Lonesome Conscious World
by S Shane Thomas

Conscious awareness came in its earliest moments of existence. Smaller celestial bodies still coalesced in the space around it. Rock and ice constantly smashed its molten surface in the first days. Perhaps one such asteroid brought the sense of self, and perhaps the unique commingling caused the phenomenon. The planet became aware first of its own formation and contentment at the mere sensation of being captivated its mind for thousands of years. Only when its surface cooled, and land masses rose above placid waters did the notion of other living things occur.

The thinking world stretched its awareness to the nearest object that exerted gravity upon it, but the lonely moon could not reciprocate greeting. Never having encountered life outside itself, notions of death and inanimate objects remained unknown. Awareness probed further out until it encountered a handful of its brothers. Life was confirmed under the swirling gas of some and the warm rock of others, life but no sense of oneself or others. The thinking world grew to understand the concept of awareness and named itself Illume. It reveled in the torrents of the mighty star, whose chaos and energy blazed beyond understanding, yet acknowledgement of Illume’s presence never occurred.

Uncounted years passed. Illume delighted in the presence of plant and animal life on its surface and the depths of its oceans. The lonely world came to understand that life alone did not signify awareness of self and the capacity for abstract thought.

A tiny metal husk approached Illume, and the sensation it caused broke the world from its deep meditation. Tiny thoughts flitted about in frenzy. Not one but thousands. Thoughts, awareness, and ideas so rapid and so alien that Illume idled in stunned contemplation, perhaps beings within the metal husk possessed awareness.

A sliver of the husk slid onto Illume’s surface and a handful of the thinking beings scurried about for an instant of the lonely planet’s awareness. Illume reached out to them in a slow, clumsy attempt to greet its visitors. Before a thought could be shared each being had thousands of its own thoughts, and the entire group returned to their sliver and back inside the metal husk.

Illume delighted as the entire husk slid through its atmosphere and came to rest upon its surface. Years passed as the lonely planet contemplated how to commune with the tiny, rapid, and brilliant colonists from other stars.

******

A girl screamed in horror at the sight of her grandfather who seemed to rise from his grave. She dropped the flowers and bolted out of the cemetery and all the way to the nearest Colonial Security Force station. Her late grandfather turned his head and watched her run. He had been enriched and revitalized by Illume’s soil and its life essence restored by the lonely planet. When the human colony’s first funeral deposited the man into soil, Illume restored his fading awareness and over a few weeks the late man and lonely world learned to speak with one another. No longer human, the grandfather, consisted mostly of soil, a mound from the waist down. His head twisted on a man’s torso and an arm pointed at two uniformed men who rushed toward them with guns in hand.

“I told you this would startle her,” the grandfather said.

“I can be patient,” Illume replied through the grandfather’s mouth. “I’ve hoped for companions a long time.”

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