My first decent sci-fi short story, and one of my first serious attempts at writing since English class at school.
He looked up, and there above him was the dirgible. It glistened in the morning sun, like ivory nectar hanging from the leaf of the sky, other colours dancing across it's surface. A Pearl. The final and most magnificent one of all.
Simon sat quickly, however, as if he'd been stung, when the Wasps shot past. How had they found this haven so soon? So many plans, so much care, so much time and too many lives to ensure that what had just happened couldn't.
This, the last of the floating freighters, the life-boats that could so effortlessly glide between as well as through space, was carrying his love. Karen, his life-partner, cocooned in the silver orb turned prison.
Under the assault of the Wasp ships, the pearly hue of the hull was becoming tinted with red, like blood spattered bone, flecked with white-hot bursts of striking energy.
How. How, how, how? It couldn't be, it shouldn't be. Such terrible treachery on the part on the part of a universe that could allow a betrayal of hope and love was impossible to grasp. Simon's mind revolted under what is was being asked to accept, and turned inwards, fleeing from the imposible nightmare outside.
Seeing with a clarity that none had ever before experienced, Simon studied his conciousness. Each part of his mind on display in front of him, shifting and warping like shadows, twisted by his very attention, yet always identifiable, and always transparent to his gaze.
He could see his love for Karen, a huge, billowing cloud, smothering so many of the other, smaller, shades. His temper, that had been so prominent before, was now a fleeting, cowardly creature beside it.
Swarming in amongst them, tiny, flickering patches, that twitched and pulsed between shapes, between groups, sometimes part of one emotion, then swelling another. The many hidden and forgotten events, traumas and experiences, each of which, in concert with the others, helped to construct his personality. Fascinated, Simon watched their incessant dance, their mesmerising interplay, the world outside him forgotten for a moment.
Then, a glistening, incongruous shape was revealed for the merest instant behind the darkest recess of his psyche. It was wrong. He'd only glimpsed it for a moment, yet now his attention had been drawn to it he could feel its movements, its attempts to hide. He followed it, hunted it down. This was his mind, and no matter how long it had hidden here, he knew it better.
Caught, it writhed and stuggled against his study. It didn't take long. One glance, and the answer sent a maelstrom thundering through his mindfield. Horror, anger, fear, despair, terror, anguish wrapped together and swirling round and over each other, all other emotions swept aside under the onslaught.
It was a Wasp mind, or at least a part of one. A sliver of Wasp consciousness, planted deep inside his. How long it had lain there, monitoring, watching, reporting, he didn't know. Time was immaterial. All that mattered was that he, Simon, was the reason the Wasps were here now. He was the reason his beloved Karen was dead. He had betrayed her, betrayed everybody. He'd sentenced the entire human race to death.
Desperation, an overwhelming hatred of himself, swept through his mind, fueled by the images of the burning symbol of hope that had been the dirgible. Him. He had caused this. It was all his fault.
NO! Anger, a sheer, raw, primal rage. They. The Wasps. As always, the Wasps. Their origin a mystery. Their purpose an enigma. All that could be discerned was their hatred of mankind, and the design of their ships. The latter produced their name, the former the technology that spurred mankind to this chance at escape.
This anger, the sheer power of Simon's rage against all that had been lost by this treachery transcended a mental boundary, crossed through into hidden depths.
Simon ceased to be. His lifeforce, his conciousness, empowered by his combined love and hate, mingled and merged, and flooded through the link the frail Wasp fragment had made into his mind. It shot, instinctively at first, but with growing awareness, from Wasp mind to Wasp mind, absorbing, twisting, bending. It left behind mindless husks, dark reflections of the lifeless shell turned cage of Simon's body, which was now lying empty on the grass.
With insight, came power. The increasing knowledge the entity-that-had-been-Simon gained increased its reach and abilities. To a mind, to know is all. Knowledge is life, is control, is power. Every mind devoured added to what it knew, to what it had experienced, and therefore to what it could do.
Eventually, it understood, knowledge taken to its limit. The remaining Wasps absorbed, gone, their purpose complete.
That-which-was-no-longer-Simon turned towards its origins. It looked upon the millions of minds that, each one housing the same potential, not yet realised. All that was needed was the key to their cage, a key that was now available.
Time had already become meaningless to humans, being no more of a barrier than air with the technology developed under the pressure of the Wasps' attacks, the same technology that powered the Pearl dirgibles. In this new, post-larval form, matter became equally unnecessary. To exist was all.
That had been the eternal question. Why did they exist? Now they had the ultimate answer, and had they not passed beyond such base feelings, they would have been shocked. Now however, they knew, and that was all.
They transferred their attention, for that was all that was left to move, back through time, and created information, in the form of a twinned, spiraling molecule, on an insignificant planet.
They watched it grow, develop, twist and mutate. The life, as a whole, matured, and passed into adulthood.
Yet they were not the only creations of the conciousness that had been humankind. Far away, a reflection of the same process was also growing. This new growth was far simpler, far more focused, for it only had one task. It did not need to be beautiful. Quite the opposite.
Just as an oyster only produces a pearl in response to irritation, so too the growing humankind needed an irritant to reach their final potential. The Wasps. Built by humanity-that-was-humanity-no-longer, the sworn enemy of mankind was its greatest gift.
Mankind swelled its consciousness to fill the universe, watched and guided everything, an infinite, perfect pearl. Then, it rested.
(March 24th, 2003, 11:34 am)
A nice paradox. I do love your finished pieces.
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