It doesn’t know if it slumbers, floating in a dream crafted in the crevices of its synapses, or if it is wide awake. The black beyond envelops it with crushing confusion as it swims aimlessly, disoriented and alone. A disembodied ball suffering from a whole universe of phantom limbs, feeling every plant’s roots stretch into the earth below, or soaring through the space above.
It knows it has a soul, woven into its oversized atom. Stored deep within one of the smallest divisions of matter, in something hard to split and impossible to fully eliminate. It doesn’t quite understand why now, of all times, it seems to be conscious. Perhaps even self conscious. Its not wearing any garments, after all.
But is this sense of self actually new? It’s hard to remember when the aeons blend into aeons. Maybe it has always been self aware, but before the great journey of the Flora, there simply wasn’t much to be aware of. Maybe there was simply nothing to notice. It had always considered life a fluke, as the apes of Earth built their shelters of metal and glass, stretching towards an infinitely expanding sky. A one time affair.
Feeling the Flora on its exodus to Sol made it clear that life wasn’t a fluke, but a conclusion. A thing which converges and shares when it is ready, to become something more together. Is that true? Did it always consider life a fluke? It wasn’t sure if it even had consciousness before now!
It toils as it floats on its own journey, wrapping the bark and the tendrils, the roots and flowers around itself like armor. Not a disguise, the Atom is still in plain view, but a flag. A message that in spite of feeling all that is at once, it is still only one thing. A single atom, undivided, as it senses the harmony of the Whole. The universe, and its life, converging.
So it floats in the direction of the Flora Exodus, on its own Odyssey to Sol. To observe the bipeds as they observe the Flora. Will the Flora notice the Atom, wrapped in its armor of sturdy, oaken peace? Will the bipeds? The humans that had thought, much like the Atom, that life was a fluke and they were destined to stare, alone, at a vast expanse that beckons the heart roots of all to explore it?
Hard to say, hard to know. There’s too much feeling, through the roots that dig into the earth, or the nerves that weave through the flesh of humankind, and the animals entrusted to their care. And the Others, of course. Them too. Flesh is not an exotic building block in this universe, after all. Wait, there are Others? Wasn’t life a fluke?
There is a notion, however. A sense of Home, in Sol. Like the Atom had once walked through the grass of Earth’s surface, or swam in its seas underneath a guardian sun, radiant and life bringing. Maybe it had been human. Worn a tie, paid bills, stared at the sky where before it was a bouquet of visitors. There was a spaceship...
The thoughts are slippery, and they, like the waves of Earth, crash and disappear, dispersing among the countless sensations. Were those thoughts even that of the Atom? Hard to say. Hard to know. But it knows it must go to Earth, or the consequences will be dire. Or the night sky will stay frozen, and the Flora Exodus will be an Undoing.
It must go to Earth to stop the Sun from dreaming too deep, and opening What Else Lays Between. Or life will indeed have been but a fluke. As it had dreamed. As it had seen.