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FICTION


Resistant

By Rebecca Angelo in Issue Four, May 2022

“My name is Clark, and I am a recovering criminal,” I say to my support officer, whom I report to every quarter here on the station near Proxima Centauri. My job in communications at the terraforming office is supposed to make me regret ever dealing in the black market back on Gaia-canth. It's not having that effect.

My subordinate, Dyann, arrives early to offer their report. I think they actually enjoy their life out here in the middle of nowhere. They’re so passionate about everything—prisoner rights, human rights, rehabilitation—it's close to infuriating. I'm just here to do my stupid job, do my stupid time, and get back to Earth.

I'm brooding over how much I miss my hometown when there's a sudden lurch to the whole station.

We all exchange a look, and the three of us scramble as fast as we can in low-G to the control center. We arrive out of breath, our bodies feeling like they’ll be ripped apart in the terrible vibrations coursing through the station. For some reason, Dyann's body keeps melding into mine, and I'm hearing the screams inside their head. Then, as if some godlike hand smacks the station, we all slam to the floor with back-breaking force. Full gravity flickers back on, and we are left jumbled in a heap on the floor. Dyann is groaning in pain, and I wince at my own injuries.

In the blessed stillness that follows, I rise shakily and look around the control center. Two of the technicians—Forest and Salar—are dead. I squeeze shut my eyes at the sight of their bodies and try to turn away, but strange white faces with black orbs for eyes are already flaring against my eyelids. A deep disquiet settles over me, and I desperately need this to be some sort of hallucination, but when my eyes fly open again, the faces remain. From the terrified looks of my crewmates, it’s clear that they must be seeing them too.

“The human Clark is not resistant to our mind-speak. The human Clark will introduce our species to its species.” They are speaking to me directly without the use of sound. Dawning horror is exuding from Dyann and the others around me, but even though these things have reached into my mind, I am not afraid.

“The human Clark is not resistant. The human Clark will follow its mission and deliver its species to us.”

They make their demands in a strange, unified voice, and I can hear what might be whispering, but they are like ropes sliding across the ground or leaves blowing in the wind.

I'm not sure why, but I think what they need me to do makes perfect sense.

“The human Clark is not resistant. The humans aboard this structure will accompany us to Earth and fulfill the mission.”

There's a painfully intense flash of light, and then the mind-source is speaking aloud with my voice.

#

“I won't play their game,” Dyann says as we're being lowered into the atmosphere, the surviving crew herded onto the small bridge, witnessing this confrontation. “I can't be responsible for the greatest violation of human rights in history!” I keep my head down and try to ignore them, but their passion is stirring something within me. They’re right, I think. But how have they managed to resist? Why have I alone been conscripted to bring the apocalypse to Earth, forced to speak with the mind-source’s voice?

Gods, what’s happening to me?

The memory of my arrest on Gaia—canth surfaces from my subconscious like a crashing wave—the anger, the fear. They took my freedom away then–so why am I letting these things take it away again? I shake my head violently, and it’s like Dyann can read my thoughts because now they’re gripping my shoulders painfully and shouting in my face, “Push back, Clark!” The navigation console is digging into my back, and the crowded bridge seems smaller than ever. “You’ve already been robbed of your freedom once—don’t let them take it away from everyone on Earth too. Please!” The rest of the crew is clamoring for me to rejoin their ranks.

Panic is rising in my chest, but before I can answer, a burst of glaring blue light flashes through their bodies and right into my eyes—a beam of pure loathing and hatred emanating from the mind-source—and suddenly I’m ripped from Dyann’s grasp and flung back against the main viewscreen, unable to move or see anything but the blazing light. Invisible fingers are prying open my mouth, and I gurgle in pain as my jaws pop, saliva dripping maddeningly down my throat. Are they doing this to Dyann too?

I am desperately hoping this awful torture will end when the blinding light blinks out and I am choking.

They have forced what feels like a perfectly round rock into my mouth, the muscles of my throat spasming in vain to retch it up. And just before I black out, the sphere slips down my esophagus and sinks painfully into my stomach.

When I wake up, I’m strapped in place to the captain’s chair, and the mind-source is again reaching into my head to caress the rippled meat inside my skull. Dyann is gone—there’s no physical evidence they ever existed.

“The human Dyann has been absorbed within us and without the benefit of awareness. The human Clark is not resistant. The human Clark will carry out its mission with success and pride. Without resistance, Clark will have awareness once absorbed.”

