshy part over time as you bend it and crack it. You might even take three whips, and when they're completely free of all the dried meat part, weave those together to make one. The fibers are super fucking tough. You can also weave some of those crystal teeth into the whip. The base of each "tooth" is a bit more blunt and you can put some scrub brush sap on it and roll a little leather around it... Okay, maybe I'll do a couple recordings on how to make simple weapons. Yeah. People will probably wanna know about that.

Anything I missed?

---

What's wrong? You seem to be in a mood.

This unit is not capable of emotional response, or moods.

Yeah. I'm sure you were programmed to say that, weren't you?

Affirmative.

If you have some additional info to add, something you think I missed, spit it out. Come on.

Does the User wish to do a quick cross reference?

Like... oh shit! Yeah, that's a good idea! See! You're a big help. You can stop sulking now. I'll let you take this one. I know what I would say, but I wanna see how thorough you can be. Go ahead.

Cross References;

The Giant Purple Killing Wasp, or more commonly known as "Purple jacket", feeds on the Esseffone plant. It harvests the leaves to build its hive, and eats portions of the roots and tubers by digging a hole in the sand and bringing cuttings to the surface. It also performs as the primary pollinator for the plant. The flowers may not "smell" as far as a human can determine, but the wasp can identify the male stigma from the rest of the flowers. If it finds a male bloom, it will harvest the stigma and carry it to each of the plants it feeds from. Pollinized blooms will shrivel and fall off the sensory stalk as small nodes form, growing outward until they reach maturity.

So those bumps aren't just tumors or old wounds? They're seed pods?

Affirmative. The sensory stalk will then use its tendrils to pluck the pod off, and throw it away from the plant. A note; the Esseffone plant does not require a pollinator, but pollination creates a much larger, and more hardy plant than one produced without.

The Purple Mouse is a common inhabitant of the Esseffone plant. The small rodent, measuring just an inch or two in size, feeds on the plants scraps and performs a sort of janitorial action, gnawing off damaged parts of the plant, promoting regrowth and repair. The mouse burrows beneath the main stalk of the plant, and may cultivate the tubers to some degree.

I know those little puppies are super fucking smart, but... how does the Purple Mouse survive? Does it make the same pheromones' as the wasp, or-

It has long been the general consensus of all parties who have observed the Purple Mouse for any definitive amount of time, that the Purple Mouse is prescient. Some say this prescience is instinct, a genetically stored memory or warning system, allowing the purple mouse to avoid danger. Others have noted that, in every recorded case, the Purple Mouse has been able to avoid being killed. Even in instances where they sought to trick the mouse, the mouse avoided the situation entirely.

You know I have a purple mouse in my backpack, right?

Sir Squiggles. All attempts by this unit to deploy pest control measures have been unsuccessful. Do you wish for me to deploy pest control measures now?

No! What do you mean, attempts? Have you tried to kill Sir Squiggles before?

Affirmative.

Gob damn it! Don't do that! You have no right to do that! Sir Squiggles is my little buddy! He doesn't hurt anything!

Sir Squiggles is a rodent. Vermin. A disease carrying-

You've confirmed Sir Squiggles has a disease? You've confirmed this?

Negative.

I'm telling you now. I'm ordering you. Do not ever hurt Sir Squiggles. Don't hurt him, don't allow hurt to come to him. Protect him.

What level of protection does Sir Squiggles require?

Moderate? I guess. Moderate sounds good. Oh look! There he is. Speak of the... mouse... and he shall pay you a visit. How's it going Sir Squiggles?

User. The mouse is not capable of-

I know. You tell me every time I talk to him. I know already! You know what... Just for your piece of mind, can you test Sir Squiggles? Make sure he doesn't have any... diseases. Sorry Sir Squiggles. No offense. Oh! You... wanna sit in my hand. Ohhhkay. Uh... Wait! What did you do? Sir Squiggles!

I told you not to harm him!

User. I did not harm Sir Squiggles.

You zapped him! I saw you stick him with the metal fibers!

I touched Sir Squiggles. I did not "zap" him. I only maintained contact long enough to determine, Sir Squiggles is not carrying any known disease, or illness.

You're sure? That quick?

Sir Squiggles... did not maintain contact any longer than was absolutely necessary.

I told you he was smart.

The Purple Mouse is uncharacteristically, one of the smartest animals this unit has observed. I can now add, one of the fastest animals as well.

So he's okay?

Affirmative. He is a prime example of a healthy well fed rodent living in a backpack, safe from all the inherent dangers of the wasteland. Might I make one last observation?

Go ahead.

Sir Squiggles... may be the first case of domestication in the Purple Mouse. The longer he stays in the User's backpack, the less likely it is, that he will return to the wild.

That's fine with me. He doesn't bother me. He doesn't shit in my backpack either, which, uh... brings to question, where is he shitting... or pissing...

Sir Squiggles deposits his excrement in a hole at the far edge of the encampment multiple times per day.

Oh? You've observed this?

Affirmative.

Well, he follows one of the golden rules. Don't shit where you eat. Good advice for everyone. Nicely done. Anything else?

Negative. Other than humans and human consumption of the Esseffone plant, this unit has no other cross references to offer.

Okay. Shut it down, lets mo-

science fiction
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About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?

No

Anything?

No

Thank you sir.

I sit

waiting

Tyler? Is that you?

No

I am... Cornelius.

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