by Nicholas Byrley

Self existed for many years. It was aware, and yet also unaware. In many ways Self simply was. It did not have a problem with that. Things had always been that way, so they would always stay that way. However, Self became aware of some oddities in time. It noticed something beyond Self, things. It was wrapped around this thing, a hard lump. At first, Self thought it perhaps it was part of Self, just a part it could not feel.

This answer satisfied it for many more years, until a similar lump fell from above Self and struck It. Self knew pain, and knew confusion. But from this lesson it realized the lump that struck it was the same as the lump Self was on. Therefore, it must be something not of Self. All things then were not actually Self. If this was the case, then there must be Others. Self knew loneliness.

It passed the intervening years after the lump fell from the sky experimenting with It’s boundaries. Self knew the breadth of its domain, and could shape portions or even all of itself differently on the lump it occupied. Self trained it’s senses on the above, watching for more lumps, watching for the Others. Self knew that if it was, then the Others must be as well.

They might even be smarter than Self, more knowledgeable. They could answer many questions Self was beginning to have.

Self waited a long time, eons passing as the above shifted in its endless cycles. More lumps came in time, some slightly different from the first one but all just more lumps. Self added them to the pile it had made, not sure what else to do with them. Finally the day came that a lump unlike other lumps came. It was buzzing, vibrating, and whirring. It came down not hard, but softly.

It was different from the others, special somehow. Self examined it carefully, years of thoroughly checking the lumps from above lending it expertise in the survey. This lump was hollow, and full of gasses. Self put pressure on the lump, it bent inward easily. The buzzing and vibrating increased when It did that, and It was surprised.

It responded to Self’s actions and seemed almost to be watching It. This lump was not a lump at all, but an Other. Self knew joy.

It was no longer alone. It had many questions for this strange tiny Other, but knew not how to ask it. Since it had responded when Self applied pressure, It tried that again. This time it persisted longer and was happy to see the buzzing and noises increase dramatically.

But something happened, the Other gave a loud pop and then suddenly broke apart. The pressure was too much. Self tried to gather the myriad parts and pieces of the other back together, but no matter what way It arranged them, the Other would communicate no longer. The Other was no more. Self knew sadness.

It placed the Other on the the lumps it had previously collected, hoping to attract more. It would be different next time Self decided, It knew the limits of the Other now. It would just take more time, and then It could find out all it wanted to know….

***CNS “Landfall” Log: The shuttle we sent down to Gliese 581c to examine the planet has not returned. An alien mass we first mistook as an ocean that seems to stretch across the entire surface of the world swallowed, and then crushed our vessel. I grieve for the loss of our men and women who volunteered to search for a new home there. There is an attitude among the crew that we should sterilize this world, but I see no need. It holds no intelligence, no malice. It is another mindless organism amongst many we have found, and it would be a waste. I will settle instead on simply marking the star charts and sending this information back to Earth, so that none shall make the mistake of landing on this world again.

-Captain Brock Grunweld of the Colonization Navy Ship “Landfall” ***

Watching my lava lamp made me thing of primordial ooze and this is the result. Interestingly, this is another case where the image found afterwards fits the story. Although I had originally gone with Gliese 667Cc as the planet, searching for Gliese afterwards found this rendition of Gliese 581c I knew I had to use. Let me know what you think.