Everyone loved the flowers, even though nobody knew where they came from. They appeared overnight in a warm week in the spring, and the townsfolk accepted them without question. Their soothing scent eliminated the anxieties of human life, and their dazzling colors were a joy to behold.

They came in many types. Some were coiled vines which loved fences and gutters. Their heavy, multicolored bellflowers were as long as a man’s arm, and smelled so strongly that they anesthetized the whole town. Smaller blooms sprang forth as well, dotting every patch of grass, slithering from every crack in the pavement, and peeking from between every building

In fact, the grass had completely vanished. It disappeared beneath a carpet of purple and pink wildflowers, so thick and common that someone couldn’t help but step on them. Resilient, the little flowers always sprung back as if they were trod upon, and when clipped, they appeared again the next day.

Life changed when the flowers appeared. Everyone slept at sunset and rose at dawn, in tune with the sun-collecting lives of the flowers. Stress melted away, and life became slow and carefree. Nobody struggle or suffered. The flowers brought tranquility. They were beloved.

When a handful of people vanished, I started to lose sleep. Those people vanished one by one as they dared to walk in the night. Though the people mourned, they didn’t investigate. Who went out at night, they said. Nobody wanted to go out at night. The scent vanished with sunlight. Anxiety returned. Those people must have wandered into the woods and lost their way. That was the only explanation. There were no bodies, and no other evidence. The stress took them, the people said.

Nobody looked outside at night. Not like I did. But I wanted to know.

One night, I battled the urge to slip away with the last sweet scent of the day, and I peered through my window, wondering what I would see. I saw a neighbor slip from his front door. He walked down his driveway towards the mailbox. It was only a little past sundown. He must have forgotten his mail.

He opened the mailbox. I watched. Then, silhouetted in the moonlight, the bellflowers moved. They lifted their heavy blossoms, whose petals widened. In the pale light, I saw their teeth, long and savage.

The bellflowers closed around the man. He didn’t even have time to scream.

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