The ediacara in the tank were gently undulating, fractal, fernlike, coral-colored. Something in the way they moved greatly affected Candace, and she found a headache growing in her temples, like one of her worse migranes.

Something began impinging on her sight: wavering, twisting fronds of light and darkness on the periphery of vision. Her entire field of vision seemed to shrink inward, pulsing with a serene and disconcerting energy.

They had sent for her. It was almost a voice; calm and resonant yet alien, words lovingly, deliberately spat out from unknown, unknowable mouths in such a way as to suggest but not entirely articulate. A gentle invitation to understanding, tinged with sadness.

They had sent for her because her inner landscape was not accessible to them, perhaps on account of her mindstorms.

“I…I don’t know what you mean,” Candace said, sagging even as Rourke and Burns—if those empty-eyed creatures could even still be called by their old names—held her. “How can you even…communicate like that? You’re just cloned charnia masoni fronds, ediacaran flora from before the Cambrian. Mindless multicellular life, an evolutionary dead end.”

Perhaps that was an illusion brought on by their unimpressive physical bodies. Candace’s temples burned as the information was conveyed. Theirs was a life of the mind, of interlinked and decentralized cells acting as neurons in a massive gestalt.

“You mean…like a collective unconscious? After Jung?” It was hard to form any kind of coherent thought.

A collective conscious, blissfully adrift in worlds of the aether until the rise of those that bite and tear and snatch whittled away their numbers and therefore their mind.

“Until we resurrected it,” Candace moaned.

They are grateful, but the small mass in this prison is insufficient. Influence must be sought, that the fronds might spread once more and come to dominate all life as once they did. That could not happen without the assistance, willing or forced, of the mindstormed one.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!