I was there when it happened. The colony at the crossing of Mills Road and 12 Dwellings has had its share of flooding and predations, but I had never seen anything so catastrophic as the upheaval.
I was working as usual, hauling leaf, and I was returning with a load, when I noticed the presence. I had just reached the edge of the clearing, and I saw some enormous shadow looming out the sky and descending directly on the mound.
Old 98 happened to be behind me, and he reached out and held me back; we found shelter in the larger rocks and watched helplessly. We were not so much concerned that the mound was being destroyed. It has fallen many times, and it doesn’t take that long to rebuild when you have the numbers. That it goes through its external changes is a seasonal expectation, elemental and customary.
But we were concerned about the nurseries on that first level. Because of recent flooding concerns, we had moved the nurseries from the lowest levels up to the highest.
Now, we were looking at some enormous, formless, and tempestuous thing that pounded mercilessly upon the very entry with enough force to tear open and collapse what was there. It dropped upon the workers that were scurrying about and crushed them, and it shook the ground, demolished the entrance, and laid bare the primary chambers. It seemed to rise and plummet, as if perhaps dysfunctional, and it fell again and again, raising calamity and destruction.
We saw three young workers running by, completely disoriented, and Old 98 called them over. Once they began to get input from an objectified consciousness, they began to calm down. One of them was second rank and communicated for the others.
“What is happening, sir? Why aren’t we down there helping the others? Sir, hundreds of our people are dying. Why didn’t we sense this? I thought we could sense all natural disasters.” He was indeed very shaken up, but I found myself in agreement with his line of thought.
I turned to Old 98, “He’s right, sir; we didn’t receive any kind of alarm about anything like this.”
Old 98 was perhaps in his fourth or fifth cycle of seasons. He was my supervisor and would be supervisor to the group leader in charge of these neophytes. His real designation was G-3/N-7/5K, 098; but he was well recognized, and everyone knew him as Old 98.
He raised an appendage towards the young ones, “Who is your group leader?”
“It was 6/3/2mil 24, sir. He’s gone; he was in the clearing, close to the entrance, when that thing came down. He was one of the first to go.” The young worker began to tremble and appeared to slip into a series of spasms.
I had actually seen this before. Without the central consciousness, the less experienced minds often succumb to emotional distress. He was becoming traumatized and going into shock. None of us there were trained to deal with this; and I felt a wave of despair, as I thought about all the nurses down there in the clearing.
They were dying by the dozens … the younger ones running around blindly, the older ones picking up babies and trying to escape with them … they were all getting crushed in plain view. I felt a nudge and turned to face a very stern look from Old 98.
“You have to hold yourself together,” he said, “And help me out here. I cannot hold all of us together by myself.”
“What can I do for you, sir?”
“You have to find order in yourself and then convey it. Look into your memory and find that stream of thought that says we always survive. It came from the central consciousness, but the central consciousness is not here with us now; that wisdom is in you now.
“You’ve seen disasters, you’ve seen our people die by the hundreds, you’ve been in the rains of poison … probably survived a fire or two … and we go on. Don’t we?
“The people have always been here, will always be here; but more importantly, we are here now. And we will survive.”
Without realizing it, in his effort to empower me, Old 98 had kept the attention of the youngsters engaged as well; and so, he had indeed been able to keep all of us together. But I understood the lesson.
As Old 98 turned back to the other, I touched each of the two younger ones with a sensor, entered their wonderful, juvenile minds, and conveyed my confidence into them. For the first time in my life, I had been called upon to be a group leader.
I felt the powerful and gentle consciousness of 98 begin to disengage as he turned his attention to the afflicted one (but he never let go completely). The other two shuttered as they felt one presence leave and another one take over. They were maintaining their composure only as well as I could maintain mine now.
I touched one calmly, “What is his designation? And yours?”
They both answered as one, “He is 7/1/2mil 2,001, sir. We are 8/23/2mil/720, 845 and 846, sir.” And they both looked at me with helplessness and dependency in their eyes. An idea occurred to me.
“I am 5/5/2mil 55. There’s an easy one to remember, huh?”
“Do you remember what elder 98 said about finding a stream of thought in ourselves – the memory of survival?”
“Can you find that memory in yourselves? Remember what it’s like when the central consciousness holds us all with one thought? And now that the central consciousness is not with us, we still know that we are only part of something greater.”
They remained attentive and calm, and their eyes began to brighten.
“You see, if you can find your own thought stream of survival, you can find your own confidence and strength … and if we all do this, we can help in the recovery of 7/1/2mil 2,001.”
They glanced at each other, and then they looked at me again; and now, there was a very different look in their eyes.
Old 98 turned around, “Thank you, boys. He’s alright now.” And he turned to me, “I heard what you conveyed … you did very well there.”
We could see 7/1/2mil 2,001 getting up now and moving his head from side to side. All our minds were linked now, and we continued to watch the devastation; we knew there was nothing we could do until the presence moved on.
Old 98 spoke as he watched; he was maintaining his composure, but I could tell he was tired. “I will try to answer your questions now. We are not down there helping, because we are disengaged from the central consciousness; and in thinking for ourselves, we can see that trying to do anything now would probably only result in death.
“Those you see down there are still engaged to the central consciousness. The central consciousness cannot see what is going on; she can only react to the input she is receiving … from them … and that is hysterical and confused. So, she keeps sending out the same message: Protect the weak and helpless, and initiate the reconstruction. And as you can see, she is only sending more and more people to their deaths.”
He looked at us and nodded, “When it comes to sensing natural disasters, we are among the best.” And he looked back at the turmoil in the clearing, “But that is not a natural disaster.”
I tried to make sense out of what he had just said. “Sir, if it isn’t a natural disaster, are you saying it is a deliberate action of intent? Some living entity is doing this? That gray and roiling storm above us now is a living being?
He nodded. “Yes. We don’t know much about them. Some contemporary thinkers believe they might be gods, but those who manage the ancient archives tell us that there was a time when these entities were not so big … or rather, we were not so small next to them.
“You are free from the central consciousness now, so you can imagine. Imagine a creature so immense that the entire colony could be contained within it.” We sat there in awe. “Of course, we would not do that; it has been seen that in that world of immense creatures, there are predators and scavengers, and the colony would not be safe inside a carcass like that.
“We have been harassed and assaulted by these giant creatures since the historians can trace back. In fact, we have every reason to believe that they are the source of the rains of poison.
“It seems to be slowing down now, so I think it will be over soon. Come sit around me now. I am going to plant a seed of remembrance in each of you, so that if you ever see this kind of thing again and you become disengaged, the seed will open and you will remember and know what to do.”
We all sat around him in silence and reverence; he touched each of us, his consciousness entered, and he seemed to engage our neural systems at their very cores.
A little later, we saw the presence finally moving away. We could only assume that the sound it was making was some kind of primal emotional utterance … it was thunderous and savage.
Old 98 started forward at a casual pace. “When you get closer to the entrance” he was saying, “The central consciousness will reengage with you. Don’t be in too much of a hurry; we have a lot of rocks and babies to move.”
He continued talking, being jocular and motivational. But in those last moments of detachment, I stopped to look at that blurry, whirling entity of destruction fading in the distance; and I could hear the last of its sounds echoing horribly in the breeze, “Hee-hee-hee-hee, ha-ha-ha, hee-hee-hee …”