Cosmic Bolero

Every great thing has a small beginning.

It is true this time as well.

The thing looks like a shiny pearl of black ink, a sweatdrop fallen right from the visage of Night. It falls from the uncaring sky and it plunges through air onto the featureless skin of the lonely planet.

From there, it slides further. It seems for a moment it would slip past the ravine’s edge and disappear into the abyss, never to be seen again, but not this time. It touches a solitary blade of what mighht have been grass, or perhaps algae.

The black pearl envelopes it and it starts to absorbs it – in a few moments, just the timee to blink for you actually – it has taken it over and it disappers inside the blob, which grows just a tiny bit, gaining girth and heft.

From the rounded dome of its surface a short stalk sprouts and with a pop a tiny white eye sprouts to glare upon the almost-barren world.

The newly-evolved thing peruses its surroundings, and finding nothing too interesting at the moment, it slides further, moving as fast and as confident as a drugged slug.

But moving it does. Along its path it stumbles upon more of that withered grass and envelopes it into its growing body. As it climbs the hill, its bottom wriggles and sprouts tiny legs, like a black millipede.

This is a momentous occasion, as the wriggling appendages propel it faster and faster, so much in fact that its lower end slides off and falls back, alone and forgotten.

It also stumbles upon a few blades of grass and goes on its merry way.

The black drop, which by now has eyes and wriggling legs, aims towards everything it can put its grubby appendages upon. Sleepy moss here, a wringled bough there, a patch of grass.

With each tiny morsel it grows larger and larger, and more complex: its front develops a snout and then a pair of mandibles. Hey, that sure does look convenient!

As it proceeds, it seems that the surface of the once-barren planet is now starting to grow more and more populated. It spots plants and even low trees, seemingly made out of skin and bone, and tiny wriggling things chasing each other beneath the red foliage.

It chases them as well and snap-snap-snap! In a few lunges it has eaten almost all of them. The survivors have sprouted wings to escape and the original inky thing stretches its body to try and reach them, but they are out of its reach now.

A bit perplexed, it decides to slide downhill for now, and then it finds a slope that leads towards another ravine. On the other side: another patch of trees, and more living things, moving about, letting screeches and cries towards the grey sky.

Ah, that’s a chance!

The thing can see an opportunity where it presents itself, so it propels itself downhill, gathering speed and purpose like a rock rolling towards its destiny and something else’s doom. It stretches its appendages and they spread and thin, growing into leathery wings.

The shape is imperfect, so it starts to flap and flap and flap, sounding like a hundred whips snapping as one.

It reaches the edge.

Witg a shrill cry of joy and craving, it slides through the air and takes flight, flapping its hideous wings towards the other things that are too slow to scram. It snaps snaps snaps its jaw and eats them up.

Still drunken with joy, it does not notice when something else takes it between its scaly paws.

A huge head falls upon it and cleaves it in two, biting into its slimy black flesh.

The new monster lets out a roar as it bites onto the unhappy slime and it incorporates it into its growing body. Spikes grow down its tail and it slumbers forward, looking for more food. It’s the king of the forest and nobody can think of challenging it.

As it keeps going more quick beasts come out of the woods to try and attack it, but with a swing of its tail it sends the assailants against the rocks breaking their scaly bodies upon impact.

It eats them as well and it develops gills, which does come in handy as it reaches a wide beach. There is nothing else interesting to soo or to eat on the beach, so why not take a dip?

After all, it is the largest and the most dangerous predator!

It begins to swim, its arms turning into swift fins and the gills running down its elongating neck as its hind legs fuse into a mighty tail. And there it goes, swift into the depths.

Along the way it meets another of its kind, or at least similar enough for a quick mating session in the depths. From their knotted dance sprout a swarm of scaly white things. The parents swim away from their pale brood but they are certainly not quick enough. The nasty creatures tear them apart, growing fat in the process.

The fattest are also too slow to avoid being turned into food themselves.

By the end of the rondò only a couple white slender creatures, armed with scales and too-full a stomach to care about eating more, swim away.

One of them touches land. It quickly reverts to a more comfortable form, its gills growing back into lungs and its tail turning into a pair of legs. It raises its terrible head to roar its threat… and a murder of red birds tear through its flesh, eating it with as much voraciousness as one hundred years of rust.

The flight of birds reaches up in the air and it spreads around, as more reach up to fight them and eat eat eat. From below come roar and cries and a rumble of huge bodies as they clash against one another.

The seas boil with tumultous life.

The mountains walk on six legs, sweeping over the fields of fleeing bleating flesh.

And then the black horizon rises revealing an endless mouth as it folds upon itself, eating through the valleys and the rivers and the oceans and the mountains and the light disappears into its belly.

It folds upon itself to form a huge sphere, echoing and wobbling a bit still with the memory of its last launch.

Like tired waves in a pool it slowly goes still.

Upon its surface nothing moves and nothing breathes.

Only wave along with the wind a few mangly blades of withered grass.

And from above an inky drop falls from the blind skies.

Author’s Notes: this was inspired by Ravel’s Bolero, and also by a short cartoon by Bruno Bozzetto (which you can watch here on youtube) that really stuck with me when I was a kid. I thought about it again and this came out. Thanks for reading.


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