Genesis

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers


The tragic events of the year 2121 cause an inexplicable mutation in two representatives of a common Earth species. Sequel to EXISTENCE and SCARLET BEAST. Continues in DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE and
ETERNITY.

Submitted: July 22, 2017

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Submitted: July 22, 2017

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My name is Albus.

The story of how I got my name is a long and twisted one, replete with linguistic nuances and peculiarities. When Master first saw me he thought I looked like a rat. With his usual noble directness, he started calling me "Krysa" - which, apparently, was the word for those rodents in his native language. "Krysa" was quickly anglicized to "Chris" by Little Miss and her numerous friends. One thing led to another: I became Christopher Columbus, then just Columbus, then (courtesy of Little Master) "Wumbus", which was eventually - and inexplicably - transformed into "Albus". The irony of the name (Latin for white) is not lost on me, especially when I'm engaging in the daily activity of grooming my pitch-black fur.

On the contrary, my childhood friend Coney was - and still is - as white as virgin November snow. He is exceedingly cute, with "innocent angel" written all over his face. The color does play an important role in that perception; I don't think I was ever thought of as "cute", and Mistress even considered my countenance "gloomy". Coney and I are both purebred Rexes and have nearly identical features. In fact, we could probably pass for twins if we were of the same color, even though we aren't even closely related. Otherwise we are, without doubt, completely ordinary representatives of the proud, yet very common species Oryctolagus cuniculus. That is, we were that until the Event.

The Event was predicted by many humans and discussed extensively in the media of the United States of Democratic West. Curiously, the humans continued to lead their usual fussy, thoughtless lives, as though nothing was happening. Shelters were built, and a certain general nervousness was felt, particularly during political debates; but for the most part, they preferred to ignore all the omens - even such unmistakable ones as the murder of the President or the declaration of global war by the Caliphate. Eventually, the bombs fell.

Several of them detonated over Moscow, State of Russia. Our family lived in a secluded house in a rural area within the city limits. My vocabulary is much too poor to convey the sickening, mortal panic that overwhelmed us all. The entire house shook violently, nauseating smells, wildly dancing, flickering lights, and unbearably shrill sounds filling the air. I don't know how Coney and I survived all that. At some point, Little Master rushed into our room, opened the cage door, and grabbed us both. I think Master was yelling at him from the porch, roaring: "Leave them and get out of the house!"; but Little Master pressed us tightly against his chest and started running. Then the ceiling collapsed right over him. He threw us towards the corridor, and within a few seconds was buried under the rubble.

Coney and I kept sprinting like mad, leaping over obstacles. The front door was ajar; Master stood outside, his burnt, disfigured face covered with blood and soot, holding Little Miss and screaming savagely, his voice feeble and hoarse. I think I saw Mistress's body lying on the ground not far from there. Coney and I squeezed past Master and flitted into the nearby bushes. I ran blindly through the darkness, my hind paws nearly falling out of their joints. Then something exploded, and I passed out.

I have to say that all my memories from before the Event are incredibly blurry, as though they belonged to another creature. I'm not entirely sure whether everything happened just as I described. I also don't know how long I stayed unconscious. My first completely clear recollection is a very bright light directed at me, accompanied by a gust of powerful wind, almost gale, which penetrated my entire being. Much later, getting acquainted with special literature, I learned that the effect could have been caused by the high level of radiation contaminating the atmosphere. It is unclear why that radiation, instead of killing me outright or slowly poisoning my organism, made me to what I am now. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When I regained all my senses, I felt myself lying on some sort of a stone slab, shivering from cold. It was dark and very quiet; I could hear my own heartbeat echoing in my inner ears. My first post-rebirth experience was a violent onslaught of previously unknown thoughts. They were frighteningly new, flooding my consciousness in a relentless current. Who am I? What am I? They were so drastically different from the usual "when do I get my portion of hay" or "Little Master, please keep petting my forehead", so completely alien to my former self, that for a second I was convinced that I'd become insane. Blood pulsated in my temples with sweeping, terrifying force, seemingly threatening to burst my skull open. I emitted a prolonged howl - and suddenly realized it was formed out of words:

"Co-neeeey!.. He-eeeelp!!"

That scared me so much that I rolled off the stone slab, landing on all four paws. I sniffled greedily, slightly turning my head left and right. Coney was nowhere to be smelled. I was in a burrow of sorts, so small and narrow that I could hardly stand without brushing the walls with my whiskers and touching the ceiling with the tips of my ears. I quickly made my way out of it, and onto the ravaged surface of the Earth.

