Aphelion Issue 289, Volume 27
November 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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Food For Thought

by Lori R. Lopez

A floating intelligence traveled dormant.
Semi-conscious. Dreaming in vibrant color.

A ball of mind-matter, cocooned in a sturdy
protective layer. Mineral armor; a shell.
Napping to ease the boredom of Space…
through vacuous, quiet, torpid, tedious stretches.
With nothing to do but brood and reflect. Idle
ruminations. Home. Family. Errors. Regret.
A multitude of mistakes to dwell upon, dissect,
analyze, revive! The stuff of hindsight and rue.

Reasons for moving on. Excuses for leaving
never quite erased the anguish, the self-pity.

A drifter woke at intervals to search, peer out,
collect data via pore-like portals with lids; aware.
Sensing, evaluating, scoping the view, the vista
and all it encompassed for life. A suitable habitat.
Until at last a signal coursed nerves, receptors.
Steering by instinct, drawn toward the beacon.
Wrinkles of emotion, logic, memory, skills
glowed with anticipatory elation. Excitement.

Cold stark placid beauty of the Cosmos would
soon be disrupted by gravity and heat. Pain.

Entering an atmosphere; no turning back now.
The rocky Exoskeleton, the Head-Case burned —
Melting off, exposing soft prismatic tissue.
Transparent, throbbing, emitting an aura.
The interloper hovered at just the right elevation,
calculations set, then separated. An explosion.
A color-refracting organism divided into dust:
infinitesimal spores that would seek out hosts.

Selecting the planet's dominant species…
the smartest most capable among its natives.

Cognitive-invasion. Food for thought and
thought-food. Consuming cells. Regenerating.
Replacing. Taking over from within. Forming
a neuro-colony of related singleminded brains.

Hive-Mentality. Finally, the entire Human Race
would think alike. As one.

© 2023 Lori R. Lopez

Author photoLori R. Lopez is a peculiar author, poet, illustrator, and wearer of hats. Verse and stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies including The Sirens Call, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook, The Horror Zine, Space & Time, HWA Poetry Showcases, JOURN-E, Impspired, Aphelion, Altered Reality, Dead Harvest, and California Screamin' (Foreword Poem). Books include The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, The Witchhunt, The Fairy Fly, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours (nominated for an Elgin Award). Some of Lori's poems have been nominated for Rhysling Awards. You can learn more about her at the website shared with two talented sons: https://www.fairyflyentertainment.com

Find more by Lori R. Lopez in the Author Index.