Love Among the Flowers

by Leem

Where the bee sucks there suck I
In a cowslip’s bell I lie
        William Shakespeare,
        “The Tempest”
Beware of the flowers
’Cause I’m sure they’re gonna get you, yeah

        John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett,
        “Beware of the Flowers”

This story uses a similar idea to my earlier female tale “Flora and Fauna” (2007).
During the intervening years I’ve had plenty of time to refine and supposedly
improve the concept, and this, for better or worse, is the result.

I suppose it’s not the worst planet I could have been stranded on. Breathable atmosphere, warm climate, lush forest, and the natives don’t appear hostile. Ever since I landed here five days ago the ship has been monitoring them, using insect-sized drones to study their language and behaviour. They appear to be peaceful hunter-gatherers. They wear little or no clothing on their attractive humanoid bodies and seem to spend a large proportion of their leisure time having sex.

I’ve compiled quite a large audiovisual file on their sexual customs. I tell the computer it’s purely for research, but who am I kidding? If it hadn’t been for the ship’s insistence on strict quarantine procedures, I’d have been out there conducting “field research” with the natives on the day we landed. Instead, I’m forced, almost single-handedly, to research the effect of the recordings on me, which has brought me to several very positive conclusions.

“Confirm time for repairs, ship,” I say.

“Minimum time to complete repairs: approximately eighty-seven standard days.”

“OK, could be worse. How are the repairs to the coms?”

“FTL com irreparable due to loss of core singularity. EM band transceivers repaired. Nearest human settlement five hundred and seventy six point three light years.”

“Huh. No point waiting for a reply, then. But you’re sure the air’s breathable?”

“Confirm. Standard nitrogen-oxygen mixture at one point zero six standard atmospheres.”

“And I won’t contaminate the environment if I step outside?”

“Confirm. No harmful vectors either incoming or outgoing. However, protocol dictates -”

“Override protocol. Hypothetically, would it be possible for a human to have sex with the natives?”

“Assuming maturity and mutual consent,” it says, “there appear to be no physical impediments to sexual intercourse between a human and a member of this planet’s humanoid species. However, due to genetic incompatibility any heterosexual couplings would be infertile.”

I nod, feeling myself getting hard. “In that case,” I say, “I intend to exit the ship and approach the natives in what I hope will be interpreted as a friendly manner. Any objections?”

There’s an almost human pause before the ship replies: “This proposed course of action would violate quarantine protocol. If you persist, I am obliged to remind you that any such excursion shall be undertaken entirely at your own risk.”

“Understood,” I reply. I’m already in the process of stripping to nothing but the ring on my finger. The ring contains a small neurostunner. I hope I won’t need to use it, but it’s as well to be prepared.

“All right,” I tell the ship. “At my own risk, and of my own free will, I hereby override quarantine protocol. Please open the hatch.”

After what feels like a reluctant pause, the hatch opens and warm, richly-scented air enters the ship. For a moment I stand at the head of the ramp, luxuriating in the smell of the forest and the warm air on my skin, then walk slowly down, set my bare feet on the alien soil, and take a deep breath of the richly-oxygenated atmosphere.

After a few more paces I look back at the ship, or rather at where I know the ship to be. The stealth field is still working perfectly, rendering the ship almost completely invisible, unless you know what you’re looking for. All that’s visible is the ramp, and after a moment that’s also gone, raised back into the hull. I’m not worried about getting lost, though. At all times my implant keeps track of where I am in relation to the ship, so I can always find my way back.

The nearest settlement is a couple of thousand cubits from the ship, through a grove of tall trees with soft grass-like undergrowth and flowers in profusion scenting the air. A myriad insectoids buzz around me, but if any of them are biters it seems my alien scent is putting them off.

I keep the stunner at the ready in case I should stumble across any hostile creatures, but all the animals I see are pretty small, and they all just scamper out of my way when they see me coming. One squirrel-like individual gives me a dirty look for startling it, but then just clambers up a tree and out of sight.

The forest is filled with strange animal noises They might be frightening to some, but I grew up in the Therinya rainforest on Turavis. To me the sounds are a symphony of life, and I make my way through the trees with a spring in my step - although I mustn’t trip too lightly for fear of actually tripping.

Soon I’m close enough to the village to hear the natives’ voices. Their speech is soft, mellifluous and highly-inflected. It’s not like any language I’d heard before landing here, but the ship has programmed it into my brain implant. The implant’s DictoRobitery software is doing a pretty good job of translating it in my head, and the more I hear of it the more accurate the translation will become.

Peering through a gap in the trees I can see the villagers going about their tasks. They’re distinctly humanoid, though slightly shorter than the human average. They have six digits on each hand and foot and short satyr-like tails, and both sexes sport nicely-curved buttocks. Their bodies are slender yet muscular, covered in short, downy fur dappled with brown spots. The females have small but well-rounded breasts, the males well-defined pectorals.

Their faces are oval with high cheekbones, large brown eyes with corner folds, narrow noses, broad mouths and small, slightly-pointed ears close to the sides of their heads. Their hair is long and wavy, combed and braided in various styles, and many of the males have short-cropped facial hair. What little clothing they wear reveals more than it conceals, and some don’t even bother with that much. Some of them wear jewellery made from shells, pebbles or animal teeth.

To me they’re beautiful. I just pray they don’t find me ugly.

