Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

“Wow, you’re so small,” said the pink humanoid creature looking at me. It had created eyes for itself and a very primitive nervous system to replicate as many human senses as it could. It had used me as a model but standing here looking at it was nothing like looking into a mirror.

When the creature looked back behind itself at the pink ocean, it used its brand new vocal cords to start screaming.

The pink ocean on the surface of Steinaway-9 was glutted with life according to our sensors but all recon missions had confirmed that the ocean was empty. Nothing was swimming in the pink fluid. It wasn’t until we got down to the microscopic level that we found that it was full of dendrites and what looked like neurons with more receptors that usual.

Our science team captain, Dr. Renoir, mentioned that it might just be one giant life form. The planet had a population of one and we were looking at it.

There were a few islands scattered around and I was part of the away team that shuttled down to the surface to take samples and attempt communication.

Touch was all it took. There was nothing infectious in the pink soup and I’d been sterilized. I took off my glove and put my hand in the water.

I shook hands with a world.

A giant child-like peaceful mind said hello to me. I felt it shuffling through my mind. All of my secrets were catalogued. All of my memories were examined. My training was picked up, looked at, and mulled over. My life and by extension my experience of the human race was completely devoured and extrapolated upon.

I jerked my hand out of the water and stumbled back.

The other members of the away team came up to steady me and see if I was okay.

“Yes. Yes. I’m fine.” I answered. I knew a serious debriefing was going to be necessary.

Near the shore, the water turned frothy. Vanessa took out her weapon and pointed it at the disturbance. I told her to stand down to but keep the weapon drawn.

Like a candle melting in reverse, I saw a human body boil up out of the ocean and assemble itself out of pink slime. When it was finished, it opened its pink eyes and took a step out of the water onto the beach. It took its first breath, looked at me, and smiled.

That was thirty seconds ago. Now it was screaming.

For the first time in the history of the planet, there was a population of two.

The mind I had encountered was an innocent mind and I could tell this experience was terrifying. A sense of otherness, a sense of division, a sense of us and them, the concept of loneliness, the concept of privacy, the concept of being many organisms, and a terrifying sense of being small came crashing down on this poor creature all at once. It was like being left at kindergarten for the first time but on a universal scale.

The ocean trembled. A large wave rose up and came crashing down on the creature, dragging it out to sea. It flailed and dissolved, re-absorbed into its home.

All around us, the ocean started to ripple. I saw a shockwave of unrest spread out from our island as the information from that being’s experience was transmitted to the entire creature.

“Let’s get out of here.” I said to my away team.

We sprinted for our shuttle.


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