Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Microstory 887: Surge

After the bioweapon that caused sudden onset intracranial pressure, the world was never the same. The war was so devastating that that the planet was no longer suitable for life. It technically could continue to support life, but only via small pockets of untouched nature. If we wanted to truly rebuild civilization, we were going to have to do it somewhere else. A private organization had been working for years on a sleeper ship capable to transporting thousands of people to an extrasolar colony. All they needed now was a final destination, and a group of passengers to get there. All were welcome, though there wasn’t an infinite number of seats, so it was first come, first serve. I was one of the last people to show up, looking for tickets, and should have missed out, but I got lucky. I happened to be walking up the muddy road towards the facility next to a surgeon. I wasn’t with her at all. We even came from opposite directions, but we arrived at the same time. Evidently not enough medical professionals had come for the trip, and a certain number of seats had been set aside to accommodate them. I was about to bow out with grace, when she stopped me, and informed the men with guns that I was her surgical assistant, and that she couldn’t do her job without me. Fortunately, there were still a few stasis pods left, so I secured passage, but I owe my life to her. Who knows what happened to Earth after we left?

We didn’t spend the whole time in pods. They would wake up essential personnel on a regular basis in order to assess our mental acuity. The hibernation process never had time to be thoroughly tested, so it was imperative we be able to wake up safely. The surgeon spent her waking time teaching me everything I needed to know to do the job she had convinced the people on the ship that I already had. She was surprised to find out that I did have some medical experience, and had seen field medicine performed on a number of patients during the war. So I wasn’t starting from scratch, but that didn’t mean I could just jump into any medical emergency, and execute my job effectively. I soaked in all of my crash courses, confident that, by the time something bad happened, I would have learned enough to help. Centuries later, we arrived at our new home planet, having only aged maybe a year. We continued to live on the ship for the next couple months, though. A different team was sent off to survey the surface, and environmental factors, to make sure it would be safe. Our bodies evolved to deal with a lot of diseases on Earth, but if an alien visited and tried to walk amongst us, a bacterium we would take for granted could kill it instantly. The same goes for us, since we are the aliens here. If there were any issues with the air, or plant life, we needed to survive to help anyone affected by it, so we weren’t allowed to leave until such an incident. To my new boss’ surprise, there were no problems at all. Edibility tests, and other scientific assessments determined a bunch of plants and animals that were not safe to eat, and others that weren’t even safe to be around, but our services were never required. The other teams disembarked with a plan, and tons of safety protocols, and came out on the other side better for it.

When we finally were able to leave the ship, we found ourselves trekking towards camp in the middle of an abrupt thunderstorm. Our guide and protection detail assured us that the rain was perfectly harmless, but we still needed to find shelter, just like we would have back home. We found a nice little cave that was about twice as large as we needed to fit everyone. We huddled together for warmth, and tried to get some sleep. When we woke up the next morning, we found ourselves next to this human-sized pool of water that wasn’t there the night before. Strange sounds were coming from the water, as if something inside of it was moaning in pain. A slight electrical current was running through the edges, and it pulsated with positively beautiful lights. It was a mesmerizing experience, and hard to explain to anyone who wasn’t there to see it for themselves. One of the others in our group claimed he could feel that it was alive. The water itself was alive. None of us believed him, except for my boss. He said the sentient water was in pain, and that he could feel what it was feeling. My boss believed this as well, and decided to help in any way she could. She took out her bag of medical instruments, and started performing tests on the pool, hoping that one of them came back with useful information, even though we were reportedly dealing with an alien species. She worked on that thing all day, and I helped her as I could. Finally, using the modest amount of communication the one guy managed to do, we realized that the water was full of parasites that were swimming around, and stealing its nutrients. So we rigged up an extremely fine net, and started scooping them up, careful to let the water that came up with it drip back into the pool. After an hour, the job was done, and the water-entity supposedly thanked us with a few mathematically suspect ripples. Maybe it really was an alien, and this guy wasn’t just crazy. We never did find out for sure, though, because after that day, we never saw anything like that ever again.

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