Yume de Aimashou: Asparagus (Murakami)
We found ourselves lost in the middle of an asparagus field, of all places. We’d set out early that morning, aiming to arrive in the next town just after midday, but before we knew it, there we were in a vast field of asparagus, and the sun had begun to lean to the west. The breeze carried a definite chill, and the air all around was pregnant with that sinister asparagus smell.
I got out the compass and map from my knapsack and tried to determine where we’d ended up, but the effort left me even more confused. The map didn’t show a single thing about an asparagus field anywhere near here.
“Let’s just figure out where the town is. As long as we know which way to go, we can knuckle down and make it out of this field, at least,” I said.
My little brother, the lightest of us, shimmied gracefully up a towering asparagus tree, then gripped the trunk tight with one hand like a monkey as he swiveled to look all around.
“I don’t know. I can’t see a thing. There’s no lights or anything,” he said, shaking his head.
“What’ll we do?” my little sister asked me, her voice trembling with tears waiting to spill.
“Hey, it’s okay. No need to worry,” I told her, patting her shoulder. “I need you two to get us a bunch of kindling. Enough to keep a fire going all night. I’ll dig us a ditch.”
My sister and brother did as I asked: covering their mouths and noses with towels to keep from going numb, they set out to collect twigs and dead branches of asparagus. In the meantime, I dug out a ditch around a meter deep with my shovel. A ditch without water and only about a meter deep wasn't much more than a placebo, but it was better than nothing. At least it would calm the other two down.
The full moon floated clearly up in the sky, and its light dyed the cloudy breath that the asparagus spewed from its roots a shade of blue. Some straggling little birds alighted on the ground, looking pained as they beat their wings. Very soon now - when the moon shone straight overhead - they would probably be ensnared and dragged away by the asparagus tentacles. Of all nights, tonight had to be a full moon.
“Stay low to the ground, and keep your head below the gas. No falling asleep. The second we do, the tentacles will find us,” I said. The long night was about to begin.