Well, there’s only one way to find out. Taking a deep breath, I step forward into the clearing until I’m about a hundred cubits from the village and stand quietly with my hands open by my sides to show that I’m carrying no (visible) weapons.

It doesn’t take long for the villagers to notice me, and they spend some time pointing at me curiously and discussing what to do about me. So far so good: none of them are reaching for their weapons.

Eventually they choose a delegate; a young male, probably the equivalent of twenty standard years in human age, naked and gorgeous. If his expression bears any resemblance to a human’s, I’d describe it as a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Taking a deep breath, he starts walking slowly toward me. I smile, hoping he’ll understand what a smile is, and raise my arms slightly away from my body, palms still open.

His eyes scan me from head to toe and back. I can practically feel his gaze caressing my skin, as mine caresses his. We’re both aroused. The sight of my erection seems to reassure him, and he approaches until his own is almost touching it.

“Greetings, stranger,” he says. “My name is Rrhu.”

OK, the DictoRobitery program appears to be working fine when it comes to translating the native language into Standard, Now let’s see how well it works in the other direction.

“Greetings,” I reply. “My name is Lerin Thirdhill. I am a traveller from a distant land. My people, as you see, look a little different, but I hope you will accept me as a friend.”

At least, I hope that’s how my translated words sounded to him.

Doesn’t look like I’ve got anything to worry about, though. During our brief conversation we’ve still been ogling each other arousedly, and now Rrhu’s moved close enough that the tip of his erection is gently nuzzling mine.

“I’d like to be your friend,” he says, reaching to embrace me. His scent is earthy and enticing, and I can’t help wondering if he’s exuding sexual pheromones to arouse me. If he is, they’re working a treat. Gazing into his amber eyes, I return the embrace, letting my hands caress the soft, sensuous fur of his back and bottom, while his face breaks into an all-too-human smile. It doesn’t take me long to discover that the natives also know how to kiss like humans. Meanwhile our penises are enthusiastically getting to know each other.

So, just like that, I’m making first contact with an alien. Meanwhile many of his tribe gather round to watch. Small pieces of cloth flutter to the ground as they embrace each other, in pairs or in small groups. Slowly at first, then with growing urgency and confidence, we explore every last centicubit of each other’s bodies. I’m experiencing the pleasure in a series of slowly rising plateaux, punctuated by near-orgasmic peaks.

Gods, this is wonderful. I’m having the best sex of my life, and it’s with a - ahem - member of a previously unknown species. That’s really saying something; I’ve taken the Advanced Lovemaking course at Dravinye University, and passed with honours.

Each time he brings me to a new pinnacle I’m able to hold back from coming at the last moment, and it seems from his quiet sighs and moans that he’s learned a similar technique. All around us I’m hearing orgasmic moans from the rest of his tribefolk. The nearest ones are also stroking us intimately.

Finally, after almost coming four or five times, I can’t hold back any longer. By employing one of the University’s muscular techniques, I’m able to prolong my climax for almost a minute. Finally, when I’m unable to hold it in any more, I start ejaculating explosively, all over Rrhu’s stomach, abdomen and legs. Seeing this (and smelling it!), Rrhu and the tribe break into a chorus of whoops that I can only hope are a celebration. A moment later I feel my alien lover’s body stiffen against me, and I caress him tenderly as his semen merges with mine.

Rrhu emits a long, satisfied sigh and licks my face affectionately. I return the gesture.

“Welcome to the tribe,” he says.

We rest in each other’s arms for a while, as the rest of the tribe finish their orgy. Then Rrhu stirs himself and says, “Come, friend. Your juice is sticky. We shall wash at the stream.”

He leads me down a shallow grassy slope, following several villagers who are already heading in that direction, until we find ourselves a beside a slow-moving brook. We wade out almost to the centre, where it’s barely two and a half cubits deep, and join the others in cleaning ourselves, and each other, up. This naturally involves more intimate contact, and another mini-orgy ensues.

Afterward, as we lie on the bank hugging and stroking each other post-coitally, Rrhu says, “You have chosen a good time to visit, friend. Soon will come the season when the big flowers open, and that will be a time of great celebrations.”

“Big flowers?” I say, and in reply he waves a hand toward the opposite bank.

Stretching into the distance beyond the far bank is a grove of pink and yellow plants. Calling the flowers big is an understatement. They have no visible stems, but grow from ground level. Their petals are currently closed and upright, resembling pointed minarets. Each closed flower is taller than a man, about five cubits high and more than two cubits across at its widest point. Surrounding the base of each flower is a roughly circular array of leaves, about fifteen cubits in diameter. Each ring of leaves almost overlaps its neighbour. I guess the area needed for leaves determines the spacing between flowers.

Before I can ask him about the flower-opening celebrations, one of his tribeswomen taps him on the shoulder and says, “Rrhu, are you going to keep our new friend to yourself all day?”

Rrhu smiles and licks my face, then hers, then graciously moves aside to allow her to embrace me, while he embraces someone else.

“Hello,” she says. “I’m Rrhu’s mother’s brother’s daughter, Khyrr.”

“Hello, Khyrr,” I say, running my hands slowly down her back.

So for a time all thought of flowers is forgotten as I put my sexual master's degree to the test once more.

