Extremophile

by 

Author : Aaron Koelker

I had eaten a ham sandwich the morning we found God. It wasn’t exactly the foundation of great literature. Perhaps they would write in a great feast and how our crew was a likable bunch both humble and imperfect. You know, a “twelve apostles” sort of crew, all dedicated to our own view of a higher power. Which wasn’t too far from the truth. We were a pretty diverse crew, and whether it was planned that way or just poor luck I’ll never know.

The creature that floated before our bow was certainly god-like in scope, but little else. It looked like a planetoid gourd covered in warts and veins, gently pulsing in sync with the starry background.

“My God…” the co-pilot gasped, her eyes wide.

“Which one you talking to?” the engineer laughed.

“That thing is a monstrosity,” the co-pilot finished.

The engineer made way for the coffee machine, smiling to himself. “I don’t know”, he said. “I find it sort of humbling.”

The head science officer walked into the room.

“Well, the scanners confirm it,” he said. “That thing is expelling organic matter in every direction. A spore-like vessel; just like the ones we’ve been finding.” He stopped in front of the forward port and gazed upon the beast. “We’ll need more time to derive its age, composition, metabolism…and of course its origin.”

“The Panspermians are going to go nuts,” I said.

The science officer turned toward me.

“Granted we can prove it’s really the source.”

“Everything we’ve collected and studied; all the sleuth-work has brought us to this place. This backwater space on the edge of nowhere.” I paused as I watched the creature, not yet sure what to think of it, only that it existed. “It has to be.”

“We should leave it,” said the co-pilot. “We should get out of here. That thing,” spoken with the utmost disgust, “wasn’t meant to be found.”

“Oh don’t get all prophetic on us,” said the engineer. “Why the fuck would you sign onto this expedition?”

“I don’t know. But it wasn’t to find that.”

I saw her discreetly twiddling with the bracelet she wore under her sleeve, the one bearing the sign of her faith. She had shown it to me the night before.

“Where are the other three?” I asked.

“In their cabins, I believe.”

I left and found the medical officer sitting on his bunk, the door to his cabin ajar. There was a thick book in his hands from which he read aloud, fast and mumbling.

“You alright in here?” I asked.

He didn’t answer. I waited a moment longer before leaving to find the other two science officers. They weren’t in the lab, so I figured they must’ve been down in the cargo hold, looking over the collected spore samples.

The hold was dark, and upon entering a sharp acrid smell filled my nose.

“Anybody in here?” I called.

No answer. I ventured toward the back where the samples were kept. There, half-wedged onto the bottom shelf, was a makeshift chemical bomb thrown together with spare parts and lab supplies. A puddle of leaked fluid slicked the metal floor.

Beside the bomb lay one of the science officers, a long stain of blood running down his collar. In one hand he held a scalpel and the other a metal charm strung on a silver chain. I recognized the symbol; an extremist cult. One that lead a world power and over two billion people through its strict law; one that couldn’t afford to have that law grow fallacious.

Perhaps we hadn’t found God after all.

 

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