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Bubbling Mud Heads

The fiddler and the pea

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The Fiddler and the Pea

 

Many stories start with a mistake. This story is an exception; it begins with success, though perhaps the success was a mistake.

One morning cycle, on old Earth-that-was, a geneticist was fiddling with the DNA of a sweet-pea plant. She put it is test tubes, and isolated it, extracted it from the cells and looked at it under her trusty microscope. She took out certain proteins and replaced them with others, and she placed the DNA in a blank bacteria cell. As she fed her little creation proteins, sugars, and other nutrients, she saw it quickly grow and divide and grow some more. Thanks to binary fission, by the time she stopped for lunch this fiddler had a beautiful little colony of glowing green prokaryotes. Carefully, very carefully, the geneticist isolated her colony, placing it in a controlled glass box under her one and only window, and left it to itself for an hour.

Now, a lot can happen in an hour. You can take a short nap, do a jigsaw puzzle, write a short story, or die from the bite of a snail in an hour. Incidentally, one hour was all it took for a sneaky little girl to sneak into the geneticist's little underground lab and completely ruin her marvelous new creation. This sneaky little girl was the geneticist's daughter, and having already eaten her sugar-tuna and peantnut butter sandwich she wanted to explore and to marvel at her mother's facinating creations, and being only eight years old, she couldn't resist playing with them just a little. Coming apon the little glass box on the window sill she half remembered her mother telling her something bad would happen if she opened her boxes. Pendra, which was the girl's name, thought it over. She could leave the box alone, she was almost certain her mother would be angry if she found out, but her mother would be angry with her for being in the lab anyway. The green stuff in the box sloshed around she nicely when she shook it, it looked almost like the green cool-aid back in the top cupboard at home. Believing her mother would never know, Pendra lifted the lid and stared at the green liquid. She poked it, “This feels like green cool-aid jello!” She sniffed it, “This smells like green cool-aid jello!” and finally Pendra liften it up to her mouth and took a big slobbery mouthful, “This tastes like green cool aid jello! But, a little different...” and she happily ate all the rest of it.

Eating too much in a short while tends to have one of two effects on small children, they either become extremely sleepy, or they become rather hyper. In Pendra's case she became extremely sleepy and, spying her mother's lab coat in a puddle on the floor of the little closet, she crawled over and curled up in it, already dreaming of sunlight and spiders.

When the fiddler returned from her delicious luncheon, still wiping a bit of tomato ice cream off her nose she discovered to her horror what had occurred. On the floor by the window lay the empty glass box and a sticky little handprint trail leading off to the supply clost in the corner, where, curled up in her lab coat on the floor, the geneticist found a small green creature that vaguely resembled her eight year old daughter, fast asleep.

When the Pea woke up she was sleeping comfortably in her own little bed. She had woken up because she was a little cold and thought to move into the sunlight under the window. Being in her own bed in her own room was only the first of several changes she noticed. First and most importantly, she noticed she was not alone, staring at her from the other side of her little bed was the fiddler. The Pea, which was previously Pendra, tried to smile sheepishly, whereapon her mother glared and shook her head. Looking down into her hands, the Pea noticed something strange. Her hands were green! Not only were they green, but they had little vines growing from them, and not only did she have vines, but, apon closer inspection she didn't appear to have any skin at all. Instead the green covering had toughened over her whole body, her bones were soft and movable, and little leaflets had sprouted all over, turning her hair, eyebrows and even eyelashes into soft, green, viney, tendrils, and the previously known Pendra looked down at her new body and said, “Awesome!”

Her mother sighed, and gave a tired smile, it hadn't been easy stablizing her daughter, luckily the girl had eaten most of the bacteria, sending it to be broken down in her stomach, and yet the speed with which the tiny amount of virus the girl had breathed in had taken over her entire system was frightening. The geneticist was careful to clean up everything the bacteria gotten stuck in and had to wipe down her whole lab after fixing up her daughter, but at least everything was well now. She had made it back to the lab in time to save her Pendra's major organs, her heart, brain, lungs, and a few others. Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to stabilize her completely, or restore her to her previous state, as a little girl. So Pendra became Pea, a happy, curious, odd little creature, mutated greatly from her former self, and the fiddler swore to never leave her lab unlocked again.

The years flew by, and the fiddler and the pea were happy on the barren dusty shell of Earth-that-was. One of the pea's siblings became jealous, and her father was heartbroken, but those are different stories. Eventually, all the rest of the scavengers living on Earth-that-was left the place, including the pea's father and older brothers and sisters. Only the pea's mother stayed, and they tried to make the best of it and live happily over the years. Occasionally one of the two's relatives would visit, and once a whole team of other scientists came to view the 'anomaly' but left apon hearing of another, more interesting genetic mix up, between a vlob mushroom, a space squid, and a Jolperian time traveler.

The worlds continued turning and the geneticist grew older, the pets Pea and the fiddler kept died off one by one, and were buried with a few tears and much solemnity in their backyard. The fiddler became blind from all the years spent pearing down at slides through her trusty miscrope. The pea meanwhile ran the house, and helped her mother with everything she could. She rented the extra rooms to the occasional sightseer wanting to come see the barren deadness of Earth-that-was. The pea followed the fiddler's directions, to find and create new creatures, ideas, and type up new theories. Meanwhile the pea was noticing new things, she discovered she didn't need to eat, only stand in the sunlight and drink a bit of water now and then. She and the fiddler had noticed early on that she appeared to have stopped aging, though with each season she felt new changes come across her, and with each year that passed her beautiful green skin turned paler, dryer and browner. Perhaps it was only her human face that remained as young and lively as ever. Lastly, she discovered one winter that it just felt like the most natural thing ever to step outside without a mask, and sink her toes deep down into the sandy soil. She even found that by reaching down far enough with her feet her could find some earth that was not sand....

The fiddler, to her credit, never stopped searching for a way to help her daughter, however, she never found it, and on one sunny, windswept saturday, late in the month of July, the fiddler died. Pea threw herself to the ground and wept. She could feel herself sinking farther and farther down into the sand, but she no longer cared. She let herself be pulled deep, deep, down into the soil, her dry brown skin cracking and breaking off on the sand as she felt it pull past her. Deep, deep down in the bit of true earth she nestled, and there, she felt a warmth that reminded her of the fiddler's hugs. She wrapped her arms around herself and let the earth take in her tears until she felt almost completely drained of water. Then pea's true instincts took over and as many many years passed she cracked, broke, and hatched from her shell, racing up through the sand and spreading her arms to the sunlight once more. She grew and grew, and became so tall that she had to bend over and cover the ground. Pea grew so vast that she covered the whole of Earth-that-was, and visitors returned to the empty shell with awe and wonder. Once she had grown and covered Earth-that-was several times in a dense green jungle of vines, Pea died. She withered up and let the rains that now fell turn her into a delightfully soft and squishy mud which soaked down and mixed with the sand all the way through to the deep, deep, earth. A soft primordial soup, full of life and squishy critters, just waiting for a fiddler to come around and create something new.

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