As the afternoon progresses I find myself making love to several more male and female tribefolk, sometimes more than one at a time, by the stream and later in the village. They’re all very enthusiastic to welcome me personally, and demonstrate a wide variety of sexual techniques. I’m happy to counter with some techniques of my own, and a delightful time is had by all.

The natives are impressed by my stamina, though that’s mainly down to my bio-enhancements. Those will allow me to keep it up all day if I so desire, but sooner or later the tribe and I have to eat, so we make our way to the communal dining area near the cooking fire at the centre of the village.

Rrhu brings me a generous helping of cooked fish with vegetables, served on a platter made from some kind of unleavened bread. The flavours are unfamiliar but delicious. Later we drink what seems to be a kind of ale. I’m not sure if it contains alcohol, but there’s certainly something in it that’s giving me a buzz, and soon we’re all getting very merry and affectionate. There’s a lot of singing and dancing and heavy petting. Then as the sun sinks rapidly below the horizon the planet’s bright moon rises full and Rrhu manages to lead me somewhat shakily into the large earth-and-straw hut where the tribe sleeps.

The interior is dim, hot, and filled with the sweaty musk of warm bodies. The beds are like large square hammocks, woven from some kind of thick leaves and suspended at the corners by ropes attached to vertical beams. Clearly they’re big enough for more than one person, and I’m not surprised to find myself sharing with Rrhu and another female, possibly another of his kissing cousins. We’re all still high on whatever was in the ale, and it soon becomes clear that whatever the magic ingredient might be, it doesn’t inhibit sexual performance. By the time we finally get to sleep it’s probably well after midnight.

Next morning, in spite of all the ale and exertion, I wake clear-headed and refreshed, without a trace of a hangover. I’d love to get some samples of that ale and the plants it’s brewed from. It would revolutionise the galactic beverage industry. Still, there’s plenty of time for that. I’ll be here for at least another 86 days, after all, as long as I don’t manage to accidentally offend my new friends.

Life in the village isn’t all about sex, of course. The natives hunt game using bows or blowpipes, and grow fruit and vegetables in neatly-tended gardens within the village stockade. Plant fibres are woven into ropes, leather is worked to make belts and bags, wood is worked to make climbing frames for plants and structural repairs to the hut and stockade. What little cloth there is comes from a cotton-like plant which is also grown domestically. All the tasks are allocated according to skill and preference, regardless of gender.

Naturally if I’m to stay in the village for any length of time it’s only fair that I should help out. It’s just a question of finding my aptitude. Few of the manual skills required for tribal survival are taught in human schools these days, so I’ll just have to keep trying out until I find something I’m good at - or at least something I’m not completely terrible at.

I’m sure hunting won’t be my forte. I do try my hand at archery, but it’s all I can do to draw and loose the arrow without the string tearing my fingertips to shreds, never mind actually hitting the target.

The villagers all agree that I’m no bowman, so I decide to take up agriculture instead. This goes a lot more smoothly. Soon I’m to be found amongst a close-knit group of village gardeners, sowing seeds, watering, pruning, checking leaves for blight and picking ripe fruit. It’s satisfying work as long as I don’t mind getting my hands, and knees, dirty. It also means I spend a lot of time crouching on all fours with my naked, tailless bottom exposed, so it’s not surprising that I receive lots of playful strokes and pats from my fellow gardeners as well as passers-by. Of course I’m only too happy to reciprocate.

It’s thirsty work, so there are frequent refreshment breaks, during which we quaff plenty of ale, and - of course - make love. Somehow in spite of this, we find time for work, and to my surprise I find myself enjoying the work almost as much as the leisure.

From time to time the gardeners take turns to go foraging for rare plants and herbs that don’t grow so well in captivity. On my first such trip I’m accompanied by a male and a female gardener and a pair of guards armed with spears and bows. There are surprisingly few dangerous predators in the jungle, but enough to keep us wary and alert. I’ve never seen any of the natives raise a hand to another, or to me, but when they see a carnivorous animal baring its fangs and hissing at us they react with angry yells and threatening gestures. Fortunately this frightens it away, but I have no doubt the guards would have been more than capable of killing it if it tried to attack.

Fortunately such encounters are rare. Most of the local wildlife is harmless. Those little squirrel-like animals often approach us in hope of a handout of fruit or nuts, and the villagers are happy to oblige.

Our expedition takes us by the stream, so we stop there for a brief rest. While we sit near the bank snacking on fresh fruits, my friends peer intently at the giant flowers on the opposite bank. One of them, Rhekhi, sniffs the air and says, “Do you smell that, friend?”

“Yes,” I say. It’s a faint odour that I can’t quite define or recognise, but I like it. It has an indefinably seductive quality, like fresh-cut grass or tree resin.

“It means the flowers are close to opening,” says Rhekhi, placing an affectionate hand across my shoulders. “Maybe two or three days now. I’m so happy you’ll get to see them with us.”

Even as we speak the scent is growing stronger. It is seductive, yes, and all of our bodies are responding to it. Rhekhi leans in and kisses me, and I respond. Almost without conscious thought our hands have begun working each other’s erections. The rest of the party are doing the same, gently and unhurriedly coaxing our partners toward slow, sensuous orgasms, and then starting again.

I don’t know how long it lasts. The scent seems to have us in some kind of trance. We only come to ourselves when the sun begins to set and the scent fades, and we make our way back to the village by the quickest route before nightfall.

