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Backster Effect
Written and illustrated by Vikki Zhang
Front: In the 1960s Cleve Backster, an interrogation specialist with the CIA, conducted research that led him to believe that plants can communicate with other lifeforms. In February 1966, he tried to measure the rate at which water rises from a philodendron’s root into its leaves. Because a polygraph can measure electrical resistance, which would alter when the plant was watered, he attached a polygraph to one of the plant’s leaves. Backster stated that, to his immense surprise, “the tracing began to show a pattern typical of the response you get when you subject a human to emotional stimulation of short duration”

(^Backster, Cleve. (2003). Primary Perception: Biocommunication with Plants, Living Foods, and Human Cells. White Rose Millennium Press. ISBN 978-0966435436)
Miss Tomato, Miss Onion and Madam Cauliflower moved to New Pot City on the same day, and they coincidently rented their apartments in the same building ---Grocery Valley.
They were neighbors, but didn’t talk much.
They all lived alone, and all want something big from this metropolis.
Chapter 1
A Charming Tomato

  Room 204 lived Miss Tomato
  She came from a small town, grew up with incessant warnings from her mother: “be careful when showing off your beauty. It’s better for you to stay a little bit conservative. She was such a gorgeous tomato, with smooth shinny skin of the most ardent red you can imagine in the world, and a luxuriant green crown of hair on top. The sound of her steps walking made a delightful melody. She’d run fast and trippingly, like a little deer, and while sleeping she was like a rose in bud.
(above: A photo taken in Miss Tomato's childhood )
  However, she loved showing off, especially in pretty clothes. The best time for her is walking down the street, showered with compliments from every corner of the town. However, small town’s compliments were not at all enough for this young and ambitious lady.
  The stage she belonged on should have been a real megalopolis like New Pot City.
  She booked a ticket and left.
  Unexpectedly, New Pot City reacted to this rosy visitor half-heartedly. Miss Tomato found herself treated as common and negligible there. Especially when she walked around the city, all the hippest vegetables from all over the world passed her by in a never-ending ow. All the other tomatoes she saw were more charming than her.
  How could an ordinary tomato like her get attention in New Pot City?
Chapter 2 
Another reject email

  Room 206 lived Madam Cauliflower.
  New Pot City meant something completely different to Madam Cauliflower. She was a housewife dreaming of becoming a journalist. She knew how glamorous and angel-faced this city could seen while in fact, how fierce and evil it was. She thought she was all ready to enter the competition, so she sold her house, which was her property after her divorce, and delivered her children to her parents.
  Now she stepped out into the wide and shinning streets of New Pot City, proudly although in fact she was really depressed. This was because of the 500 rejection emails she had gotten so far. That’s too much pain for a dreamer right?
  She tried various kinds of news to raise the editors interest, from celebrity gossip to reports on the Vegetable Union Parliament’s latest bill. She had written about almost everything that could happen on this planet, so what the heck did people want to read in the newspaper?
  There was a pair of conjoined grape twins living in this building as well.
  Last year they inherited their father’s large fortune, then lived in extreme luxury, which attracted successive suitors. But they refused them all because of fear for separation surgeries if one of them decide to get married.
Chapter 3 
Miss Onion’Secret

  Room 208 lived Miss Onion
  The reason I didn’t introduce Miss Onion earlier is that her life was a little bit tedious. She was a native of New Pot. She had moved out of her family’s house and lived alone for an ironic reason.
  To save her family and friends from getting dehydrated.
  Because she was a red onion, unfortunately born with unusually heavy body odor, people close to her couldn’t stop crying. That issue got even worse as she was grow- ing up. At her 20th birthday party, the room was flooded with excessive tears of joy from her visitors, and some of them were sent first-aid for losing too much moisture in tears, like her aunt Mrs Kale who turned into a kale chip in the end.
Chapter 4
The Root Vegetable Gang &
Miss Tomato Kidnapped by Boss Potato

It’s very rare for people to experience the dark side of New Pot City, but the Root Vegetable Gang was an organized group of the worst guys in the underground, led by the Irish potato family since the 18th century.
Above: Miss Beet --Boss Potato's lover.
  One day, Miss Tomato felt like a drink and mistakenly walked into the bar where the Root Vegetable Gang was meeting secretly. It was too late for the Broccoli Bar- tender to warn Miss Tomato, as he was focusing on covering up the evidence of a recent murder in the bar. Thus, he absolutely ignored Miss Tomato.
  However, she knew absolutely nothing about the Root Vegetable Gang, and in fact. She while sitting there in the bar, she overheard them planning their next crime. That is why Boss Potato’s bodyguards saw Miss Tomato sitting behind them and grabbed her.
Chapter 5 
Neighbor Rescue

  Madam Cauliflower was taking a walk, still deep in her depression. The gangster’s black helicopter swept right over her like a dark cloud massed in the sky, and then she saw her tiny neighbor—Miss Tomato dangling in the air under the helicopter. Madam Cauliflower was terribly shocked but had zero ideas of what to do.
  Miss Onion never had told her body odor secret to anyone in her new building. But after she heard Miss Tomato was in danger, she decided to rescue her with Madam Cauliflower, using her heavy odor and the extra spicy sausage nunchakus given by her great grandfather as their weapon.
  They made it! Madam Cauliflower wrote this experience, submitted it to the most well-read paper in New Pot and finally got published ! She also later won the annual new journalist award. As for Miss Tomato, since the article was read by everyone, people wanted to know which tomato got kidnapped and escaped from the world’s most dangerous underground gang, so she became hugely famous as she had dreamed.. Miss Onion went back to her quiet secret life of hiding.
Below : How Miss Tomato, Miss Onion and Madam Cauliflower look like as real human characters. 
Exhibition & Art Products
Thank you for viewing this story ! Which vegetable lady you love best :-P

Backster Effect
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Vikki Zhang

Backster Effect

A personal project in 2018, telling a story about 3 vegetable ladies 's exciting experience in metropolitan, exploring my interest in fashion, ho Read More