We had been commissioned to explore a newly uncovered portion of the Amazon forest. It was breaking news in the science community that there was a new section capable of safely sustaining human exploration. Having the honor to be a part of the very first team to embark on this new journey was just mind blowing. We fully anticipated discovering new plant life, new animals, birds, bugs, aquatics, and maybe some new small bodies of water. We never anticipated discovering an entirely new compound. We’d have to rewrite the entire periodic table.
The concept of a new compound took us a very long time to grasp. Eventually, it occurred to us that with having this new compound, there could even be others. A possible link in the chain that could lead to proof of alien life. The possibilities were astounding..
But I digress.
It was the sixteenth day of exploration. We were all roughing it. Backpacking through the thick of the Amazon forest. It was the earlier hours of the morning. We had only been packed and moving for about an hour when we came upon a fairly open clearing. There was a large pile of downed trees near the center right of the area. We could tell they were rotting out, so we felt it would be easy to move them.
I was the first to reach the bottom of the pile. My eyes had trouble adjusting to what I was seeing. There was a glowing pool of liquid. It was almost translucent. It had a blueish purple iridescence to it as well. I touched it, blindly. Not at all thinking it could be harmful. It had a reaction similar to that of Mercury. It was liquid, but wasn’t wet. My superior immediately grabbed my hand, pulling it away.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” he bellowed. “We’re in the middle of fucking uncharted territory and you think to yourself, yeah! Let’s play in the random fucking ooze!”
I was beside myself. “I’m sorry, sir. I got ahead of myself.”
“Your actions could jeoporadize this whole fucking operation, do you understand me?” he chastised.
I quickly darned myself with the proper attire to handle foreign substances from my backpack, and collected multiple samples, stowing them away in one of our heavy duty briefcases.
After recording documentation of our findings, we pressed forward.
The deeper into the forest we travelled that day, the hotter it got. Before I knew it, I had broken into a serious sweat. I noticed that the sweatier I became, the more my hand began to itch. That same hand that I had stupidly stuck into the mysterious goo. I couldn’t stop thinking about it actually, that luxurious substance. It’s like my entire vision was clouded with a interplanetary imagery of galaxies, stars, and endless space. It was beautiful, and I was damned to a state of distraction.
I was quickly pulled out of my thoughts when one of my colleagues, Jonathan, found himself ensnared with a root of a newly discovered tree-flower hybrid. I dropped my bag and rushed forward. His ankle was exposed and was getting cut by the razor like bark of the plant. I wrapped my hands around his ankle, planted my feet, and gave a strong yank. He came free. But he was bleeding pretty badly. It was on my hands, that was for sure - no pun intended. Our on site medic treated the wound, and we decided to stop for lunch, and to watch the plant.
About ten minutes or so had passed. Jonathan was zoned out, almost like he was in a trance.
I bumped his knee. “Hey man, you alright?”
Coming out of it, he shook his head a bit. “Yeah, man, I’m cool. I’m just very… distracted.”
“What on your mind, man?” I asked.
He hesitated. “Agh, it’s hard to explain, man. I’m not really thinking about anything in particular. I just can’t stop thinking about how beautiful the night sky is. The stars, forming endless constellations, a part of endless star systems. The galaxies they compose, which stretch beyond the farthest possible realms of our imaginations. All the LIFE that must exist! We are nothing. Absolutely nothing. Humanity exists in total isolation, compared to everything that the universe has to offer. This isn’t some Twilight Zone shit, man. This is real.” He looked at me momentarily, and then seemingly slipped back into his daze.
I was concerned. Unbeknownst to him, I had been pondering similar ideas. His thoughts seem far more clouded than mine, however. How was this new substance even affecting him? Only I had touched it. I needed to do some scientific reasoning. I touched it, and had no immediate reaction. I started sweating… the residue must have seeped into my pores. I grabbed him bare handed when he was entangled. He had an open wound. My sweat could have transferred into his blood stream at that point. But how was it more potent in him than I? Was it… growing? Spreading? Inside me?
After completing our lunch, we continued on with our exploration for the rest of the day. As nightfall approached, we found a secure (so far as we knew) place to bed down for the night.
It was around four in the morning when I heard the zipper of my tent. I opened my eyes and sat up. Looking around, the flap was closed; no one was in my tent. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I examined the contents of my tent further. My backpack - it was missing. The briefcase was in my backpack. The briefcase with the compound.
I fled from my tent as quickly as possible. To my utter dismay and bewilderment, I saw Jonathan standing in a pool of moonlight, roughly ten yards ahead of me. He was naked as the day he was born, and the briefcase lay battered and broken at his feet. All of the vials of the unspecified substance lay empty on the ground next to him, expect for one. He had rubbed the substance across his entire body. The last vial was in his hand. He lifted it to his lips.
“No!” I screamed, lurching forward. My comrades were immediately at high alert and rushing out of their tents. Before anyone could get to him, he tipped the vial and drained it’s contents into his gaping maw.
We all halted. Exchanging a few rushed glances, no one was quite sure what to do next. Suddenly, his eyes… they began glowing. It was the same iridescent blueish purple I had identified only hours ago, under the decaying trees. Only now it was as if the most vibrant light bulb in existence was behind his eyes. In the light of the moon, I could see the skin at his feet turning the darkest of black, almost devoid of any color. The blackness grew, like a vine, snaking up his body, and he lifted his hands toward the night sky.
“YES!” he bellowed. “IN FIRE AND FLAME, I ABOLISH THIS NAME. LIFT ME INTO THE HIGH HEAVENS, FOR I AM ONE WITH EVERLASTING LIFE. MAY THE HIGH CONSCIOUS ABSORB THIS USELESS BODY AND SEIZE ME FOR THEIR PURPOSE.”
His body burst into the bluest, whitest flame.
He danced in the glory of that flame.
My hand itched. I grew weak with envy.