Looking back, I’m not sure what would have happened if a hungry animal had found us in that state. Would we have woken before it ate us? If not, at least we probably would have been too far gone to feel any pain. Then again, maybe the scent would have affected the animal as well and made it too laid-back to attack. Evidently the scent is some kind of pheromone. It’s almost as if the flowers are messing with the villagers’ heads for some reason.

Now our heads are clear, though, nobody else seems to think there was anything unusual about what happened. I ask Rhekhi, and he confirms that the same thing happens every year in the days before the flowers open. Then he changes the subject and we join the rest of the tribe for supper, sex, bed and more sex.

I spend the whole of the next couple of days gardening in the village, but from time to time we catch whiffs of the flower scent, and our work is interrupted for sex. Not that anyone’s complaining, I suppose. If it’s reaching the village the plants must be increasing their output. If it gets stronger as the flowers open we’ll all be too horny to concentrate on anything but sex. So what do the flowers get out of it? The question is still on my mind the second night as I fall asleep in Khyrr’s arms.

Next morning the villagers and I wake to find the scent pervading the village more strongly than ever. Nobody speaks. Everyone knows it can only mean one thing. The flowers are about to open.

There’s a real sense of excitement as we rise from our hammocks and prepare to visit the flower grove. Those who normally don loincloths leave them behind. They won’t be needed today.

The children are seemingly unaffected by the pheromone, and the adults tell the older ones to look after the infants until we return. Since this happens annually the older kids must be used to it. Then the entire adult population of the village, myself included, make our way to the stream, kissing and caressing each other as we go.

Helpless to resist the pheromone’s control, we wade across the stream and enter the flower grove. The petals are opening slowly, lowering themselves onto the ground within their rings of leaves, and as they do so their astonishing secret is revealed.

Standing in the centre of each flower is something that looks like a green statue of a native, either male or female, its feet attached to the centre of the flower by a short stalk. They’re astonishingly lifelike. I realise the “statues” must be some kind of stamens which have been adapted by evolution to resemble the natives’ bodies. Each villager steps up to one of the green figures and begins to caress it. As the pheromone washes over me I can’t resist doing the same.

The stamen is covered with a mossy growth that feels remarkably similar to a native’s fur. It’s anatomically accurate to an astonishing degree, from the finely-detailed musculature that almost seems to quiver beneath its skin, to the long green hair and short beard on its face, to the short, furry tail above the firm, hard buttocks that meet its slightly-parted legs at a satisfying crease. Its thick, solid erection throbs realistically beneath my questing fingers. It even has a retractable foreskin. As I reach beneath the scrotum, I feel the weight of two convincing testicles inside.

The face is also quite realistic, although seemingly identical to others that I can see from here. Its mouth is open, giving it a permanent look of surprise, and when I slip my tongue into it I quickly discover that it doesn’t have teeth or a tongue of its own. It’s just a hollow tube that can be penetrated. The face does, however, possess a pair of realistically-detailed eyes. I could almost swear they are returning my fascinated gaze. Who knows, maybe the flower can actually see me with them. Given its size, it might have a brain and nervous system of sorts.

Moving around the stamen, I push on its back, and discover that it bends authentically at the waist. Its anus is another hollow tube. As my penis glides effortlessly inside, its moist, velvety lining caresses me sensuously, and I’m instantly hard as a rock and thrusting as if there’s no tomorrow. At the same time my hands are reaching around to play with its mossy scrotum and wooden erection.

All around me the natives are also mating with the stamens. The pheromone makes it impossible to resist. That and the pleasure make it hard to think straight. Nevertheless, I gradually begin to understand why this is happening. It’s similar to the way some types of orchid lure insects to pollinate them, by growing structures that resemble females so male insects will mate with them. Similar arrangements are found between numerous plant and animal species throughout the galaxy, but this is the first time I’ve heard of a plant luring a sentient species for this purpose. It’s astonishing that the stamens evolved into such precise copies of the natives. Just wait till they hear about this back home.

Then the cloud of pheromone begins to thicken, and all I can think about for a long time is how good it feels making love to my sweet, precious flower.

It might be an hour, or even two, before I finally achieve a stupendous climax, and then release nine or ten powerful bursts of semen into the stamen’s body. The stamen quivers in response, and the air turns yellow. I cough a little as the cloud of sticky pollen settles over my body, then withdraw my erection, which hasn’t softened that much.

The pheromonal cloud is still drifting over the flower grove, making me horny for a stamen. I’m not attracted to this one any more, though. It’s done its job. So like a sleepwalker I make my way from flower to flower, exchanging a few friendly strokes and pats with the occupied villagers as I pass by until I find a stamen that’s unaccompanied.

This one is shaped like a female, and I find I’m able to tilt back the short stem that supports it until it’s lying supine with a petal for its mattress. Lying on top of it I begin to fondle its realistic breasts as I copulate with it in what is, for unknown reasons, called the Misha Nari position. In the process, of course, I can’t help getting pollen all over it. Its vaginal opening feels identical to the male stamen’s anus. That’s only to be expected, I suppose. Since the stamens don’t eat or excrete, their mouths and anuses are just for sexual penetration.

