Asteroid Rake – Chapter 9

I had been a “guest” on The Asclepius for a week before the voices started.  Well, not voices, exactly, but thoughts that weren’t my own…thoughts that demanded an answer.  These thoughts weren’t in English, but were somehow more…profound…more basic.  I understood the thoughts more clearly, somehow, than I would have ever understood words.  To explain these thoughts, I have to use words, but even more so than changing things from one language to another, much is not conveyed in my translation.

why are you here?

I am being held here, because I might be contaminated with an alien organism

and why do you say contaminated?

It is an organism that consumes all available oxygen, and when they multiply enough, they act as a single being that becomes more and more intelligent as it grows…even to the point of sentience…maybe beyond.

is sentience malevolent?

It was at the point that this thought came into my mind that I knew…I am contaminated.  Somehow, the Exo-0001 organism is residing within me, and speaking to me directly.  Perhaps telepathically, perhaps they have managed to tap into my brain directly.  I don’t know.

I couldn’t answer the thought immediately.  How do I explain to the alien being that, no, sentience isn’t necessarily malevolent…but it can be, and I fear this being.  If it gets to earth, I believe it will destroy all life by consuming our oxygen.  Even now, I wonder how long I have.  If this being is inside me, they are consuming the oxygen that I am inhaling.

Even in my silence, though, they have understood my thoughts enough to have received their answer.

why do you fear us?  Are you not still alive?

But for how long?  Will you not consume all of my oxygen until I suffocate?

were you always the size that you are now?

What?

were you always the size that you are now?

No.  When I was born, I was quite tiny.

I fear that I will have to explain “born” to them, but they delve deeper into my thoughts and memories.  They understand.

how did you grow to the size you are now?

By eating, I suppose

will you continue growing forever?

No.  I stopped growing quite some time ago.  I still need to eat, though.

do you eat more now than you did as a baby?

Yes.

do you eat more and more with each passing year?

No.

what make you think that we will continue to grow indefinitely?  Do you not think that we could expand our colony to just an optimal size, and then divide only in order to maintain our size, like the division of cells within your own body?

Apparently, they have been using my memories as a library.  How else would they know about human growth, and cell division?

let us go to your ship and we will show you something.  We can promise not to consume all your oxygen.  In fact, we can promise you an unlimited supply of oxygen.  This journey will take some time.

But my ship has been impounded, and besides, I am a prisoner here, and likely will be until I get completely lost in the system.

your ship has not yet been taken, and we can help you to escape.

I don’t yet know if I should trust my guest.  My fellow humans, though, have not shown me any reason to expect to be free again.  The Exo-0001, at least, is giving me some sort of hope…even if false hope.

~~

Chapter 9 of Asteroid Rake is written in response to the prompt: “lost in the system” over at the Inspiration Monday website.

 

 

 

 

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