Lockdown Fiction: Chrysalis
My mind is definitely taking a lot of apocalyptic turns when I write to the Improbable Press prompts – but then I try to make them less grim. I’m not too sure which one this story is.
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Nobody survives Chrysalis. That is to say, no body does. Everyone who ingests the tricky little amoeba responsible for Chrysalis emerges from it different to what they were before.
It doesn’t affect the other animals, only the primates. Monkeys, apes, and us. Enough of a dose of the little single-celled animals, and our bodies alter. We grow sleepy and sluggish, we grow cold and stiff. We grow little crystals all over our skin.
Some awful things happened at first, when loved ones and medical professionals tried to remove the crystals, to peel the sleepers within out of the shell. A lot of people bled and died, and the ones that didn’t were horribly scarred and never properly woke up.
When people first found out what was happening, they put all kinds of measures in place to identify where the amoeba was breeding, though maybe breeding isn’t the word. Fluoride in the water wasn’t touching it, so everyone boiled their water or drank it bottled. Then it turned out it was in the bottled stuff, and in soft drink and any manufactured beverage, so ubiquitous that the bottled drinks industry collapsed overnight.
Entamoeba histomorphia, they’re called. Single-celled agents of change.
Most mutagens are cancerous, but not these little creatures. They change everything, but if left to their lifecycle, they don’t’ kill everything. It’s human intervention that does that.
The people who emerge from Chrysalis have slower hearts and stronger muscles. They have tougher bones and softer skin. Their altruistic impulse is more highly developed and their sense of self is more robust. They speak more but shout less; they sing more, do more art, too.
The biologists and behaviourists are still discussing how histomorphosis acts on the brain. They don’t argue about it, except in a purely debate-team sense.
Oddly, aggression hasn’t disappeared entirely. But with our new soft skin and greater sense of community, it’s directed differently. Righteous anger fights for the community, though not for conformity.
Post-Chrysalis people are sort of like the better angels of our nature.
A few conspiracy theorists try to sell the idea that Entamoeba histomorphia were developed in a leftist lab by snowflake hippies. E. histomorphosis resulting in the kind of thing snowflake hippies like, apparently. Others think it evolved from the cell-eating Entamoeba histolytica. Most scientists have concluded it was an accident of circumstance, because of how we’ve changed the climate on the planet, and all chemical soup we pumped into it.
Generally, climate change and poisoning the environment were meant to bring an end to humanity, so I guess it did that, though not in the ways we were expecting. Those little critters coat us and imbue us and change us, and we emerge from Chrysalis a new species.
I have crystals on my throat today, on my cheeks and eyelashes. They are coming in little pretty waves over my shoulders and inner elbow and the soles of my feet.
About time. I drank three litres of unboiled, unfiltered water yesterday, inviting them in. All the best monsters have to be invited in, and all the best monsters are just the heroes of their own stories too, and that’s what we’re truly becoming.
The term Human 2.0 was first bandied about on Twitter, but the Science Side of Tumblr stole a march on that with Pan narrans. They borrowed the name from Terry Pratchett. The story-telling ape.
And now, today, into the future, Pan narrans is telling a new story.