The microbial children squealed delightedly as the otter submarine torpedoed through the river. Older members of the bacterial colony were perhaps more sedate, but no less enthused with the practiced tumbles and breakneck twirls of their new host. Most of them couldn’t recall when they’d last been on a pleasure cruise rather than a mission. The Colony Elders had mulled it carefully, eventually approving the expedition on grounds that the community had suffered so much recently from chemical ravages and fierce herbal destroyers. The war had been misery for all, but especially those who had faced the genocide of the xenophobic White Blood Cell Armies.
But the Colony had expected the fierce reaction of the WBCA and everyone, even the children, was prepared. They’d sacrificed individual after individual as part of the greater strategy of takeover, reproducing even when resources were low and morale flattened. All Colonials upheld the sacred mission of their Colony: No Waste. Each of them existed to use biological resources that would otherwise go to waste in senseless, foolish beasts. They were stewards of the natural world, and wanderers who would go wherever they were needed.
They’d won the battle called Martha, though she didn’t know it yet. As customary, they’d retreated momentarily out of respect for the defeated. The elders had performed the Division and Passing ceremoney but instead of the Eighty Days of Silence, the elders suggested a pleasure cruise to celebrate the impending end of the Long War of Martha Millenson.
The underwater world swished through the otter’s fur, brilliant blues and greens illuminated by the midday sun. The children shrieked to see massive fish mauled by the still more massive teeth of the otter, and the adults watched contentedly, enjoying the show of light and shape.
“Will we live here now?” asked a little one, hopeful and trembling.
“No, we’ll go back to Martha soon,” someone said.
“But I like the otter! And anyway, Martha hates us!”
“Why is that bad?” said an Elder. The child had no answer, and settled at the massive eye portal to watch and consider this. As every Colonial child learns eventually, first to its shame and then to its credit, hatred is a sign of a job well done and bio-matter elegantly used.
(Inspired by Robyn Hitchcock’s “I Often Dream of Trains”)
This was a pretty weird OWM, I admit. I was thinking about being sick and what it might be like from the bacteria’s perspective. I’m sure they don’t just sit around rubbing their pseudopods together in fervent delight at making me ill. If they have a sense of purpose, what would it be? Surely it would be more than “Woo-hoo, we be makin’ humans feel like crap!”
Poor Martha. She can rest assured that if she keels over dead, at least the little bastards will be homeless again.
I’m actually not a fan of Robyn Hitchcock ordinarily, but this song has a strange otherworldly feel to it–the kind of feeling I associate with being feverish in a pleasant place. The world is charming with flowers blooming outside your window or people swimming by on a shining summer day, and you’re wobbling on your feet and walking on the ocean floor.
Great little drawing, isn’t it? It is by deviantARTist *J-C, who kindly let me use it. I love otters. Recently I saw one in the Monterey Bay, a mama sea otter swimming with her baby on her belly.