Friday Flash Fiction: I Am Colony

Since I missed out on the theme the week before last, I decided that my story this week should fit the bill. Better late than never, after all, and I am fairly good at being late.


A strange thing happened to me in hyperspace.

I recall… movement. Yes, a distinct sensation of movement. This might sound like a strange observation given the circumstances, but you must remember that during hyperspace travel a starfaring vessel is not under thrust. The transition requires an intense degree of exactitude. A starship must be inertial before initiating the process of folding space.

It’s usually best to keep your eyes shut during that process.

But this, this was different. It actually felt like travelling between stars. And not just stars: I felt as though I was hurtling past and through entire star clusters. I felt the tweaks and tugs of gravity. I felt my skin bathed in the heat of that most direct of radiation.

But there was no time for me to be left breathless. It was over in an almost infinitesimally brief moment. And afterwards… afterwards I found myself somewhere strange, somewhere new. Many places strange. Many places new.

Through one set of eyes, I stood alone in an arid desert of rust, the deep red of dead iron. Through another, I floated, or perhaps fell or flew, through a featureless and endless mist of gases. In another, everything around me was molten, incandescently hot. And again, at the shores of a sea topped by an unbroken foam of algae. And again, atop a caldera, buffeted by hurricane winds. And again, in a jungle so thick it blocked out the sunlight, but in which a natural bioluminescence threw everything into soft relief. And again, and again, and again. Around me were so many worlds I struggled to understand, and so many I found utterly beyond comprehension. And through all these eyes I saw these things, and each one was real.

In each case, I at first felt myself… serene. At peace. Safe, and knowing that warmth which is without temperature. And then, after these few seconds of comfort, I was released to the many climates into which I had been placed.

I died many times.

I died many times: this is a strange thing to say. Yet it is the only way I can describe what I felt. Perhaps it explains the sorrow I feel, as I explore these many millions of worlds on which I still stand. Or perhaps that is simply loneliness, for nowhere on these countless worlds, through the eyes of these countless selves, do I see any other living being.

Over time I have come almost to terms with this. Perhaps the impossibility of what I perceive as one mind being tangled up with more bodies, more physicalities than I can contemplate, permits me this dispassionate approach; or perhaps that is simply the prior lifetime of isolation and travel. Whatever the cause, I have set to work turning what I find to good use. Piling rocks into cairns, drawing pictures and words in mud, cutting hard ice with harder ice. Anything to establish a presence here. Leaving my footprint. Man’s footprint.

Perhaps its simple existence, whatever form it takes, will be enough for me. Enough for us.

7 Responses to “Friday Flash Fiction: I Am Colony”
  1. Brilliant, way-out-there concept. Reminds me of two of Greg Egan’s novels combined – and Permutation City.

  2. the missing title is Diaspora.

  3. neilbe says:

    Some fantastic imagery and this bit:

    “Whatever the cause, I have set to work turning what I find to good use. Piling rocks into cairns, drawing pictures and words in mud, cutting hard ice with harder ice. Anything to establish a presence here. Leaving my footprint.”

    is cool, three distinct images cast in a single sentance.


  4. GLP says:

    This is really excellent. I would really like to see it expanded into something longer – there are so many possibilities for adventure, it’s making my head spin.

  5. Shaun CG says:

    Thanks, guys! As always I really appreciate your comments. :)

    Gareth DJ: Thanks for the comparison. I’ve only read a little Greg Egan, but I’ll investigate those two novels.

    Gareth LP: I’ll give some thought to the idea of expanding it. It would be a lot more difficult to use this character convincingly in anything longer than this, but I’m sure the challenge would be fun.

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