Botanical gardens are interesting, especially for people watching. They are one of those places that seems to attract the odd, the eccentric, and the loners; much like libraries, art galleries, and seedy dive bars. However, those folks probably have a better chance of going home at the end of their visit than the same populations that end up at the gardens.

My specialty is in desert plants of the United States and Mexico, and I am the head of that section of my local garden. My family thought I was crazy for pursing my doctorate in Botany, but I had learned there was almost a black market of jobs available if you had the right concentration - and disposition. I have always loved cacti and other plants that survive harsh environments. The asparagaceae family is one of my most favorites, specifically, the agave genus. I have always been impressed by the history, the various uses including medicinal, fiber, sweetener, etc; and not to mention - mezcal and tequila.

I applied for the job and coincidentally got it because I did my doctoral dissertation on a little known variety called agave carnivora. No one is really supposed to know about that species, but I found it through some obscure rabbit hole of the internet when I looked into the inspiration for "Little Shop of Horrors".


Audrey was based on the fever dream ramblings of a southwestern settler that got lost in the desert. He was found days later dehydrated, ill, and hysterical. When the doctor was treating him the settler kept repeating "To kill ya" over and over.

The doctor assumed the man meant "tequila", a strong spirit found among the groups of Mexican travelers that frequently passed through the area. When the man became more lucid he insisted his small band of men came across what the locals called "Agave del Diablo" or "Devil's Agave". He described it as looking like most other varieties of agave, except this particular species had a noticeable sanguine stripe down the middle of each thick leaf. Their group had been warned not to make camp near a cluster of these plants, but passed off the warning as some heretical superstition, and being lulled by the scent of the new blooms, made their camp near the patch anyways. The man's bedroll happened to be on the outside edge of the small camp they had made and there as a good breeze the blew most of the pollen away from him. When he was awoken by the screams of his companions and saw why, he was able to flee into the desert night. What he described witnessing was impossible to believe, and the doctor's notes say so much - however, his curiosity was piqued. He went out into the desert, asking about the "Devil's Agave" and picked up various pieces of folklore. Eventually on one of his excursions, he came across a plant that matched the description. It was a small plant and he carefully dug up the specimen. He sequestered himself into his house to study it, obsessed. He was never seen again. His young apprentice finally broke into his house after he had gone missing for days and found barely legible notes, a large plant, various animal carcasses, and a lot of blood. No doctor.

It was decades later when the notes were uncovered and ended up in the hands of an eccentric botanist. Intrigued by the claims, this person went out into the desert to see if there was any truth in the notes. They found it. The official name is agave carnivora, but mostly it is still called the Devil's Agave. Though officially the research is classified, it is one of those things that has a cult following, and if you are determined enough, you can find the information. I was the one who discovered the plants had adapted. They no longer have the characteristic red stripe down the middle, and now look almost exactly like the agave americana. The only difference is the barely perceptible line of fine hairs running down the center of the thick, large leaves. Under a microscope, the hairs are blood red. The plant still releases an intoxicating scent, and the pollen is blood red and toxic. The few botanical gardens that have one of these have to close the exhibit and carefully fumigate and filter the air. If the pollen is inhaled, the victim becomes delirious, and passes out nearby. The leaves then latch on to their prey and pull them to the center of the plant, nearly tentacle like, and the plant proceeds to secrete a fluid that begins to dissolve the entire carcass - bones, teeth, hair and all, into digestible fluid. The whole process take about 48 hours and only happens every other year, when the plant blooms.

They thrive on humanoid flesh.


I have no love of humankind, disdain really. I was an outcast and bullied my entire life. Plants have been the only thing that never betrayed me - hell, even my dog ran away when I was a child. Pursuing this career and research gave me an outlet to avenge my botanical friends. I played nice through my higher education, and during the interview to caretake a Devil's Agave located in an obscure botanical garden, I made it clear I had no problems with the feeding schedule. I signed a contract of confidentiality and started working. The main part of my job was to watch for lone wolves who visit repeatedly. A little bit of snooping makes it fairly easy to find out how connected they are with friends and family, and if they meet the criteria, they get to be one of the lucky few who get to breathe the intoxicating scent of the agave carnivora. Cloaked in an invitation for a special, private, thank you event, it's not hard to lure the prey into the clutches of the plant.

Rarely, there will be a mutation or an off-season bloom, and a plant has been known to snatch a person at an unpredictable time. However, the story is so far fetched that most local authorities assume there was mass hallucination due to some other plant's pollen. Any establishment who hosts a Devil's Agave makes sure to encourage this assumption, citing any number of plants that could be the cause of the hallucination. These occurrences are rare enough no one has noticed a pattern.

My local Devil's Agave, one I have lovingly cared for for over a decade, has a flower stalk. It is most likely blooming tomorrow. I have assured my director I have a special meal prepared for it, which is why I feel I must confess here. I have been responsible for the demise of many prey for my beloved botanical friend. As much as I am loath to admit it, I think perhaps I may have a conscience after all - though I did take great pains to ensure the chosen was the most deserving of the picked lot. Tomorrow, I will breathe in the most forbidden scent, and become one with my ward, while giving a most deserving prey.

This is how it ends for most of us.