Once again I lose myself in timeless pleasure until at long last I can’t contain myself. Pleasure builds to a heavenly climax that seems to go on for several minutes. Then with intense jolts of ecstasy I come over and over again into the fake vagina. I think I must have ejaculated twelve times. Then, as before, there’s a quiver as pollen erupts from the stamen and settles all over me and the surrounding leaves. Finally, once again the stamen loses its attraction and I withdraw euphorically. It seems each stamen releases a local, short-lived counter-pheromone as soon as its flower has released pollen, ensuring that its pollinator will move on to another stamen.

And move on I do, again and again, until finally the pheromone cloud begins to dissipate and my libido fades. Then I make my way to the stream where several of the villagers are already washing the pollen from their bodies. One of them happens to be Rrhu, and I wade in waist-deep to join him.

“That was just amazing,” I tell him. “We don’t have flowers like that where I came from.”

“Truly?” he replies. “Then I’m very glad you came at the right time to share this wonderful experience with us.”

“So,” I say, sluicing water over my body, “What happens now? Do the flowers close once the people have joined with them?”

“Oh, no,” he says. “They will remain open all through the warm season. On Opening Day their attraction is strongest, but they will go on calling us to them until the weather cools and it is time for them to close.”

Curious, I think. I would have imagined that once the flowers had all been pollinated they would immediately set seed, but it seems the process is slower than that. Maybe they’re only receptive to pollen for a few days each season, but if that’s the case why do they produce pollen for the entire season? From what I have learned of this planet, this region has only two roughly equal seasons: “warm”, averaging 310 Kelvin, and “cool”, averaging 295K. The planet’s year is about 50% longer than a standard year, meaning the flowers are open for around eight moons!

Once I’ve questioned Rrhu a little more it becomes clear that the plants don’t reproduce annually. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, given the time it would take them to grow to maturity. In fact it seems each flower may live for decades, or even centuries. Rrhu swears that many individual plants from this grove have been around since the time of his grandfather’s father. I’m not sure how he can be so certain about that, but he swears it’s true. That would mean each individual stamen has been enjoyed by generations of villagers. I smile wryly, wondering how many lovers the plants I embraced have known before me. It’s lucky I’m not jealous!

None of this explains why such long-lived plants would need to produce so much pollen, or go to such Herculean lengths to entice pollinators. It seems inefficient. Maybe I can ask the ship for an explanation once I return.

Assuming I do return, that is. I find myself beginning to entertain the notion of settling here permanently. The climate is comfortable, the food is excellent, and the sex - of whatever kind - is exquisite.

After washing Rrhu and I return to the village, side by side. We stroke each other’s backs as we go, but for the moment we don’t feel the urge to go any further. It seems the flowers have drained all of us sexually, so we dine, compare notes about our floral experiences, and when we go to bed it’s just to just dream in each other’s arms.

Next day the pheromonal scent is less strong and village life begins to resume its normal pattern, although from time to time someone will wander off to the flower grove. In the afternoon I find myself compelled to follow, and I spend a pleasant few hours examining a “male” stamen’s woody erection. First I spend some time with my own erection pressed against it and masturbating both, and then I kneel in sexual worship and take it into my mouth. It has a curious but not unpleasant taste, and when it finally comes it spurts jet after jet of delicious sugary syrup into my mouth while pollen settles over my body. Nectar, I think. Now I know how a honeybee feels.

Again I lose interest in the stamen once it has shed its load(s), and I decide to repeat the experiment with a “female” stamen. Sure enough, just before it ejaculates pollen its vaginal opening releases a stream of nectar every bit as good as the “male’s”.

As the summer goes on I become increasingly accustomed to living and working in the village. The villagers now accept me as a slightly exotic-looking friend, lover and tribesman, and so life settles into a comfortable routine. The pheromone continues to exert its influence. Over the course of a typical day every adult in the tribe, myself included, will have sex with at least one of the stamens.

I’m still a little puzzled as to why such long-lived plants need to be pollinated so often, but the question doesn’t seem important any more. Maybe they just do it because they like sex. What’s more, I’ve noticed that our libidos seem to increase after we’ve mated with the stamens; once they’ve finished with us, we’re still so horny we have lots of sex with each other.

In spite of all the sex, we somehow still find time to carry out all the necessary labours of village life, as well as eating, drinking, singing, dancing and telling stories. I’m often amazed at how pleasant my life has become without the need to rely on technology. Even the translator implant in my brain is becoming redundant as I learn the local language for myself.

That’s when I make my decision. I won’t be going back. This is my home now. True, as idyllic as it may seem, it's not perfect. There’s disease, predation, poisons and accidents to worry about. I suppose in an emergency I could call for a robot to take me back to the ship’s med bay, but in a sense that would be betraying all of my new friends.

There again, I’m not stuck in some sterile residential cubicle where I’d be doing the same work as fifteen billion other data clerks, eating the same bland processed food, consuming the same bland entertainment, having the same bland synthetic sex and dying at the age of 300 with nothing to show for it. No: for better or worse, life on this planet is real.

And of course, there are the flowers. Now the flowers have seduced me with their pheromone, how can I ever leave them?

Seduced. Yes. Maybe the real reason I want to stay is that the pheromone creates psychological dependence. But then... would that be so bad? It’s a kind of symbiosis. The plants give us great sex in exchange for their survival. I can live with that.

