I read the story I'm looking for in the early nineties, as part of an anthology. The narrator was a man who had been at least partially responsible for the (I believe, but am not certain) nuclear/radiation catastrophe. They are metaphorically and literally ridden by the infected full-back tattoo of his daughter, who died in the catastrophe.

The devastated wasteland is haunted by roses which grow into human bodies and bloom by bursting through the skull, after which they continue to walk and look for more hosts. I didn't buy the collection at the time, but the one story stuck in my mind.

  • You have a nice start here but can you take a look at this guide and edit in anymore details? For example, was it an old or new anthology at the time you saw it? Do you remember any plot details?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 19, 2018 at 10:23
  • 1
    At first, the title almost made me think of The Day of the Triffids.
    – Clockwork
    Nov 2, 2018 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


This is “Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back” (1992) by Joe R. Lansdale.

They did it — they launched the damned nukes and the world went pretty much straight to hell. Not many survived, but some of those who did emerged twenty years later, to a world where mutant whales heaved themselves across the blackened, dry seabed of the Pacific, and the roses… oh God, the roses.

I think the anthology is Wastelands 2 by John Joseph Adams.


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