What got me out of bed and into the booth each morning was the thrill of monitoring ceremonies in the Grand Hall; as a rookie, I’d made the mistake of believing those facing away from the masses were the ones to look out for- I’d zoom in on them and make a concerted effort to track the next 5, 10, 20 years of their lives, although it would prove futile; mulling over milestones in their later years, I returned to the Grand Hall footage where with the fortune of hindsight, I drew a correlation between swimming upstream in old age and free flowing movement at graduation; squint and scan the crowd and you’ll see a distinct yellow aura marking them out, all facing the same direction.
The next phase was tracing their descendants and handing over the dossier to Dr Woodrow, chief geneticist at Project Anadromous, a clandestine government initiative that led to the design of biological prêt-à-porter: subcutaneous cloaks fashioned to enable adaptability for a return to the so-called fresh waters of the wearer’s youth, to breed and die, maintaining population equilibrium- a profitable ‘industry’ that did away with nasty taxes, handout recipients, and threats of litigation- therein the fun stopped, gone were my days of naïve people watching, I became the watched.
Now, trapped by the consequences of my actions, I am stuck in a for-loop, endless iterations of life cycles that never deviate from the tedium of days begun in the murky gravel beds of oxygen limited fresh water, graduating to the stinging spray of brine that stretches to the horizon before I make a begrudging return to natal waters, a sacrificial offering for the next generation, treading softly on finite resources while amassing fortunes for the 0.1 percent who’ve had the fiscal and hence genetic fortune of defying the run.
Woodrow was showing visiting professors around the facility. They were eager to learn all they could, in the quest to increase production of SaltyNectar®, the much sought after finite resource.
Pointing to the subject, Woodrow began to explain his findings:
“EL-AINEDOB150816 is responding well to memory convergence. Synapses effectively returning to previous points of extension, resuming plasticity. Connections have been observed, with neurons firing in response to simulated seasons visible through the ‘window’. Relics have also been left in the mock bedroom, including a basket full of sentimental assortments, such as printed images of people known to the subject, and the shell of a nautilus, held dear to her, according to her file notes, as a treasured memento from her childhood that it is likely to conjure memories- a conjuring nautilus.
“Conjuring nautilus” he repeated. Woodrow liked the sound of these words. He was one of the rare re-births who had the ability to program himself to register small pleasures, in this case resulting in a curious upturn of his lips and crinkles at the corners of his eyes.
One by one, they filed in. Azure dust coating their usual sheen, and joints creaking from the unforgiving strain of extra duties since our unscheduled landing. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a spray of WD-40®, but it’s the corrosive atmosphere that’ll likely be the undoing of the entire fleet; just now when we need them most to get out of this hell hole and return to earth.
A gust of wind against sheathed blades of wheat conducted an orchestra of swooshes and scratches, accompanied by booms of pollen grains crashing as they set sail to germinate or wreak havoc with hay-feverish humans. Like listening to a drum beat from within its hide and metal enclosure, my senses were overstimulated, sound compounded by sight and smell, with the distinct musk of earth and vivid shades of greens, browns and blues swathing field and sky, cognition that made me certain I was me.
SWOOSH, SCRATCH, BOOM, the blades continued to sway. When the tip of one folded back on itself, a lifetime of recognition and knowing came to me. My consciousness had transmigrated.
I was Wheat Leaf.
I held on to my conviction of the worthiness of my sacrifice, to rescue humanity via doses of glutinous products fortified with cognizance, but I had no idea I’d feel and know. As the imposing harvester cut its destructive path on approach, I felt a terror I’d not known in my previous incarnation. It was then I understood the movement of the other blades for what they were, and joined in their screams, a vain attempt to alter our collective fate.
It had to be timed perfectly; the final breath of a soul feeder coinciding with the first light of day. Accelerated transmission of human collective consciousness via wheat fields, using the sun’s rays as a carrier, letting photosynthesis do the rest. Dr Woodrow believed in his technique and the benefits to what remained of the human race, and so had no qualms being among the first of three to go, each lying in their tents till curtain call.
A range of inspirations here for what will be a multi-part story- in part from watching A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week Twenty Sixwhich provides the intriguing photograph, and Jane Dougherty’s latest microfiction challenge, but that will be a separate post. Woodrowhas featured in a couple of my stories previously and makes a welcome return here as my sci-fi muse.
It’s Week 9! The penultimate trip in this series! I’ll have to line up the series reunion tour soon, and re-post each one*.
When I began this blog, I was on maternity leave and needed a space carved out in my life for something that was creative (outside of the little bundle I had a part in creating) and just mine. I decided to do a 30-day writing challenge and stuck to it for the most part, with the exception of about a one week break due to an unexpected calamity at around the twenty-something day mark. On most days, I’d find a prompt in the morning, then ponder on it over the course of the day while breastfeeding, cooking, changing nappies, cleaning etc, allowing the seeds to germinate in my unconscious mind. Then I’d seize moments when my baby slept, and write, sometimes at awkward angles if he was asleep in my arms. Discovering the world through motherhood and exploring my writing through the blogging world made me feel like I was truly living the dream. Well, there was not much time for any other kind of dreaming through those sleep deprived days!
This week’s journey takes us to day seven of that 30-day challenge, by which time I’d warmed up, getting some dud posts out of the way. On day seven, I chanced upon Steven Savage’s incredible random prompt generator that took me where I had never gone with a story- into the realms of Science Fiction! As a result, Dr Stephen Woodrow entered my world- eminent scientist working within the system to subvert it for the greater good. Dr Woodrow went on to feature in another more recent story, set in a different place and time, but with the same rebellious spirit. If you follow the prompt generator link, you’ll notice it also features a fusion food generator- proceed at your own risk! Oyster banana dumpling anyone? On the other hand, curried tomato chickpea on chips doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
Light up your bunsen burner, and click on the image to be transported through the tumbleweed. Beware of flammables and shady characters!
If you want to read other posts in the series, you can find them under menu item ‘travel through the tumbleweed.’