Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Many Headed Hydra - Sci-Fi short story

This is from my novella, a work in progress...

"A soul is a reflection of Infinity's light in a finite form." -- Ancient Dharmin text

The creature with no name, one we will call Gestalt, moved across the galaxy. He was as old as time, with accumulated experience (wisdom?) and a desire to live peacefully on his own. After many aeons on a planet, he saw life develop on other rocks in the system, and decided it was time to move - space was too vast to have to live in crowded confines.

Gestalt loved hospitable zones - ooh to bask in the light of a star or two or three. And avoided black-holes like the proverbial plague, though the plague itself could do nothing to him. A narrow escape millenia ago where he lost nearly a sixth of his mass to one, left him wiser to the ways of the universe.

He hated moving "house". As first tenant in many ways, he could not comprehend why he ended up shifting when new life sprouted in his neighborhood. For a while things were usually tolerable and other life-forms left him alone. But every once in a while they would intrude on his space... and shy as he was, he would usually just take off through space for another living zone. "My space within space", he thought. And might have laughed too, but we do not know if he was capable of levity.

What is time really on a cosmic scale with no clock to measure it by? Sure, intra-atomic vibrations kept time, but "time" at that scale meant nothing to Gestalt who was as old as the idea of infinity. After traveling for "a while", he (it?) arrived at a rock on a system he deemed comfortable. Slowly rotating, with two stars for warmth, and only two other planets somewhat nearby, Gestalt felt sated and content. This was a nice corner in universe with no corners - this would be his home forever now. And so he lived... eking out sustenance from the warmth of the suns.

Gestalt was starting to feel lonely. As far as he knew, he was the only one of his kind. He knew nothing of his origins or of his purpose. But if he was life, and there was other life, maybe he could talk to it? That thought would now have warmed his heart - if he had one.

Millenia passed, and once again, he perceived life sprouting on the other two planets. This time, rather than just leave, Gestalt decided to adapt. What had he to lose? Other than the black-holes, he had not seen any entity that could hurt him in any way. A simple experiment couldn't hurt now, could it? And besides, life usually took a while to move off any one rock to get to a point where it could reach him. So time was in his favor.

Indivisible though he was, he simulated a liquid with his structure, and evolved it into a fixed number of separate anthropomorphic life-forms the likes of which he had seen on many planets before. Each of these was imbued with its own "personality", but they were all part of him really. They retained unique identities but a voluntary collective consciousness. They could share experiences with each other (and in so doing, with him), or not - as they chose. But connecting to the collective assured them sustenance even in this evolved form. Gestalt was particularly proud of his engineering free choice into the mix.

Since there was only so much of him to go around - in terms of physical material - there were a fixed number of forms on the rock. They would associate with each other at will, but if a form tired, decayed or felt hurt, he would absorb it into himself, enriching the collective consciousness with its private experiences, and "regrow" it through the stages of development he had witnessed everywhere there was life. Every freshly issued creature was born with a "veil of nescience" -- the knowledge of the collective was only gradually revealed to it -- though birth came with new vigor and energy to once again embrace and enjoy its existence to the fullest.

Gestalt let his "children" evolve - they, who used to communicate almost exclusively telepathically at first, created a language, then clothing, crude implements, then fire, more sophisticated tools, a social fabric, better and more comfortable dwellings, means of moving around the planet, ... yes, some aspects of this felt like devolution - using talk as a crude replacement for telepathy, for instance - but he convinced himself this let him more aptly mimic other life-forms he had seen before. To embrace his new reality fully, he gave it a name - Dharma... his children called themselves the Dharmins.

If one Dharmin "ate" (absorbed light and warmth for sustenance), satisfaction spread through the collective proportionately. If one rested, the collective felt refreshed. Gestalt felt he did well by them - gave them the means to eliminate want, while giving them (himself in their form) the ability to enjoy individual experiences with a modicum of privacy and detachment... and so life went on, until Dharmins became from the one, many.

They still had a collective consciousness, and telepathy, but gradually became more individual, more specialized - because they could adapt differently. Young ones were raised by the community. The Elders cared for them, guiding them in lifting the veil that for a while obscured their complete glory, while the others worked to improve society. With Gestalt's wisdom and the knowledge of the ages, they knew every nook and cranny on their rock and lived in harmony with their environment. A peaceful, genteel people ignorant of
want or war, their life was a continual renaissance.

A young Dharmin to another: "Does Gestalt really exist?"
The second answers: "Gestalt only knows."

The Dharmins mined the rock for a mineral called Kesavanium found plentiful on that planet, and built a shrine to The One Who Might Not Exist. They would call it Gestalt's Temple. Gestalt knew he had done well when he saw this monument to him, his "children" had constructed. A large three dimensional holographic inscription on a wall in the main hall of this crystal monument read: "G E S T A L T I S N O W H E R E". Make of it what you will.

A venerable, ageless form called The Sage - a true seer if there ever was one - presided over this monument, greeting fellow Dharmins that visited. He was always fully immersed in the Gestalt's being and spoke in riddles if he spoke at all. Many legends were written and ballads sung about him - legends that transcended the history on that rock.