Author : Catori Sarmiento

It will only grow bigger. The abdominal bloating that began as a minuscule bump is gradually becoming more obvious. He placed a hand on the swollen mass, now full enough to cup in his palm, as a quiet anxiety pulses from the source to the base of his heart. A decision must be made, but he need not make it, not yet. There is still time.

The spires are natural, emerging from the earth, at first slowly and then increasingly as the decades passed. Once, the multitudes so feared them that hundreds were destroyed, but they inevitably returned, forcing eventual acceptance of their existence. Some radicals still resist the compelling urge through will or fear. He, like most, cannot. All are all drawn to them by pheromones that emit from spores akin to dust. At night, the spores are luminescent, beautiful, and it is in those dark hours where most sit or lie beneath the base of a spire to watch the particles fall like colorful snowflakes. More invigorating than the visual spectacle is the sustained euphoria.

A handful of weeks before, he had gone to the spire for his weekly routine. The spire itself was contained within a white opaque tower in order to keep the spores isolated from non-consenting bystanders. To gain entrance, he showed his age identification cards to the door guard and were led inside. After passing through a short hallway, there was spire itself. A grand bioluminescent object that he thought looked like a thin mushroom stem with a wide cap where underneath came the descending spores, drifting leisurely, almost unmoving, towards the ground. He lay amongst others as the comfortable relaxation enveloped their bodies, gradually growing to a steady stream of ecstasy.

Later came the unmistakable symptoms of implantation. He knew the warnings, had seen the pictures of its progression, listened to required lectures from health educators. It was never far from any man’s mind. It was why he took precautions. A simple inoculation every three months and the risks were negated. Even that was not flawless, it seemed.

He touches his other hand to the smooth side of his stomach where it is slightly cooler, comparing it to the warmer sensation that emanates from the bump. What gestates inside causes dizziness from the spores integrating into his blood and a constant nausea that signals the beginning of his changing physiology. Removal is a compelling choice, and yet, so is preservation. It will become life. Eventually, the obstruction will grow to a certain size and detach. Inside will be a newborn, little more than a clone of the host.