Alan Hiiragi was a human and the protagonist of The Man Who Hungered For Trees, an assistant director in a game studio tasked with looking into the whereabouts of the programmer for the company named Paul Anderson. He ended up being used as a sacrifice to replace Paul's old body and was turned into a cannabis plant.
Alan was a man of half-Japanese and half-European descent, with the specifics unknown.
Alan had an inferiority complex as he found himself not being suited for his role as an assistant director, often leaving the people he worked with feeling exasperated, but wanting someone to thank and appreciate him. As a result, when he found the method Paul used to make his programming he attempted to replace him in the hopes of becoming too valuable to ever be fired.
Alan was taken in as an assistant director for a game studio but couldn't help them in any meaningful way, and so he was given odd jobs. One day a programmer with interesting skills named Paul joined and he was assigned to look after him, as the man wouldn't leave his flat. Despite Paul constantly telling him he should quit as he lacked the talent, he kept working and doing the odd jobs until Paul went missing.
The Golden Yarn
The short story picked up with Alan arriving at Paul's place and searching for him, or at the very least his programming code as none of the people in the company could emulate it since he didn't leave comments in the source code. He ended up falling asleep and recalling a conversation he had a month ago with Paul about cultivated the coding, only to wake when he felt something brushing his hand and assumed it was rats.
He ventured to the store the next day to buy rat poison when a strange boy warned him that he had been marked by the neighbors and should leave while he still had time since they were a quick study. However, as Alan didn't understand the warning he paid it little mind. He then decided to search for an external hard drive of Paul's work by investigating the shack that Paul had out back and discovered he grew an enormous amount of cannabis plants within it. Beyond the sea of leaves he found a flat stone on the floor and noticed that the ashes of burned cannabis were spread into a ring with a burn mark in the center like a black stain on it, so black it resembled a hole in the rock and felt like he was peering into another world.
He left the shed afterwards and fell asleep, before being woken by the sensation of something touching and crawling over him. It was then he discovered that invisible creatures were doing the programming for Paul's assignments. Intrigued by this, he experimented and learned that they would write code during the noon and at midnight, ate foods that were high in animal protein like fish and cheese, and left human bites the size of his thumb. He then decided to secure his position as someone who wasn't worthless by learning how to give them instructions.
Initially he was unable to make them do as he wished until he went back into the shed and discovered that the cannabis plants were being used to carry out a ritual. By taking a few leaves and burning them on the mark that was in the center of the stone, a black bud would sprout from it. By sacrificing a rat and burying it within a pot with the bud, along with written instructions, what he presumed to be Brownies would carry out the coding and turned the cannabis plant into a subroutine to be carried out. But for more complex codes he would need a bigger sacrifices that would have their bodies dissolved and only bones left behind.
It was through this knowledge and his boss' demand for high-level coding that Alan eventually realized that a human sacrifice would be necessary and drove him to seek out if Paul had done the same, leading him to discover a planter with a human skeleton within it. He burned the leaves to see what it was that Paul had been willing to sacrifice someone for, to see if he could wrest control of it, only for the next bud that blossomed from the hole to be human-sized and reveal itself to be Paul.
The Brownies then grabbed Alan and forced him into a planter, covering him up with soil while Paul explained that he would become a tree and crossover to where the neighbors were, much as he did. Alan's body faded where the roots touched and he was reborn as a cannabis plant.