Q&(A?)

Author: Alex Z. Salinas

There was once a creature much like a man who lived on a planet all alone. He was carbon-based, drank water, and received nutrients from luscious plant life born from fertile soil. Because the creature was always left to his thoughts, and possessed what you’d call higher-order thinking abilities, he, in approximately 50 earth years, discovered the meaning of life. Yes, in roughly half a human lifetime by 21st century standards, he identified what it was his purpose was on that vast, lonely planet. His discovery filled him with joy. He-without-a-name—for there was no need for him to assume an identity—lived another 200 earth years in solitude, his mood only affected natural weather events and illnesses associated with change in temperature. Only once, on a rather warm night, did the creature have a nightmare. He dreamed of another him. In his nightmare, his twin was identical to him in every way except one, and he, recognizing this in the eyes of his twin, stood paralyzed in terror before his other. When he woke up, his skin hot and sweaty, he was relieved to find his world as it was. He soon forgot about his nightmare and went on with his life.

Upon his death, the discovery of the meaning of his life perished alongside with him. His body decayed into the fertile soil, and eventually, traces that he had ever existed ceased to exist.

***

There’s a planet impossibly distant from earth where hyperintelligent creatures with mirror-bodies roam. They communicate by absorbing light from their giant red sun, processing the energy into uniquely coded data, then transmitting it decoded to each other via reflection. This occurs soundlessly. The transmission of information—their language—also serves as their food source, supplying their bodies with necessary nutrients. The inherent flaw in these creatures’ design, as is true with two mirrors facing each other, is light reflected between them gets dissolved into oblivion. The particles scatter seemingly until they disappear. This means the creatures’ thoughts fragment and distort until their original content is lost entirely. Think “the telephone game.” Eventually, the mirror creatures, through the act of communication, are driven mad. As they age, they develop increasingly distrustful, violent, and suicidal ideas of their world. Since they require communication for nourishment, there’s no cure for their deadly madness. Life on their planet is brutal and unhappy. Brutally unhappy.

***

Humans and their love—love: the so-called boundless driver of their action. But what your kind has gained with love it has also lost in flesh, for you manipulate. Your proneness to attach to others—to philosophies, objects, and gods—seems to define your purpose. All leading to slaughter. I’ve noted your behavior mirrors the mirror creatures, in that dispersion of your language occurs daily. But unlike the mirror creatures, your communication is not a food source. Rather, it’s a choice. Luckily, for your sake, the mirror creatures don’t know about this.

So to answer your question, the meaning of life, as you can guess, boils down to a matter of space, angle, and insertion point. I’ve told you enough for you to draw your own conclusions, so be on your way.
But one last thing. The difference between prosperity and destruction, in your case, walks a tightrope. An infant’s breath can tip it over.

Whether you remain or not, I can’t tell. Either way, I’ll still be here.

1 Comment

  1. Adam Gerencser

    Whoa, this made my Saturday. Reminds me of Stapledonian world-building pieces from the 1930s. A book you might enjoy, Alex, is ‘Squaring the Circle’ by Sasarman (translated into English by le Guin): each chapter is a stand-alone description of an imaginary city with unique properties.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

  • Ashes to Ashes

    Author : Debbie Mac Rory The high preacher approached the …

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member

Submissions

We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact ssmith@365tomorrows.com