I shudder. Their telepathy is the strangest sensation I've ever experienced, and yet it feels natural now. Everything is changing, even my own body. The whispers from the mind-source tell me that my very DNA is coming apart and being put back together. My proteins are re-writing everything and I can't stop it. I can't stop it.

Gods, I feel sick. Was Dyann right? Is this not the way? My hands are gone. Every extremity has been slowly drawing inward, collecting inside my chest. How did I get here? I am the human Clark, but I am changing, changing, changing.

“The human Clark is not resistant. The human Clark will remain alert and focused on its mission,” the mind-source says, startling me out of my reverie. “The human Clark will bring our knowledge to the other humans on Earth. Our minds will become one mind-source.”

On the outer reaches of Proxima Centauri, we found the mind-source and we did not resist—

Wait, I think. I am the human Clark, but I did resist. The sphere inside me… I did not choose this. I do not want this. My jaw is aching, my mouth stretched and bloody, and there is a thudding phantom pain where my legs once were. “Dyann?” I croak.

“They were absorbed without awareness.” The ever-present mind-source says.

I have a sudden flash of regret/sorrow/terror, but I know that soon enough I will not have these feelings at all. My limbs are gone, and the gut-wrenching pain of these emotions must soon be next.

There is a thud, and I realize we have landed at the southern edge of the main square of Gaia City, Earth’s most populated metropolis—and my hometown. I wonder momentarily if any of my siblings are here in the enormous crowd that’s gathered. I must look monstrous to the other humans because when the mind-source opens the hatch, a wave of terror/disgust washes over me. I cannot be stopped from performing my tasks to complete the mission though.

The mind-source urges me forward, and I find myself floating into the crowd. I am nothing but a head and torso now. I am barely human.

“The human Clark introduces the mind-source to its fellow humans,” I say. “The mind-source seeks to learn our feelings and converse through mind-speak, and to bring all minds to the heart of the one mind-source so that we may become one.” My statement is greeted with stares of fascination and then furrowed eyebrows and angry faces. “You must not be resistant to oneness, or you will be absorbed without sharing in the mind-source's collective knowledge,” I warn them. All of my physical pain is gone now, the mind-source's power flowing through my body—such that it has become.

“What is happening?” A person screams from far away.

“Evolution,” I say. The small sphere the mind-source has planted inside of me shoots up from my stomach, tears out like a wild animal clawing its way to freedom. My mouth is nothing but a gaping hole full of blood and shattered teeth, yet I look on sedately as the sphere swells rapidly in the space between our craft and the frantic crowd. For a moment, it hovers there menacingly, its outer edges shimmering, waves like solar flares swirling around it.

And then it is spinning through the crowd, sucking people up into itself, pulsing with the blinding blue light that tortured me as Dyann was absorbed.

Dyann. Oh gods.

Dyann would have saved them.

People are trying to run, falling over one another, their screams cut off as the flares of light engulf them. I cry out at the sight, a wail that doesn’t sound human, and for the briefest of moments, I think my transformation has slowed. I am fighting an unseen force to drag myself forward again. If I could just reach the sphere—could I re-absorb it somehow? I must. I must.

“Clark is no longer human. Clark is no longer weak. Clark will cease resistance or the mind-source will end its awareness.”

The collective voice is booming through my brain, and the cityscape of Gaia seems to shimmer in and out of existence. My ears must be gone because the screams and great sucking sounds are muffled, fading from consciousness, replaced by a pulsating blue light that has flooded my awareness. Beneath us, the Earth is vibrating with a terrible force as the human species moves toward finality. I am no longer the human Clark, no longer changing. My physical transformation is complete, my mind teetering on the divide between individuality and the alien collective.

The sphere crashes through the city’s monolithic courthouse with a resounding explosion of wood and plaster, and I am helpless to stop it, to save the humans of Gaia City, of Earth.

But soon, the worthy will become one in their knowledge and one with the mind-source. With us.

I am Clark, and I am not resistant.

© 2022 Rebecca Angelo


Rebecca Angelo

Rebecca Angelo is a writer based in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. When she’s not writing speculative and horror fiction, she’s wrangling three wonderful children and three mischievous felines. She enjoys spending time in her flower garden, bird watching, listening to true crime podcasts, and watching stand-up comedy with her partner. When she’s not doing any of the above, you’ll find her buried under a pile of blankets reading a good book. Follow her on twitter @beckybee30.

Fiction by Rebecca Angelo
  • Resistant