From time to time I join some of the villagers on trading journeys to neighbouring communities. My human appearance is surprising to the other villagers, but since their neighbours have accepted me as a friend and lover they have no hesitation in doing so as well, and an enjoyable time is had by all.

As far as I can tell there’s never been any conflict between tribes. I’m tempted to think all the sex they indulge in leaves them no time - or energy! - for aggression. There might be at least a grain of truth in that. I certainly feel more relaxed after joining with the villagers. This society seems to be a living embodiment of that famous phrase found in an ancient scriptural fragment: “Make Love, Not War”.

Not surprisingly, the neighbouring villages also have flower groves of their own, though it might be more accurate to say that the groves all have villages of their own; in other words, that the natives are compelled to build their villages close to where the flowers grow.

While visiting the other villages, my friends and I are compelled to mate with their stamens as well. Travelling between villages ensures cross-pollination between different groves. Even after bathing some pollen always lodges in our hair, fur and pores, and some of it gets transferred to other stamens.

Because of all the sex, many tribeswomen are now pregnant. The forest’s natural pharmacopeia does include several contraceptives, but the females tend not to take them during the early weeks of flower season. What better time to try for a child than when you’ll be having lots of intercourse anyway? One of the females, a quiet, sensible young woman named Chikhri, strokes her swollen belly and says, “Who knows, Lerin? Maybe it’s yours.”

Not wanting to disillusion her, I smile and give the local equivalent of a nod. Like the computer said, the odds of my fathering a hybrid child are vanishingly remote. So I stroke her bump and she sighs contentedly. Whoever the father is, I wish the child well. I wish them all well. The baby boom will take place just about the time the flowers are closing. That means the demands of new parenthood will arrive just when the tribe are no longer being distracted by the pheromone. I wonder if that’s a coincidence, or another part of the symbiotic relationship.

Eventually the weather begins to get cooler. The season is changing. It will never get too cold for nudity, but it definitely feels a bit less sweltering. The flowers are releasing less of their pheromone, and some are already beginning to close. I’m going to miss them during the closed season.

Some of the flowers are still open, though, and one afternoon three or four of the villagers and I are making love to the stamens with every bit as much enthusiasm as we did on opening day.

After coming and losing interest in my stamen, I’m overtaken by another strong burst of pheromone and find myself wandering hypnotically through the grove. I notice distractedly that four or five other tribefolk are going the same way. Soon we are in a part of the grove that I don’t recall seeing before. Some of the flowers here don’t have humanoid stamens, just a green patch at the centre of the petals. They must be immature specimens that haven’t grown stamens yet. Compelled to take a closer look, I stroll across the outer leaves and the nearest petal until I reach the middle of the flower.

It’s strange. There’s nothing there except a mossy disc about a cubit in diameter. No structure that even vaguely resembles a stamen. At what stage of growth do the stamens begin to develop? There’s a vague suspicion growing in my mind, but the pheromone is making it hard to concentrate.

Meanwhile my feet have stepped forward as if of their own accord, and my bare soles are pressing against the mossy pad. The other tribefolk are stepping into the centres of other unoccupied flowers. Rhekhi stands in the one in front of me, treating me to a fine three-quarter view of his firm, well-rounded buttocks.

The scent of pheromone is stronger. It’s getting hard to think at all. His butt’s making me hard. Standing in the flower like that, he almost looks like... no, it can’t be... wait, what was I thinking earlier...?

Faint stinging in my feet. That beautiful bottom makes me so horny. Hard as a rock. Feel like I’m gonna come soon. Getting dark. Something closing over me, hugging me tight. Like a cocoon. Nearly there. Sleepy. Coming while I fall asleep. Feels nice.

Mmm... light... air... did I doze off? Still horny. Still looking at that beautiful bottom. Something different about it? Come to think of it, my own butt feels a bit different somehow. Something in the small of my back. Hands and feet feel funny too, almost like I’ve grown extra fingers and toes.

My head’s slowly clearing. The sun is shining and there’s a warm, pleasant breeze. How long was I asleep? I’m still standing in the middle of the flower, arms at my side, legs slightly apart. The touch of the wind on my skin and genitalia is like foreplay. What a planet. Even the weather wants to fuck me.

I don’t remember the last time I felt this horny. It almost feels like my penis has grown bigger. It’s throbbing insistently, sending hot rushes of pleasure through my crotch as I view that beautiful bottom in front of me. Rhekhi? No, wait, my eyes are playing tricks. That can’t be Rhekhi, it’s green. It’s stamen.

A stamen... standing just where Rhekhi was. Almost as if...

No, it can’t be. Seized with a sudden suspicion, I try to step forward, to raise my arms, to turn my head.

Nothing. There’s not the slightest response.

Oh, gods. I’m standing in the middle of a flower. I can’t move. I can’t speak. I’m so horny...

It’s impossible, but it’s true. I’m a stamen! The flower has transformed me into a stamen!

And there’s nothing a stamen can do except wait to get fucked.

Oh, dear gods. I would never have imagined it, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I’d always assumed the plants grew humanoid stamens from their own bodies in order to lure the locals to mate with them, but I was wrong. Why expend all the energy needed to create a stamen from scratch, when there’s so much humanoid raw material just walking around? All they need to do is make it walk toward them, then prevent it walking away again.

