Time: 15 minutes
Prompt: All of the chemotactic mutants
Source: William B. Wood, The Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
All of the chemotactic mutants had been amiable thus far. If amiable is a word that can be applied to interactions with a human subspecies that has diverged so far from contemporary descendants of the common ancestor as to make communication practically impossible. Nearly a quarter of a century had passed between the accidental discovery of the chemotacts by Cranston and his team in 2015 and the irrefutable demonstration of meaningful two-way communication with them by Orson, et al. in 2039.
When first discovered, suspended in their slurries of symbiotic bacterial amnio-sludge, deep within what were later recognized as fully developed and cooperative subterranean cities, it hadn't even been clear whether they were, in a classic animal sense, even alive. They had remained immobile for so long long, exhibiting so little evidence of metabolic activity, that their dormancy was nearly mistaken for well-preserved death. The idea that these limbless, gilled, newt-like creatures might be sentient was only considered once several of them had been removed for detailed laboratory examination and the others had responded by becoming suddenly quite active, imprisoning a group of dive-suited human investigators in a chitin sphere and ejecting them (mostly unharmed, though mildly bent, due to faster than planned ascent) to the surface.
The real shocker, of course, the thing that nobody wanted to believe, was the discovery that these creatures' genomes showed as little variation, with respect to sequence and structure, from those of humans as might be observed between any two ordinary humans randomly sampled from any two points of the globe. These creatures, which by all morphological criteria, ought to be of a previously undescribed suborder of the Caudata, were, in fact, human. As human as Nelson Mandela, the Queen of England, Jimi Hendrix, or your own baby daughter.
(about my timed writing exercises)
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