Xogenes lifted the dandelion clock to his lips, pursed them, and blew gently. Fluffy seeds parted company with the flower's centre and launched into the air; white fuzz forming tiny fractal clouds against the deep blue of the sky. One, he thought, and pursed his lips to blow again.
The dandelion clock struck thirteen before all the seeds had gone and he laid the remnants of the flower down. Thirteen o'clock, a strange hour for a strange day. He looked around, wondering if the other dandelion clocks might agree, but found that Clytie had picked them all before him. She had bundled them together, and, holding them in her cybernetic hand, was blowing on them like a voiceless banshee, her face red with effort and her eyes bulging from her skull. A virtual fog of dandelion seeds launched from her hand and drifted westwards with the prevailing breeze.
"What time do you make it?" he asked when she'd finished at last and was gasping like a fish out of water.
"Forty-two... o'clock...," she said between gasps, and Xogenes laughed.
"I got thirteen," he said. "I thought that was odd, but at least it's an hour on the twenty-four hour clock."
"You got a military dandelion?" Clytie scrunched up her face in an effort to look thoughtful, but ended up looking like she was sucking on a lemon. "That's kind of interesting really, how would you weaponise a dandelion?"
"I wouldn't," said Xogenes. "You would. You also got forty-two o'clock and used up all the dandelions."
"Yeah," said Clytie, her breathing starting to come under control now. "Tough luck, Xoggie,"
They lay back in the grass, smelling the flowers growing around them and listening to the hum and buzz of insects. Leaves rustled in the distance, sussurating hypnotically and Xogenes allowed himself to relax. There was no-one here to see them, no-one to question their closeness and friendship, no-one to tell them that blowing the seeds off dandelions was pointle–
"You'd want to make the core explosive," said Clytie, breaking into his reverie. "Maybe two layers though, one to free the seeds first and the second to explode in the face of the person blowing on it."
"I wouldn't," said Xogenes again. "I'd paint dandelions, or perhaps make a sculpture of them. I think one of the mad artists did something similar with some flowers associated with the sun."
"...could be," said Xogenes, unsure. "I think there was a severed ear involved as well."
"Hah! And you say you wouldn't weaponise things!"
"He might have painted with the severed ear," said Xogenes, knowing that it was a bit of a stretch. "People paint with palette knives and by squirting paint out of thei–"
"Don't know, don't care!" Clytie was a bit of a prude sometimes, which continually surprised Xogenes. The woman had a cybernetic hand, and he couldn't imagine how you could embrace that kind of physical transformation without losing your prudery. Instead, she was somehow hyper aware of what was self and what was non-self. She was like a T-cell.
"I don't think the dandelions cut his ear off."
"Jerusalem Artichokes," said Clytie. "But if you shape the explosive charge you might actually be able to cut an ear off with it. Imagine that, you blow on a dandelion to tell the time and it blows the side of your head off!"
"I don't think you should sound happy about that," said Xogenes, cringing a little. He was glad that they were lying side by side so she couldn't see that. "Can't you weaponise it in a less violent way?"
"What, like... like, you blow on it and it blows back on you? Nerve gas!"
"Where do you store enough nerve gas to kill a human?" said Xogenes. "That's ridiculous."
"Back to the explosives then," said Clytie, still sounding cheerful.
"And why dandelions? They're not very pretty to look at like this."
"Yeah, but people interact with them. When was the last time you saw someone interact with a tulip?"
"You attacked me with a vase of them last week. Then Thomas came home and looked at us like we were naughty children and suggested I leave." Thomas was Clytie's husband and the most sensible person that either Clytie or Xogenes knew.
"Oh yeah. Still, normal people."
"Oh well, normal people...."
They fell silent again and stared up into the sky, watching as real clouds slowly pulled themselves together from frail white wisps drifting seemingly aimlessly around. The insects continued to buzz and hum, and the breeze continued to gently disturb the nearby trees so that they rustled and shook like men afraid of pickpockets.
"Flesh-eating bacteria," said Clytie. "Sprayed onto the seeds so that when you blow on them to dislodge them, the vortex formations pull the bacteria back to the face of the blower and condemn them to four days of agony as their face is eaten back to the skull."
"How do you know it's four days?" said Xogenes before he could stop himself. Then, "and stop weaponising the damn flowers!"
"Four days," said Clytie, sounding pleased he'd asked.....