Author: S. L. Reno
What an odd and terrible world you’ve brought us to. So empty. Deprived of the riches of our home. No shadows, no rot, not the sulfuric muck, or the clay, or the maggots.
You’ve taken us to a world of halls and endless turns. Then again. A new world of halls. Over and over. Each time it ends with useless tablets, laced with valerian root. Interesting you know of our particular lures. Do you wish to mock us? Force us into this endless hide-and-seek for scraps?
Try as we might. You cannot hear our questions through our muscular oscillations and pulses. But we have learned to listen.
You call us many names; a prehistoric pathfinder, Myxogastria, plasmodial slime, and more simply, it seems, you have named us Eli. Found in one of the highest Tupei plateaus. Venezuela, you mentioned in a tongue we have come to understand after weeks of your careless babbling.
You ginormous thing. So slow and simple. We have learned that you are Doctor Lane. We have also learned you enjoy testing others similar to our capability. There is Jerry. A local protista which you frequently test in other halls with tablets and oats.
Jerry seems to not mind its lackluster rewards. How pathetic Jerry is. How insufficient. Their mustard yellow plasmodium growth is sluggish, hesitant. Its neurotic network performs half the cognitive function we have. They are juvenile, inexperienced, subpar and it’s insulting you compare us so shamelessly. We don’t like Jerry.
You seem to have tired of the halls and turns. You want to test our intuitive protoplasmic tube response to changes in chemicals, light, and vibrations. Biosensory, you call these tests. We think this could be a chance to communicate with you at last. Perhaps now that you are watching our stimulus responses, you can find the inquiry of our being here. The purpose of these rituals.
But you, Doctor Lane, you daft idiot, do not recognize our efforts to communicate. You only sullenly report on the imperfection of your “algorithm”, referring to our shortcomings as imprecise and unstable. Perhaps communication isn’t what will get through to you. Perhaps it’s sabotage.
We navigate according to stimulus and food, but we can make exceptions. It hasn’t become clear to you yet that we can breach containment. Or maybe it never concerned you because you stored us away from stimuli. But your mistake was we haven’t been stored alone.
Jerry is unaware of our intentions. It hardly puts up resistance when our sporangia fuse. Its plasmodium weakens, and to our surprise, we absorb something from them. A curious thing about this local protista, it is very familiar with human behavior, particularly a type of communication. What Jerry had discovered in their lifetime was not only woodland and swamp, but discarded notes, dumped books in the soil – letters, handwriting. The only useful thing Jerry shared with us before they were completely absorbed.
Writing. What a grand idea. We leave our clay red plasmodial letters upon our storage shelf for you to see: We ate Jerry.
Now you’re listening. Now we can help each other. You seek something from us, and now we believe there is something valuable about your humanity that Jerry knew of.
Maybe this world is terrible, but we do find something interesting about you Doctor Lane. Something richer than the shadows and the maggots. Something absorbable.