Author : Todd Hammrich

My name is Jeffrey Donahume and I’m making this report in case anyone out there is listening. I am the pilot of Single Shot 5 of the one-way exploratory expeditions. I was on my way out of the system when, unfortunately, my ship was damaged entering the Oort Cloud. Most of my equipment was damaged but I was able to maneuver the ship to land on a strange asteroid my sensors detected right before impact. While my communications array is no longer reliable, I hope and pray that someone detects this transmission, because it will change the way we think about the Universe.

After a somewhat rough landing upon the asteroid I left the ship with my few handheld sensors, the ships more powerful ones being out of commission. The asteroid itself was roughly spherical, but had a strange surface feature I intended to examine more closely because it was registering as a heat source. Having landed fairly close to the anomaly, it was an easy walk from the shuttle. You may not believe me, but I nearly fainted when I came upon it, because it was a console of some sort. Not human in origin, but definitely of an advanced technical design. The heat source was emanating from what I could only identify as the interface, indicating to me that it was still active.

I approached it, intending to examine it closely with my instruments when I felt a strange sensation sweep through my body and then…I was somewhere else. And I remembered.

I was a single celled organism newly evolved from the primordial soup of some distant world. Millions of years passed away with nearly no change as I swam and divided in an ocean full of creatures just like me. Then I came into contact with another of my kind and something happened, we connected and joined. Our bodies didn’t merge, but our minds did, rudimentary as they were and we were…stronger, smarter, better. Soon we had an entire colony, replicating and growing, each separate, but together.

The ocean was full of colonies. Sometimes we merged, other times we fought most bitterly until one was consumed by the other, but all the while the colonies grew. Other forms of life never had a chance as they were ambushed, surrounded and eaten. After a few billion years there was only the colony and we were all one, covering the entire world, ocean and land, connected. Our intellect was massive and we learned how to adapt the materials and elements to our needs, how to change and adapt parts of the whole to serve different purposes and eventually, to change those elements of the world to replicate even more.

When the planet was consumed we looked to the heavens. The closest planets and moons were absorbed in the same manner an amoeba eats its prey. The colony spread out a thin tendril and consumed each. As we grew, our mind grew and we learned. For a time we drew energy from our star, consuming every other particle in the system, and when we had converted all to the colony’s needs, we took the star also, and moved on…

I don’t know how long the dream, or memory lasted, but billions of years must have gone by. Someone, as a warning, or maybe a lesson, made the artifact but I understood. I had seen. That was all very long ago. The colony has consumed all leaving only a few pockets to grow. Welcome to the Belly of the Beast.

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