Rhekhi, and all of the other stamens, every stamen on the planet - they’re all living natives; trapped, immobilized, biologically converted, assimilated into the flowers’ bodies to aid in their reproductive cycle. This is the real price the flowers exact on the villagers in exchange for adding variety to their sex lives: a tithe on their population. And now that tithe has claimed me as well.

The biological conversion must have begun as soon as we stepped onto the green pads. I guess their mossy surfaces contained tiny thorns that stung us through the soles of our feet, paralysing us and placing us in hibernation. Their petals lovingly embraced us to form cocoons, while tendrils penetrated our orifices and skin, infiltrating our nerves and arteries, irreversibly binding us to the plants. We slept for half a year, all through the cooler season, while our flesh was slowly altered, merging with the plants’ reproductive systems.

So now the flowers’ hard work is complete. Our bodies are flexible, poseable like mannequins, but our voluntary muscles are now inanimate plant tissue. It’s a weird sensation. I’m literally rooted to the spot. My erection is permanent - the spongy tissues have hardened almost to a literal “woody”! Even though I’m not a native, my biology is close enough that the transformation worked perfectly on me. Well, the computer did tell me I was here at my own risk. If it could see me now I can imagine it saying “I told you so.”

Under the influence of the pheromone, the villagers will use us as love dolls, day after day, month after month, year after year; every summer for the rest of our lives... that is, for as many decades or centuries as it takes for the flowers to reproduce.

Oh, gods of the cosmos, this is all there is now. This is the rest of my existence.

I think I’d begun to guess what was happening when the pheromone lured me onto the stamenless flower, but by then it was too late to escape. So now I have the “fortune” to be the first human to undergo this experience. Unless, of course, others have been stranded here before. If they have, no one will ever know, just as no one will ever know what happened to me.

There are groves like this one all over the planet’s tropical zones, and a native village lies within pheromone range of every one of them. The total number of flowers must run into tens of millions. My mind is reeling at the thought of it.

The villagers must be aware that some of their number go missing every year. Do they ever make the connection between those disappearances at the end of one season, and the appearances of new stamens at the beginning of the next? Do they recognise their lost friends?

Well... probably not. I don’t recall any of the stamens having distinctive faces. It seems the flowers have reshaped us all into generic male or female forms, and I’m no exception. My flower reshaped me to look like a native male, with six-fingered hands, six-toed feet, mossy fur, a stubby tail above a firm, round butt, and a thick, curved erection. There’s nothing left of my original human appearance.

Now, I really don’t mind looking as beautiful as a native. It’s just that none of my friends will recognise me like this. After all the fun we had together, they must miss me. They’ll still be wondering where I went even as they embrace my new body, and I won’t be able to tell them.

What about my stunner ring? I can’t feel it on my new six-fingered hand. It must have dropped off at some point. It’s probably lying at my feet, assuming some creature didn’t run or fly off with it. I can’t bend down to look. If it’s still nearby, someone will find it sooner or later. Well, that’s all right. It can’t stun anybody by accident. It won’t work without proximity to my DNA, and even I don’t have my DNA any more.

There’s one thing I don’t understand. If the flowers only want us for our bodies, why have they allowed us to keep our minds? I can still think as clearly as ever. The square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sums of the squares on the other two sides. “I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.” Kepler’s second law states that a planet of a single star will follow an elliptical orbit, sweeping out equal areas in equal times.

My memory seems equally unimpaired. I can still recall my childhood as clearly as ever. My mother’s fondness for purple outfits. The scent of her homemade dewfruit pies. Playing with my pet plumebird, Liril. Watching Goldmoon and Silvermoon rise over the Therinya forest...

Nostalgia is all very well, but the plants don’t seem to benefit from it. We’d be just as fuckable if we didn’t have brains. The plants would save a lot of energy, and the villagers wouldn’t know any different. So what is the reason for keeping us conscious?

Even as I’m pondering this I hear excited voices approaching. The villagers are arriving to enjoy the start of opening day. As I watch unmoving, a young male and female approach hand in hand and begin to caress the stamen that is Rhekhi. I only get a quick glimpse of the female, but I think it’s Chikhri. The baby she was carrying would be half a year old by now. Births normally run smoothly among the villagers, so her child should be doing well. Despite the floral distractions I know she’ll be a good mother.

Chikhri moves around to Rhekhi’s front, out of my direct view, but it’s fairly clear she’s sucking him. From personal experience I know she’s very keen on that. Meanwhile the male gets behind Rhekhi and, after a few exploratory caresses, begins thrusting into him fiercely. Despite my sympathy for Rhekhi’s helplessness, the sight is making my erection pulse, generating sharp twinges of pleasure. The one part of my body that can still move decisively, and I have no control over it.

Someone else brushes past the male and steps forward to embrace me. It’s none other than my first lover, Rrhu. If my heart was still beating it would be skipping one right now. Can this really be a coincidence, or has he somehow recognised me after all? He doesn’t speak. He just presses his erection against mine and spends a little time rubbing them together. My brain is still sending commands to my nonexistent muscles, even though I know it’s futile. I can’t help or hinder him in any way.

Rrhu moves to my back and strokes my chest and abdomen, then bends me forward at the waist. His erection glides smoothly into my reshaped anus, where I feel it hardening like a rock. After a moment he reaches forward and starts masturbating me as well. Oh, gods, this doesn’t feel like any sexual experience I’ve had before. It’s stronger, hotter, more sensual, as though every single nerve ending is now dedicated solely to pleasure.

