Author : RFK

There is a 65% chance I’m thinking with you now, though your scientists believe it to be smaller if you’ve heard of me at all.

Although I found you mammals late in the Cretaceous period, I was legion when the Cenozoic era began. I started with small marsupial-like rodents who later because extinct. Conquest and expansion are my way; peace is incomprehensible. I infected their favorite food source – a small insect then prevalent. There, I latched on to their light sensing apparatus in the cerebral ganglia. Usually, light was the bugs’ bane – their predators devoured them in droves if they stayed up too far into morning. By worming my way in an axon here, a dendrite there, I made the entire speies average staying 32 minutes later in the daylight. They were devoured. The extinction bothered me not; I had already escaped.

And so I entered my next hosts. And many more after that…across eras endlessly evolving – through marsupials, birds, cats, many others – until I came to your kind. You were larger and cannier, seeming champions of your own destiny as you brazenly wielded your neocortical wealth to the detriment of your prey. But we evolved together, with my kin warping you in so many ways. Some drove your ancestors mad, but these were just driven from the herd and left to die alone, as did we. Some inflamed the skin, making boils that would launch us into the air, hoping to find a new host quickly but seldom so lucky. These infected were shunned as well – many were burned when you evolved religions and rites – precursors to your hated germ theory.

But I survived. I was subtle. A guanine here, a thymine there was all it took. Such a wonderful playground your species is! I had more than 100x the body mass to propagate in and 1000x the neurons compared to those ancient rodents. I didn’t have just a photoreceptor array to alter; I had an infinity of subtle ways I could advantage myself. Some failed, like the boils, but some did not. Thankfully, many did not.

I affect your soma and your sex but mostly your brain and mind. My touch is subtle – you are bolder because of me. The same tricks I used to make mice more readily eaten by cats make you reach out and explore, try new things. Your social rites that make you touch – that was me. The insecurity many of you feel in the depths of your soul drives you to one another to desperately assuage the longing I induce. Even better, one in a hundred of your girl children I turn male and infect in the womb. I give him other advantages that you see and admire. I only care that he is fertile, desirous of creating many offspring and skilled in doing so because of me.

Call me toxoplasma gondii. And you are mine.

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