Tag Archives: micron

The Mercy of Angels

The Microbial Cocoon

The three angels approached and encircled the humans in a slowly tightening ring. Tension radiated from James, probably his combat training shifting into gear. If there was a fight, was he in any shape to defend them? Joni doubted it, and knew for certain that she wasn’t – but it wasn’t a conflict she was worried about. Joni put her hand on his arm in a calming gesture.

They drifted in aquatic micro space miles above the submerged bottle. From within, points of light twinkled through unimaginably dense glass. Bioluminescence, Joni reasoned. If the city boasted light, maybe there was heat, and who knows what other unimaginable micro wonders. For the city to exist in this hostile environment was itself a wonder, and could only be explained because of the colony’s ideal location – inside the air pocket of the bottle, safe from invaders. Joni recalled that many species of freshwater microorganisms preferred to colonize similarly protected spaces. It seemed that the Microsians learned from the best.

The angels showed no sign of aggression – though who really knows what aggressive angels look like? – thought Joni. The creatures closed their ring around the pair. Pseudopodia grew, broadening and thickening – the limbs of one Microsian interweaving with those of the others, forming a watertight plait of eukaryotic membrane that enveloped Joni and Jas – a near perfectly spherical cocoon. The angel’s clusters of red photoreceptor eyes faced outward.

Inside the cocoon Joni felt the relative gravity increase as contractile vacuoles in the membrane pumped water out, while green organelles – chloroplasts – replaced the water with oxygen. In seconds, the inner space was dry. Joni touched the pressure point on her collar: her helmet evaporated with a soft pop. She took a breath. The cocoon’s air was sweet, richer than she was used to.

Jas filled his lungs. “Seems okay,” he intoned with an approving rumble. “Don’t breath too deeply, or you’ll hyperventilate.”

Joni pressed her hand against the wall of the cocoon, could feel the thrumming reverberation of cilia working in wave-like coordination, propelling them… somewhere. “They’re moving us,” Joni thought aloud. Although the Microsian cocoon had no windows, the shifting of watery light playing through translucent cell membranes confirmed movement.

Jas finished her thought: “To that bottle, and whatever is inside it.”

Again, the dark cloud of desperation threatened. Joni held it at bay by focusing on the present, on the now. She concentrated on breathing. Short breaths, spaced three seconds apart.

“Are you all right?” asked Jas.

Joni shook her head. “Kaya is gone,” she answered, and continued distantly. “Whatever life was before, no longer is. Our mission…the crew…me…you…all of it…gone.”

Jas did not offer any words – there were none. He put his arm around Joni, and not just for warmth. The only sound was the flittering butterfly humming of the ciliary membranes fanning the water, moving them toward the Microsian colony in the submerged bottle.


Sanctuary

The micro-scape was a watercolor blur of blue, green, and amber. There was no up or down. Joni closed her eyes, shutting off the dizzying vista and the vertigo that threatened to make her puke. She felt James’ arm pull her close, his right hand held firmly around her waist. She was spent, both physically and emotionally. He was now the only thing anchoring Joni, albeit tenuously, to time and space. Kaya was gone, her sweet soul and living brilliance extinguished in a moment of confusion and violence, and with them, Joni’s will to continue with the mission – with even the most rudimentary tasks of survival.

But survive they must, somehow…and do so without ship or crew, or the most basic shelter. Jas moved them forward, away from the aftermath of the battle, away from that unthinkable disaster that had pitted them against the strange indigenous sentients. The micro thrusters in his suit harnessed the water’s Brownian motion, directed excited molecules of H2O to move them deeper into the strange land of micro space.

Joni opened her eyes. Her pupils adjusted to the gloom. Ahead, in the distance she could see twinkling lights…and they came from inside a familiar shape, far away yet unimaginably huge. It was a bottle.

And then they where no longer alone. Figures appeared out of the micro haze…

First one, then a second, and finally a third of the aquatic seraphim materialized out of the watery gloom directly ahead. Each had wing-like membranes bound to gently waving cilia trailing from their pseudopodia, and down the ventral surface of head, neck, and torso. Joni wasn’t sure which was the greater revelation: that angels were real, or that angels were microorganisms.

Cytoplasm Will be Spilled This Day

Micro-nized humans find themselves in a Microsian war. Illustration by Eric R Russell

“Joni, stop!  Don’t do it!  They don’t understand!  No, Joni… NO!!!”

Before his eyes the disaster unfolded in slow-motion.  Jas Ford was too distant to stop her, too far away to intercept the sweeping arc of Joni’s scimitar.  Time crawled.  Jas watched in horror, unable to look away as Joni Janders pulled the blade along a deadly radius.

At the last instant the Scylex warrior spun to face the enraged human and met her scythe with a look of anger-turned-surprise.  The point easily separated membrane and cytoskeleton.  Ichor-like cytoplasm billowed from the horrible torso-length gash in amber clouds of liberated organelles.  The Microsian’s bisected nucleus spilled its milky trove of genetic code into the cold, dark water.

A microorganism is dead, but using those words didn’t diminish the moment – Jas Ford knew that he and his crew had just done what they had sworn not to do; they had taken a life for a life, and in doing so, brought calamity and horror to paradise.


Author’s note: Microscopic Monsters is now being featured on Best Science Fiction Blogs

The Generals Strategize

A Meeting of Microscopic Minds
Created with Adobe Creative Suite by Eric R Russell
Copyright 2019 Eric R Russell

Helmets came off.  Cilia relaxed.  Pseudopods morphed into arms and legs.  Joni Janders knew the Microsian… knew her well.  The paramecium-ride over from the colony had bonded them.  But the man in front of her, this James Ford… he was a mystery.  Suddenly her osmotic diving suit felt uncomfortably revealing.

Illuminating an Ancient Secret

The ship rocked beneath her feet.  A near-yet-muffled report of something striking the hull accompanied ship-wide alarms.

“What the hell is going out there?!” barked Captain Dylan Cobb from the command deck.

At his elbow, Joni Janders felt her jaw slacken… but it wasn’t the size of the paramecium that evoked dismay.  No, it was something else – someone else.  There, in the light of the ship’s nose lamp, a humanoid figure was clearly visible astride the whale-scaled protozoan, gripping some kind of riding tack with pseudopod hands.  At the end of a long curved neck, a bulbous head swiveled left, then right, and the Microsian’s single red photosensitive eyespot pulled apart into two eyes, then gazed for an instant across half millimeter of aquatic micro-space at Joni.