Mom tugged at Miranda, her jaw set. “Get in the car. We’re leaving.”
A flock of scissors circled and flew over the house.
Miranda yanked her wrist away. “Mom, there’s not even a street anymore.”
One of the scissors embedded into the side of the house.
Mom fell to her knees. “Maybe you could–“
“I need to see Cindy.” Miranda walked to the edge of the new river. The red flowers moved past each other wetly, like fish. The banks of the river looked slick, like glass. Miranda felt like she was on Mars or something.
She yelled across the street … the river. “Cindy!”
Mom’s voice called from behind her. “We need to go.”
Miranda kept looking at the water. “There’s no where left to go. Have you ever seen anything like this?”
“I’m staying with the people I care about.” She looked back at Mom. “Please come with me.”
Mom looked down the river into town. “You made Cindy, she’s … part of this.” She motioned at the houses. “The only chance we have to keep the mad god from fully waking up is to…”
Something in the way Mom stopped made Miranda look back. “Is to what?”
Mom pushed herself off the ground. She brushed dirt off her knees. “Is to put it back to normal.”
Miranda felt cold. “Like Alice?”
Miranda turned and two steps later dove into the river. She intended to swim across, she instantly fell beneath the surface and was blind. The flowers weren’t floating in water, they were the water. Flowers slid by her like slugs and she couldn’t find purchase. Blackness swallowed her. Squishy flowers pressed against her face. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe.
She panicked and flailed. Muffled above her, she heard Mom scream, “Miranda!”
Her legs hit the glassy bottom. It was as slick as the walls. She tried to kick up, but the flowers weren’t like water, she couldn’t swim in them.
The flowers around her vibrated with a deep slapping sound and something clamped onto her arm.
Instinctively she fought. She tried to rip her arm away it until Mom’s voice came through the slick flowers. “Stop fighting.”
Mom shoved her toward the opposite edge, but they both were sucked downriver by the flower’s movement. Slowly, with Mom’s help, she reached the other side.
Once there Mom pushed through the flowers and grabbed Miranda’s shoe.She barely heard Mom say. “On three!”
Miranda didn’t know what she meant at first, but Mom said, “One. Two.”
And she got it. Just as Mom heaved up, Miranda straightened her leg and pushed up through the flowers. She broke through the surface and gasped. She was blinded by flower slime. The downstream flowers’ movement pulled her out of Mom’s hands.
She panicked again, but a yellow blur jutted out from the edge of the riverbank. She grabbed at it and it turned out to be a bright yellow fire hydrant. The metal hurt, but she held on.
She couldn’t hold on with the slime on her hands. “Help!”
The flowers moved slowly, but they sucked at her legs and she knew she was going to lose her grip in a second. “Mom!”
A hand grabbed her shirt collar and another hooked under her arm.
Bill’s voice sounded worried, but like he was trying to sound calm.”We have you.”
Two people pulled her from the water. Cindy’s voice came from nearby.”Is she okay?”
Miranda pushed herself up. “Mom’s in the river!”
The arms dropped her and Cindy came over while Miranda wiped the slime out of her eyes. Cindy wiped at her face too.
“What’s happening?” Miranda lifted her shirt and wiped her face with it. “Where’s Mom? Is she okay?”
When she lowered the shirt, she could just barely see. Through a haze she saw Tom and Bill holding legs, probably John’s.
He seemed to hang there forever before they pulled back on him. It was like the flowers were resistant to let him go, but they managed to pull him back. If it was that hard to get him out, did that mean Mom was gone?
Cindy ran over and grabbed a leg and pulled. With an ugly wet noise John rose out of the flowers. His head slide out of the river and he yelled, “I got her!”
Miranda jumped up. John’s arms strained in the flower river. Miranda dashed over and reached in past John. “Mom!”
She felt Mom’s arm and grabbed her shirt. She and John strained, but Mom wouldn’t budge. How soon before she suffocated?
Bill came around and reached in for Mom’s other arm. “On three.”
Together the five of them pulled on three and Mom slowly slid out. She was unconscious.
They got her out on the ground. Bill gently pushed Miranda aside. “Cindy, take Miranda into the house.”
Miranda brushed off Cindy. “Is she okay?”
He didn’t stop to answer. He pulled Mom’s neck up and hooked his finger in her mouth. He listened for a second. “She’s breathing.”