“DO NOT COME NEAR THE FLOWER OF THE BILIOUS SUNFLOWER!”
At the end of the trail we’d been following all day stood the sign. We should have taken more notice since it was dripping in red paint.
Below the sign it read: “If you do you will suffer a terrible pain where your precious bits will wither and shrink from your sight, never to return. Be warned.
Yours in personal safety
Cristos Kempos Keeper of the Sunflower.
As experienced bushwalkers, the sign looked like the prank of some kid, and we laughed it off as nothing more than that. Ahead of us lay a field of sunflowers resplendent in yellow.
There were a few deadish ones that appeared to be spewing their insides out, and we took them to be the ones to avoid.
My companion being the curious person she was moved close to one of the deader plants to inspect it. As she did so a piece of the spewed out insides attached itself to her face.
She wiped it quickly away and laughed that the plant had attacked her.
We moved away and found a camping spot and settled down to boil the billy for our dinner, soup and lentils.
No sooner had she taken a mouthful of her dinner than she bent over, wracked with pain she fell down and within seconds was being sick on the ground.
The initial attack was violent and uncontrollable, and she lay there as I cleaned up the mess in front of her. She soon recovered, and we wondered if it was the Bilious Sunflower that had so affected her.
She picked up during the next hour, and we decided to climb into our sleeping bags and retire for the night as we had a long trek planned for the next day.
An hour later she was ill again. This time the attack took a lot of energy from her, and she lay in her sleeping bag gasping for some time before sleep overcame her.
I awoke in the morning to find her already up. I went outside but couldn’t see her anywhere. Her stuff was still where she’d left it the night before, and there were no footprints around the camp.
It was the squeaking that alerted me. Looking down I found my companion. She had shrunk to the size of a mouse. She looked desperate, which under the circumstances she had every reason to be. How were we to explain this when we arrived home?
I gathered her up, and after emptying a matchbox, I placed her in the top pocket of my shirt and made plans to return the way we had come.
“Maybe it will wear off,” I suggested to her plaintive cries for an answer. “The sign did say they’d never return,” I offered realising that wasn’t helping and making her even more hysterical.
I thought I’d best try and find Mr Kempos, the Sunflower keeper, and see if he had any answers.
We set off, me lugging all our stuff and she squeaking uncontrollably in my pocket.