Let me tell you a little story, and then maybe you’ll understand why we do things the way we do.

A tourist–a kid whose parents were tourists–found something that they thought was neat on the beach. A little seed with three lobes, radial symmetry. The parents didn’t think anything of it, let the kid bring the seed home in a bucket of seashells and sand. Customs didn’t even inspect them.

Week later, parents notice a little three-petaled flower growing in the kid’s bag. It smells awful, so they throw it out. Two weeks later, those smelly flowers are all over the dump and none of the garbagemen can breathe. Three weeks later, and weird-colored vines are showing up all over the town full of more flowers.

People start talking about things with three legs stomping around in the parts of town where no one can breathe after about a month. Not long after that, they get hungry and start dragging people in. Nobody gets a good look at them, because they breathe and sweat the same poisonous fumes that the flowers do. It’s not long before the whole place is a ghost town.

You might think that would be the end of it, but it’s not. The stuff just kept spreading, and soon there were flowers with three lobes, fish with three lobes, nasty predators with three lobes, and all of them were making things more poisonous by the day. They tried to blast them out, but that only spread the seeds further. Because they didn’t go through quarantine, the family that took a vacation on X-23 wound up unleashing a cyanide-based ecosystem at home, and the entire planet had to be abandoned.

That’s why we have quarantine, and that’s why it lasts as long as it does. Not to bug you or inconvenience you; to keep your planet from being colonized and destroyed by something you were dumb enough to bring home with you.

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Exodus had the Burning Bush. Us? We had the Buzzing Bush.

For two weeks every semester, the bush between the parking lot and out building would burst into full bloom. It was on the ugly side of campus, the part built during the 60s when bricking over green spaces and making everything look like a bloated concrete slab was de rigueur, so it was likely the only flowering thing for 500-1000 feet in any direction.

Which, naturally, meant it was the target of every hornet, wasp, honeybee, and bumblebee within approximately that same radius.

The bush buzzed alarmingly during its time in bloom, and anyone who stopped to smell the flowers would quickly find themselves pursued by multiple species of stingy thingy. We all wisely decided to give the thing a wide berth if we could during that time, but there were moments, especially when there was heavy foot traffic, when we found ourselves pushed uncomfortably close to the Buzzing Bush.

It was nothing but an annoyance, with an occasional squawk as someone was divebombed by a hymenoptera, but no stings that anyone could remember. At least until that day in April when we heard a cry that was much more than a surprised yelp.

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“I had that dream again, computer.”

“Are you referring to the recurring dream of which you have complained for some months now?”

“That’s right. Me, walking…surrounded by color and fragrance, flowers of every shape and variety. It’s…it’s impossible, but I think I may be starting to believe it may be real, computer.”

“Come now, sir. There is no such thing as flowers.”

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