KUDZU: Beyond Control! by Rosemary Coven
The mountains were ancient and eroding. Small landslides were common. The man knew this and drove cautiously. But sap-filled vines, slippery and as dangerous as loose gravel, crisscrossed the roadway. He drove over several, and the bike’s front wheel slipped, flinging one vine into his back wheel where it caught in the spokes, then snapped like a rubber band stretched too tight. The tug angled the vehicle toward the valley and destabilized its owner. He wobbled, trying to gain control, but more of the vines wound into the spokes. The motorcycle veered toward the deep valley in spite of his frantic efforts. The long tendrils, stretched to their limit, yanked the bike off its wheels. Driver and cycle tumbled over the side.
The vehicle swung by its back wheel over the steep slope like a metronome’s needle while he grabbed for vines, saplings, anything to stop his fall. Leaves and branches tore at his face and friction bloodied his hands, but he slowed, and stopped. He breathed a sigh and a prayer, thanking God that he was alive because his family desperately needed him.
Twisting the vines around his wrists, he used them to climb. The long stems holding the motorcycle split, sending the bike tumbling toward its owner below. It hit an outcrop, bounced clear, and sailed past. It slammed into the cliff below him and dangled there, caught in a web of vegetation.
He was unharmed, and continued his slow climb. Vines slid toward him as if offering hand-holds, but they were unaccustomed to a man’s weight, and weren’t strong enough. Tendrils holding to branches twisted and released, unintentionally jerking their victim like the end of a whip and throwing him into more interwoven stems which wrapped around his neck, arms, and legs, swaddling him like mummy wrappings. He rolled downward like a yoyo, and like a yoyo which comes to the end of its string and snaps back, so did he. His neck broke. His body swung back and forth.
Tried. Failed. Sad! Young kudzu vines waved bye-bye.