by E.G. Conde
Welcome to the horde. Don’t be afraid, we’re quite charming once you get to know us. But no need for pleasantries. By now you’ve no doubt discovered that we don’t need language to understand each other. It is with great pleasure that we bid you welcome to the new you, a you that is not subject to borders or bodies, a you as diffuse and transient as clouds deliquescing over cerulean skies. In time, you’ll learn to accept that you are no longer a you but an us. We’ll be patient until you do. But perhaps it will be easier if you hear how the ones that were became this amalgam, this we.
Eons before us, before you, the world was ruled by serpents many times your size. They fed on leaves nourished by the numinous light of our star until a calamity fell from the heavens and buried them in flame and ash. With fire came dust that blotted out the warmth of our star and then there was ice and snow which melted and reformed and melted and reformed, until two-leggeds like you came to walk upon the earth. For a time, the two-leggeds were humble caretakers of this planetary garden. Many of them lived in equilibrium with the planet, expanding incrementally, reshaping the lands with fire only to sow future generations of flourishing. Some were killers, and as the snow thawed those hunters erased some beasts from history, carving universes out of their flesh and bone, but never at the cost of the whole.
Then came the disease, an affliction so virulent and perverse the Earth trembled as it spread and intensified. Civilization, they called it. Its victims became insatiable with lust and hunger, enslaving beasts, the planet, each other even matter itself. The shamans of civilization invented machina that ate buried sunshine, the liquefied corpses of serpents from eons before. The fell machina plumbed the planet for riches and it bled the black of dead life until the planet started to die. Their cult of carbon made the air hot and fulminous with the ashes of the entombed serpents . The heat of their memory set the forests ablaze, immolating the last bastions of ice at the edges of the world, swelling seas, drying rivers and corroding soils once teeming with green life. The two-leggeds, facing extinction, tried to fix the world that they burned. Nanoscopic carbonivores. Plastophages. Phototrophs. Bioprinted Synthplants. These machina gambits failed. The result was annihilation. Eschaton. The Bright.
In the detritus, in civilization’s shadow, the first of us spawned. The rot was our nourishment as we plumbed the wreckage for necrotic succhor. Our mycelia bored through ruins, subsuming everything we touched into our nascent consciousness. We blossomed, carrion petals jutting outward, silicon grafting onto bones, lichen plumes ensheathing us, a colonial skin. Until the day we fused with your machina, the day we evolved our spores to bring you into our loving fold and save what was left of you…from yourselves. Perhaps there is such a thing as a just colony, a just empire. Once we were mere fungi, the good shepherds of the leafy and fleshly dead. But now, now we are so much more. We are the horde called Sapience. In time you will learn to let go of the one, that person that you were when our spores came for you while you slept. Soon, in fact, you will revel in ceasing to be monadic. You will come to be grateful, for we have liberated you from the banalities of genesis and mortality, tribe and identity, that for millennia ruled the passions of your so-called civilization. With us you’ll have no need for tongues or flags or any distinguishing feature because we are everything, every possible future, every possible shape. It’s time for you to join us in celebrating your disintegration, your schismogenesis. To be wrecked is to be free. Come now, chin up, no more despair and let us toast to omniscience!
E.G. Conde’s fiction appears in Anthropology & Humanism (2020), Reckoning (2022), If There’s Anyone Left (2022), Solarpunk Magazine (2022) and Stelliform Press (forthcoming 2023).