What he’s doing is, I seem to recall, almost exactly what I did to that first stamen I ever had sex with. If only I could have known, a year ago on that previous opening day, what I know today. I’ve never been a great believer in karma, but maybe there is some kind of justice in this.

And gods help me, it does feel good. Oh, so good. I want to cry out in ecstasy, counter his thrusts with hip movements, assist his hands with my own. Of course, I can’t do any of that. I can only remain in this pose, acutely aware of my helpless state, and take what he chooses to give me.

So this is what it feels like to be a stamen. To think, before today I thought they couldn’t feel anything at all. The longer it goes on the more my erection seems to thicken, and I swear I can feel my entire body doing the same thing. I suppose that makes sense: my body is now the flower’s sex organ!

And gods help me, there’s a part of me that’s starting to get used to the idea. I wonder if that’s also the flower’s doing.

All right, then, Rrhu. Go on. Take your pleasure from me. Give the flower what it wants. Give us what we both want.

For what feels like two hours my sensations gradually build and build, striving toward a climax that always seems just out of reach, until eventually I feel his body stiffen, and I sense an orgasm beginning. His penis pulses inside me. He emits a long, low moan. I feel his hot semen flooding into me. I feel my plant tissues absorbing it. Every sensation is pure delight. I’m coming as I’ve never come before. On and on, on and on, climaxing hard for what seems like a full minute, then ejaculating, again and again, at least twenty hot, slow explosions of pleasure... oh, yes... yes... Oh, Rrhu, my sweet alien friend, I love you. If only I could tell you. But maybe you sense it somehow? I hope so.

Oh, gods, it’s wonderful, magnificent, beautiful. I can imagine far worse ways to spend the rest of my life than as the flower’s inanimate sex toy. I think the flower is definitely conditioning me to accept it.

And then, just when I think my orgasm is done, the air turns yellow with pollen, and there’s another eruption of pleasure that soars off the scale and keeps on soaring, higher and higher...


Whoa. For a while there I must have blacked out from the intensity. Or maybe whited out would be more accurate. It was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, or anything I’ve ever imagined. It felt as if every nerve in my body was screaming with heavenly delight for an hour, though in reality it probably wasn’t anything like that long. Maybe five minutes, ten at most.

It was long enough, at least, for Rrhu to finish, move on and be replaced by another villager. I think it’s a female. She’s behind me, rubbing her clitoris against my hard, moss-covered buttocks and masturbating me. The touch of those supple, six-fingered hands on my hypersensitized foreskin is exquisite, and for a time I lose myself in it.

Right now the pleasure, though intense, is on a more bearable scale. That super-climax, though, that flood of sensation that overwhelmed conscious thought... that wasn’t part of my orgasm. It happened when the pollen emerged. That came from the flower! It does have a nervous system of its own, and now that nervous system is inextricably connected to mine.

That’s why the flowers keep us stamens fully conscious. They need the sensory feedback. The flowers lure the villagers to copulate with us, and they can feel all of our sexual sensations, and maybe even enjoy them. The flowers need our orgasms to trigger the release of pollen. That gives them orgasms that are far more powerful and long-lasting than ours, and the sensory feedback goes both ways.

Dear gods. It’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if it hadn’t happened to me. To experience such mind-shattering bliss every time one of the villagers couples with me... that’s a staggering prospect. If I could stagger, that is.

Even more staggering is the thought that right now this is happening to millions of other transformed natives in flower groves all over the planet. An inconceivably vast outpouring of physical pleasure. The natives who are mating with us could never imagine it. If they could, would they be envious... or relieved?

While the female continues making sweet love to me, I ponder on the relationship between the flowers and the natives. How did it ever get started? Has it existed since the natives were arboreal anthropoids? How could it have evolved in the first place?

Only... maybe it didn’t evolve. Maybe the plants were genetically engineered for this very purpose by super-advanced aliens conducting some kind of weird socio-sexual experiment. Maybe somewhere, on a nearby planet or dimension, we are still being observed, our sexual responses studied and analysed, maybe even re-experienced and enjoyed by some unimaginable beings.

Alternatively, could the flowers be some kind of biological weapon, designed to trap the unwary? That might make sense if they targeted specific individuals or groups, but from what I’ve seen they just take whoever’s available.

Then again, maybe our sexual energy is being collected and used to power some kind of alien devices whose purpose we could never understand.

In the end, I don’t suppose it matters. Speculation keeps my mind occupied, but it’s not as if I can go looking for answers. I’m only a flower’s sex organ, one of millions, and there’s nothing any of us, can do but get used to it.

That is, assuming it’s possible to get used to it. Just one floral climax was almost too much for me to endure, and I might experience ten more before this day is out. What’s going to be left of my mind after a whole summer? Ten summers? A hundred? For all I know, all the older stamens may have been driven insane by the constant overdoses of pleasure. It’s not like there’s any way to tell.

And now the female is coming, and I’m coming too, YES! YES! YESSS! Then the world turns yellow and my flower is coming, sharing its orgasm with me, and it’s getting... hard to think... about anything... at all.

I... only hope... insanity... will be... interesting...

OH, GODS... OH, GODS... OH, GODS... OH, GODS... OHHHHH......