It happened on the 29th July 2017, in the Botanic Gardens, Dublin. Big bang kerboom boom boom in the rose garden. In broad daylight. Way before the bum-rushing outbreak shortly afterwards.
I was sitting reading a book when I sniffed the purest chocolate I had ever sniffed in my entire life. I looked around expecting to see a couple of tourists on the grass munching into an early afternoon snack bought at some airport terminal on their travels. But there were no tourists. I was on my own in the rose garden. And then I saw it. The first chocolate rose of the summer.
I walked over to it and had to restrain myself from plucking it right there and then and stuffing it straight into my mouth – but no – I managed to let myself break just one small chocolate petal off, pop it gently into my mouth and allow it dissolve slowly on my tongue under the glorious mid-morning sun. It crossed-eyed my face and spun my pupils. I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, still no one saw it. Only me. I didn’t want to point it out to anyone either, in case it was eaten before I had a chance to taste another sliver. The chocolate had managed to sooth the persistent pain in my neck I’d had for the past forty days and nights like some sort of anti-inflammatory ointment or tablet or re-contextualised magic lamp.
Leaving the garden, I went to the pub opposite and bought a big bag of ice. I humped it across the road and arranged it around my chocolate rose to prevent it from melting. Still no one else had entered the rose garden for some very strange reason. And the sun just got stronger and more blinding. Very unusual for Ireland in late July. Eventually in the sticky heat, my chocolate rose started to drip and dissipate despite the ice, so I used that as an excuse to break off more bits and indulge myself. As a result my whole body began to get loose and lithe. My arthritis was seemingly lifting right off my shoulders and floating into the sky like a butterfly. Along with my headaches. There was chocolate stains on my shirt and around my mouth and on my hands. I felt like singing and dancing and creating something.
The rose was now swallowed and in my stomach. The ice all melted. I plucked the stem and chomped through that as well until there was nothing left in the ground at all – not a trace, just damp soil.
I then noticed all the other chocolate roses springing up around me and each one with someone before it in supplication feeding it ice and eating it slowly – and each person getting physically and mentally better and better and better with each mouthful that went down their gullets.
The next day the government put a rifled-up army into all the parks and into all the fields of the nation guarding and then removing all the chocolate roses of the summer of 2017 to gigantic greenhouses down the country. But they were too late. Fortunately. Way, way, way, too late.
Bio: Camillus John was bored and braised in Dublin, Ireland. He has had work published in The Stinging Fly, RTE Ten, Headstuff.org, The Lonely Crowd, Thoughtful Dog, Honest Ulsterman, The Cantabrigian, The Bogman’s Cannon, The Queen’s Head, Litro, Fictive Dream, Silver Streams and other such organs of literature. Recently he killed the Prime Minister of Ireland in fiction in the Welsh literary magazine, The Lonely Crowd, with a piece entitled, The Assassination of Enda Kenny (After Hilary Mantel). He would also like to mention that Pat’s won the FAI cup in 2014 for the first time in 53 miserable years of not winning it.