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The Ecology of the Pushti Fruit

by Neville Smalls (As Told To Ken Megill)

Of all the strange and exotic things that I have seen both on Mars and in the South Pacific, the strangest of all is undoubtedly the symbiotic relationship between the Pushti Tree and the Pushti Monkey. While there are lower forms of life which are highly dependent on another creature, and higher forms which may receive some useful service from a symbiotic relationship, no other pair discovered to date are both so highly advanced and interdependent.

The Pushti Fruit is about the size of a small watermelon, oval in shape and fourteen to eighteen inches in length. As is much other life on Mars, the fruits are a pale red color with a grainy texture. The Pushti Tree itself reaches a height of sixteen to twenty feet, with a thick trunk two and one half to three feet across. Starting about eight feet off of the ground, four inch branches form a normal seeming canopy. The main branches quickly divide into smaller and smaller sub-branches (as you would expect) from which sprout lush and fast growing leaves. The Pushti Fruit themselves grow from the roots of the tree, not becoming visible until the are about five inches in length. When ripe, only one quarter of the fruit will remained buried. Each tree will produce between eight and twenty one fruits. (Or melons, as I am told that both words are equal in their inaccuracy.)

The Pushti monkey is a rather nasty little creature, with ugly greenish grey fur that does do a good job of helping the beast to hide. They stand about two feet tall, and as their name might hint are simian in appearance. They have nasty little claws on their four fingered hands, the claws being just long enough to inflict damaging gashes, and yet short enough to let them throw rocks with considerable accuracy. Unlike Earthly monkeys, they have no tails, but they do have long and strong toes, which enable them to climb about easily.

While the Pushti monkeys live in the Pushti trees year round, the evidence of the relationship between the two is only apparent for three weeks of each year. I began my observations of the Pushti creatures immediately after the annual Pushti fruit harvest in the eight tree grove of the Baron Jason Ebert, a very respectable elderly gentleman whose cooperation was invaluable. I was informed that the monkeys were notorious for their bad temper after the harvest, and after one ill fated foray I restricted my first months observations to a telescope set up a short distance from the grove. After the first month, I had yet to see anything but a lot of fights among the Pushti monkeys, although I was able to confirm the rather obvious fact that Pushti monkeys eat Pushti tree leaves. After six weeks, the little buggers seemed to have stopped killing each other, and I noted that the monkey population was only four fifths what it had been immediately after the harvest. After a total of seven months observing the monkeys, I was able to arrive at only two conclusions, although two significant ones. Firstly, the male Pushti monkeys fought constantly. Second, at no time did I observe any form of sexual activity go on between any of them. In fact, for quite a while I did not observe any of the female Pushti monkeys, and I guessed, correctly as it turned out, that they were caring for their young at a safe distance from the males.

I continued my observations, but saw absolutely nothing else of interest until around five weeks before the next harvest was due. At that time, it became apparent that the female Pushti Monkeys were going into heat. My reasoning behind this conclusion was quite straightforward. The hindquarters of the females was becoming inflamed, and a pale red patch of skin had become visible. Also the fighting actually slowed down, as the males began to lavish attention on the females. Three days later, all hell broke loose as one of the females submitted to the animal lust of the long abstinent males. Within five minutes a Caligulan orgy was in full swing, with the entire hoard engaging in multiple acts of unbridled lust. Needless to say I was shocked by the intensity of their passion, but I forced myself to watch for the sake of science. Ten minutes later the males began to conclude their business, and after five more minutes the creatures had all found spots to rest themselves. I did notice that the hindquarters of the female had returned to normal. About an hour later, one of the males roused himself and approached a female. He was rebuffed. After four more hours of observation, I realized that while the females were no longer in heat, the males were ready for more. The fighting quickly renewed, and several monkeys were killed. Over the next week, the monkeys stayed in an extra foul mood, and I noticed that they spent a lot of their time examining the nearly ripe melons now mostly revealed upon the ground. The next morning I finally discovered the true nature of the relationship between the Pushti tree and the Pushti monkey. Overnight, one of the fruit had finally ripened, and had split slightly near one end. One of the males soon saw this, and much to my utter amazement, began committing an absolutely unspeakable act with the melon! Appalled, I realized the similarity between the ripe fruit and the aroused female Pushti monkey. This disgusting pattern of behavior continued all the way until the harvest. The conclusion that the monkeys were actually performing a "service" to the trees in the way of cross pollinization was obvious, as was the benefit to the Pushti Monkeys. I am choosing to publish these somewhat rude facts in this respectable journal to warn the reader of the true nature of this Martian "delicacy" and its well-marbled flesh.

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:50:47 EDT

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