Unity – An Ideological Horror Story in Four Parts – for Worlds and Words Short Story Wednesdays
Triggers – loneliness, loss
This is a first person short-form socio-political spec-fic short.
This is the important section because it is called the same thing as the main title. It is also the end of the story.
Part 4 –Unity
Space is cold. The stars are burning ice, and their incredible beauty is balanced, measure for measure by the ache of being indescribably alone witnessing it. My people are not the only ones suffering. This story, with you, is all I have against the void. But all stories must end.
The aliens were many and potent. They spoke of harmony and unity. They spoke in unity, the boundaries between each and another were non existent. They couldn’t understand, for all of their potency, all of their listening, how we, who are, after all, one species, could be fighting each other. They couldn’t understand how could self-govern this way, with myriad dissenting voices, only finding resolution when the noise of the many finally drowned the few. They could not understand it, but they knew that such dissent, such drowning, was wrong.
They told me they were all in agreement ( as if agreement was a concept of any meaning to a hive-mind). They agreed, humanity’s similarities were far greater than our differences. That unity should be dominant, the shaper of society, our bonds of care and recognition should be holding us together, stronger than the schisms of fear and difference could pull us apart. They told me that they could fix it, this ancient race from beyond the stars. They were so moved by our painful human wrongness, causing our self-persecution, that they were willing to commit all of their race’s energy and knowledge to fixing it. I thought they meant it.
What else was I supposed to think? I was just a person, like you. Can you imagine a race that has always been itself and singular and total? Could you have imagined that that completeness would make it impossible for that race to communicate with anything resembling truth? They spoke, and all I heard was the echo of my own voice, inside my mind, where they made an offer in words that were mine and that they could never have imagined would mean different things than what they meant to them. I heard and echo of an offer that was all the human race would ever need to be whole and happy and safe, but the echo was not the offer I accepted.
Maybe I can ask you to linger a while with this story, even after I tell you what this story was created to say. Maybe I can ask you to think of more than my message after you are done with these words. Maybe if you remember me, even after we are done talking, then I, adrift as I am, as all that remains of me is, will feel it. Maybe the loneliness strung between the stars will keep its distance for a time. That would be important to me, but what I have to say, what the story was made to say, is important for everyone, everywhere, so listen. Listen and remember. Even if I am forgotten, remember this:
In a nameless neighbourhood enclave, besieged by government shock troops, ordered toexterminate the group of psychic humans living there, an alien hive-mind made an offer of peace. It was not so much that they lied, a hive-mind isn’t capable of conceiving of the need for deception. They didn’t lie about the offer, I just didn’t ask them about its cost, and they sang so sweetly under my skin. They promised perfect unity, perfect harmony, for all humankind, forever. When I accepted, they used the part of my brain that made me different from you, to broadcast themselves, glowing and singing within my minds reach to systematically destroy all the parts of them that make them individuals. All of the frontal cortex, all of the higher thoughts, what they could not use they destroyed and what they could use they assumed control of. My neighbours stood, still and slack-jawed in the streets, the children playing under the assault bot froze in place, soldiers put down guns. The organism stopped fighting itself.
Some of my people resisted, their bodies were purged from the inside out and their carcasses re purposed for component parts. Me? That I still don’t know. I never believed in a mind without a medium before. I didn’t believe in aliens either. There must have been something special about my mind though, because the aliens came to me to sing and make peace offers. I’m here, in the cold and the stars, telling you this, but my body’s still somewhere planet-side, a flesh-host for the aliens, bigger and more efficient and more powerful than anything the Hive could have grown on its own.
How did I escape? You have a funny definition of escape. I’m a cloud of thoughts and the shrapnel of a shattered consciousness, floating aimless and eternal through space, that managed, just once, to cohere enough to suggest this story to the dreams of a small-time writer of strange science fiction. A writer, who is not so different from how I used to be, or how you I are. I know that because I brushed her sleeping mind, so briefly, when I whispered to it the message you must, please, hear. Hear and remember me, dissipating, I think, into the endlessly looping cosmic static. Her mind was like my mind, is, probably, like your mind, even though we were all once different people with different lives. That distinction matters little to the aliens. This is what I have been trying to tell you, why I’ve been working so hard to show you that your story is not so different from mine that it could not become it. We are one humanity. One humanity of equally serviceable flesh-hosts. The aliens see no distinction between bodies and the Hive exists to expand. All the people of this planet are united in their utility to the aliens. Our unity is their strength.