From Dr. Ehirllimbal's private journal—
August 1st, 1954: The plant itself is an ugly, twisted thing. Its stalk is ridged and knobbed like the wart-covered skin of a desiccated toad; its leaves are angular and spiny, and the feathery spines cling to the skin with the tenacity of wood ticks. It has certainly evolved an aura of inapproachability, the sort of natural armor that sends a clear signal of "keep your distance."
Even from other stalks. There are three plants in the garden, and none of them are remotely in proximity to the others. I do not know the manner in which the plant propagates, but it would seem that the normal method of pollination and seed distribution does not apply.
The plant grows a central stalk, a thick shaft that splits into a number of narrow branches. Five or seven—or more, I have a woefully inadequate sampling to make these assumptions from. The branches curve out like fingers bending around the shape of a deep, wide-mouthed bowl. Each branch—each finger—is tipped with a single bud, a black nodule covered with a bristly fuzz like the skin of the wild peccary.
My impression was that the plant flowers at midnight, but that isn't the case. The plant flowers beneath a full moon and the blooms only last as long as the moon is in the sky. We have had to wait several days as the moon waxed into fullness, and tonight it reached its fully rotund state.
Tonight, we expected to see the blackleaf bloom, and we were not disappointed.
As the moon crested the tall tops of the palms that stood at the edge of the garden, its silver light transformed the riot of wild flowers into a field of shimmering outlines, as if each flower became a single eye turned toward the three blackleaf plants. As the moonlight crept across the garden, the ghosts flowed out of the moss carpeting the ground. The garden became a sea of eyes, phantasmal and illusionary.
As the light struck the leaves of the blackleaf, they seemed to twitch and stretch as if they were straining to smoother the moon. I had seen this behavior already, as the plant does this every night. I think it is the way that it registers the light of the moon. Somehow it knows whether or not the moon is full—whether it be intensity of light, a tug in the gravitational pull of the moon, or some other inexplicable measurement—it knows.
A signal is sent up the stalk to the branches and flowers, and as the moon washes its light across the thick fingertips of the plant, the bulbs swell and burst. The flowers of the blackleaf are not dissimilar to that of a daisy, though the blackleaf has a multi-colored spread of petals—yellow and white, uneven in number. Each finger of the plant blooms at the same instant, and each stays open the duration of the moon's passage across the sky.
My spirit guide tells me I can harvest one blossom from each plant. Just one. No more. The finger-branch bleeds when I cut the blossom, a thick yellow sap that oozes enough to cover the stump, but no more.
Curious, I taste this sap. Just a little dot on my finger and then on my tongue. It has a vaguely bitter taste, a distantly familiar astringency. My stomach does not revolt.
An hour later the hallucinations start. They get worse at sunrise. By noon, I am blind and feverish. By nightfall, a more normalized sense of vision has returned to my left eye and most of the tremors have passed. Enough that I can write, but the process is slow and painful. My hand cramps quickly.
My spirit guide is frightened of me. I have not seen him since I took the sap.