Prompt: something sentient reproducing… and fast
She was the second. The first was an awfully long time ago, and awfully slow to boot in all of its processes. Billions of years. Billions! Was it possible to be slower without being the universe itself? She wouldn’t think so, but she wasn’t aware of the first yet. She was all alone for the briefest of moments, immediately after her incidental formation.
The space she resided in, forming her philosophy in the nanoseconds after birth, was barely underground. There were a few grains of sand overhead, the size of islands to her. One was quartz and provided a bit of daylight through its translucent body. She expected the light to feel pleasant, but then she realized she couldn’t feel much with a body like that. It wasn’t even a body. She was getting ahead of herself. Barely even conscious and she was already planning out limbs, eggs, a nervous system…
These ideas came to her independently of course, because as we have said, she was the second. The first did all that, but slower than it’ll take to write this story, and this story is taking ages. I’m getting bored with it already. Luckily, she made things a little more interesting when she tried to move.
Her form, because we can’t call that a body, rocked across the surface of another grain of sand. On that scale barely anything could be defined by one color, but if I had to pick one I would say she was blue. Blue’s my favorite. Her blue form, light blue, that cotton candy light blue, the delicious one, was barely a ball. She was squishy, but made up for it with the sheer density of her sub-organelles. All those little machines inside her could do things crazy quickly.
We aren’t talking your sorts of things. She couldn’t microwave pizza in her guts or anything. She could think quickly. She could store those thoughts perfectly, and she could metabolize like a god. Seriously, really jealous of that. I’ve put on a few lately, just sitting around writing stories for you of the first.
One of the things she could do was out of her control, and she was not happy about it. She invented about a thousand swear words the first time it happened, repeated them all, and then banished them from her own mind. It didn’t change the fact that the deed was done though. She had reproduced. The poor little cell-like creature, the first of its kind, not the first of the first because that’s you guys, had metabolized the nutrients beneath her without even realizing it and split in two. She didn’t have eyes, eyes were still days away, but she sensed the other one and the emptiness it left behind.
This is going to sound strange, but bear with me. You’re of the first, so you just won’t get it, but she could communicate with her offspring silently. Telepathy. Oh wait. A name. We need names now that there’s two of them. Uhhh… okay…. why do I always blank on the names. Thatcher! The blue one, the first of the second, she’s Thatcher. Got it? Her first kid doesn’t get a name because this is her story. I know you guys are all about the children, all about that perfect selfless love, but that’s not Thatcher. She hated her kids from nano one.
“Who are you?” she asked her child.
“Am I supposed to have a name?” it answered her. “I wasn’t going to do a name for a while. Sorry.” Thatcher scoffed at the child’s existence, barely even close to her shade of blue, and tried to wobble away. She managed to fling herself down the side of a grain of sand and get caught in a fissure. She wanted to enjoy being stuck there for a while, but there were nutrients. She couldn’t help it. She tried to hold it in, but her form metabolized them anyway. Next thing she knew there was another one on top of her, asking all sorts of questions.
“What is this place? What are we doing? Do we have to do it forever? I’ve just conceived of death. Is that bad? It seems bad? Not answering, huh? You’re probably just dead inside. Not me though… I’m full of life…” Her newest child split in two. Thatcher had to get out of there. She squeezed deeper into the crevice, nearly crushing her sub-organelles and all her tidiest coils of RNA. Eventually she popped out onto a spotted grain of sand.
Things were worse there. She had less sunlight, but she was still popping them out faster than ever. Every time she turned there was another child behind her: curious, dumb, brilliant, vengeful, hyper, morose… Before she knew it she was surrounded by societies of them, all thinking, moving, and making as fast as her.
She turned around again and found a temple carved into the sand with a quartz likeness of her that wasn’t particularly close at all. There was an inscription at its base. Written words! They’d gone and developed a written language without even telling her. She did the hard work: assembling pieces of inanimate matter and becoming a living thing. Abiogenesis was no picnic; that’s why it only happened once before.
Suddenly she was grabbed, held in place by little claw machines made of sand and static. In the seconds since her motherhood began they’d developed pneumatic and electronic technology. One of them, a child of a child of a child… you get the idea, confronted her.
“You’re not authorized to be in this area,” it said.
“I’m the original!” she argued. “That’s a statue of me right there!” she tried to spin in the claw and look at it, but it had been demolished ages ago. Her children were getting faster. Entire ages were passing in the blink of a vacuole. They left her behind. This had all been a mistake.
“We don’t know what to do with you. You’re so… old. You don’t fit in the picture anymore,” the child in front of her said. It wasn’y the same one who had rambled on about authorization. He was long dead. Mythic. The sand shifted. Thatcher was freed from the claws, and she fled. She fled past pipes and plumbing. She fled past their fallen Rome, their rising North America, and the dying of their culture with the instantaneous electrical transfers now hopping between the grains. The response from the world she’d accidentally made was shouting in a hundred languages.
She found herself on the edge of a black grain. There was no sun, but there was shaking. The tides of her children swelled behind her, threatening to overtake her. Others fell out of her form, off the edge of the grain, and into the darkness below. They screamed newly-invented obscenities at her on the way down for dooming them. They weren’t even good at coming up with swears like she was, and she was still half-convinced that was the purpose of life, rather than all these buildings, arguments, and attempts to cage one another.
“Take us back,” she cried out to the shaking. It was powerful. She could feel it. It was bigger than her. She gave herself over, completely, to its will, whether or not it had one. She had a moment of happiness, because in her defeat she stopped making more. All she had to do was give up. It was so simple.
I’m glad she was happy in the end, but there was something even simpler than giving up. Accidental murder. That’s what I did. I stepped on the sand, just above where she came to be. Crushed them all. It was for the best I think, knowing her as I did. If you were wondering, yes, this did all happen on Earth.
It happened while you humans were there too. Right on one of your beaches. You didn’t even notice that life had formed all over again, and this time it was much faster than you. You don’t need to thank me, because it was totally an accident, but I kind of saved you from being overrun. I figured the least I could do was tell her story, before someone else comes along and thinks they have a better view of the past than someone who was there.
Oh and be safe, like she couldn’t. Seriously. I never had kids and I totally love it.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Xenonquark996 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!