eggThe Egg

by Rachelle Shepherd      

It was a scientist who proposed the idea, tossed out wildly at a convention for recovering cultists. His name was never jotted down, and he will never take credit for the line of inquiry that led to the greatest discovery of mankind. He simply let the idea lodge itself into the fevered brains at the meeting, and they went home to let the hypothesis simmer, once again feeling like they were part of something greater than themselves, something cosmic.                   

Many recovering cultists are influential people. Politicians, research scientists, astronauts, and lords of finance. They combined their wealth and knowledge, and wealth of knowledge, to send out secret research teams and expeditions. It began to consume their lives. And as it began to consume their lives, the world began to take notice of the teams digging in Antarctic ice for ancient texts, and the astronauts who doomed themselves to death by rocketing their spaceships into unfathomable depths of space. They noticed the scientists who barreled their submarine craft toward undiscovered pockets of ocean, and the chemists who experimented with elements that bore unearthly properties.                   

The whole world was waiting in anticipation of discovery. Preachers of strange prophecies appeared on daytime television for interview. Was it true?                      

The unnamed scientist had merely pondered aloud, what if planets were eggs? Did anyone think about that? Really think about it? The crust could be a hard shell, hiding layers of flesh. Perhaps the magma was blood, the fluid of life, boiling in the hot arteries of a deity. The shifting tectonic layers could easily be calloused meat sliding into place as the creature aged with the pass of eons. Were we parasites on a much larger host? Was the core a revolting yolk, pressurized and waiting to bloom into a flower of horrifying proportions?                    

Fringe media proposed that his idea was simply a metaphor. Imagine their shock when his poetic idea was proven by scientific discovery.                   

First, the Antarctic dig teams pulled a frozen codex from beneath the ice. It was written in a strange language of chicken scratch, but the images inside were unmistakable. The earth was peeling apart in these pictures, and streams of energy coiled out like the whipping tentacles of an octopus. Then the submarine divers penetrated a particularly thick pocket of pressured ocean. They transmitted video and image files back to land, files that depicted strange scenes of crust bubbling and sphincters opening in the earth. They collected samples of mucous oozing from seemingly inert and lifeless rock formations.                    

The astronauts in deep space sent back grainy photographs of planets cracked in half. They were hollowed out, emptied of their contents. The space around them was thick with viscid fluid, the scenes of birth. A chemist, nearly forgotten in the haste of discovery, swallowed a gram of his synthesized elements and spoke of strange geometry before he collapsed on the floor of the lab, his heart dead in his chest.                   

Media exploded. The number of prophesying preachers doubled, and the streets were thick with the homeless warning of the end days. We lived on an egg, a seed, a fetus waiting to peel away from its sleep and take its first steps in interplanetary travel. This shocking truth balanced above us like the world on Atlas’ weak, bending shoulders. Soon it would collapse and cast us beyond the protective skin of atmosphere, where we would die terrible lonely deaths in cold space.                   

We couldn’t colonize other planets, for surely they brimmed with the same life. And what didn’t hibernate beneath the crusts of Mars and Europa wandered the space between them, searching for juicy organisms. The world demanded a solution, and many people stomped their feet, perhaps hoping to bludgeon the creature to death.                    

Presidents gathered for meetings and interviews. It was agreed that we would begin human sacrifice. Volunteers arrived at such events in handfuls. We perched on a precipice of human culture just as the fervent cultist perched on the lip of a volcano, praying to this elder being before feeding himself to it.                   

It was believed that perhaps these human sacrifices would work. However, we will never know, because it was with a loud snap that the mountain ridges of the world crumbled and out crawled the monster in the egg.

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Rachelle Shepherd lives in southern Indiana. She collects books, cats, and tattoos.
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