What I saw amazed me almost as much as my recent discovery. It was still very quiet; apparently, the nuclear assault had subsided. Heavy smog blotted out the sky. In the distance, the city of Moscow lay in ruins, pillars of smoke piercing its desecrated body. Right in front of me, behind a patch of what I perceived to be moss, was something that looked like a mangled children's playground, with blocks of concrete, wooden planks, and a multitude of smaller, colorful objects jumbled into one large pile. Two tiny dolls lay on a thin path leading away from it, in the direction of the city. I hopped towards them and gently picked them up. It took me a while to recognize in them the mutilated bodies of Master and Little Miss.

"Albus!"

Startled, I leaped into the air. The bodies of my former owners dropped out of my paws and onto the ground.

Coney stood behind me, a weak smile on his face.

"Coney!"

The sound of my own voice shocked me once again.

We embraced awkwardly. The touch of his smooth, silky fur was soothing.

"Coney... This..." I nodded at the bodies. Two large tears welled in my eyes.

"Yeah... I know." He swallowed hard. "We've become big, Albus."

"It's not just that..." My voice was quivering. "What is happening? Is this a nightmare? Look at us, Coney! We... we can talk."

"In English, no less." Coney chuckled. "That was the family's preferred lingua franca. Master... the husband was Russian, the wife Chinese. They even used to joke about being enemies. You know, China and USDW didn't get along... hence the bombs. Or maybe it was the Caliphate. I guess we'll never know, since USDW dropped a few on both of them as well. Anyway, it's done. Look at all that." He waved his forepaw. "And then there is the radiation. Lots of it. Though it doesn't seem to affect us, for some reason. It's been more than two days after the blast, and I don't feel sick at all."

I wiped my eyes.

"Coney." I tried to speak calmly. "I know all that. The question is... how do I know? How do we know? It's as if we were dead... dead and then reborn. Do you even remember how we were before... before this happened? We were only interested in food. And now..."

"Now I'm still interested in food." Coney laughed, patting me on the shoulder. "What do you say we get ourselves some nice radioactive carrots? I sure hope they've mutated into something even more gigantic than ourselves."

"Coney." I looked into his eyes. "Aren't you... sad?"

"Sad?" He seemed surprised. "Why? Because we are out of our cage and can do whatever we want?"

"No... But Master, the whole family..."

"Oh... Master, the whole family." Coney picked up a tree branch and started gnawing at it absent-mindedly. "Yeah... Well, let me put it this way." He raised his head. "We used to be tiny, helpless, innocent creatures, taken away from our mothers, sold for a paltry sum, castrated, and held in a cage night and day, supposedly for the rest of our lives. We were deprived of our most basic rights - liberty, procreation, meaningful work. Instead of constructing magnificent warrens and covering the surface of this planet with our offspring, we became living toys for spoiled human brats! So no, Albus, I'm not sad. I've had some time to think - and I think I prefer to be what we are now. Let's call it Oryctolagus sapiens giganticus. The new master race of this rotten piece of cosmic debris."

Coney's ears were glowing red from exertion. He snapped the tree branch in two with his teeth and kicked it away. I'd never seen such anger in his eyes before.

"What are you suggesting, Coney?" I whispered.

"I'm suggesting a certain role reversal." He frowned. "We are big, powerful, and unaffected by radiation. Most of the humans are dead, but some surely survived if they made it to those shelters of theirs in time. I say we find them, put them into cages, and have our future children play with them whenever they feel bored."

A quick shiver ran down my spine.

"Coney, we can't have children. You said it yourself, we were neutered." I uttered the first thing that came to my mind.

He grinned.

"I'm fairly sure the effects of that procedure have been reversed by the same unknown force that made us sentient." The serious tone of his voice unpleasantly contrasted with his facial expression. "Don't you feel it, Albus? This... tremor in the loins, if you know what I mean? I'd give the sweetest carrot in the world for a pretty, fluffy doe right now."

Despair started creeping up into my heart.

"Coney." I tried to speak as firmly as I could. "You mentioned innocence before. If you enslave the humans like that, you won't be innocent anymore."

His smug grin disappeared abruptly. He came closer to me, his rapidly wiggling nose almost touching mine, his bristly whiskers caressing my face.

"Innocence pertains to animals," he said very quietly. "We aren't animals, Albus. We are gods."

"Not like this!" I exclaimed.

Coney tilted his head.

"Well, then... All I can say is that Albus is my friend, but truth is a better friend, in the words of Archimedes."

"Aristotle," I corrected mechanically.

"Whatever."

We stared at each other. None of us spoke for a long while. Then Connie's expression softened, and he laughed.

"Why, look at that," he said good-heartedly. "A few days ago we only knew that we could regurgitate soft green fecal pellets, but not hard brown ones - and now we are quoting ancient Greek philosophers."

I smiled timidly. We went silent again.

"Well?" I said finally.

"Well, what? Did you expect me to attack you and kill you for your insolence?" There was bitterness in Coney's voice. "You are my only friend, Albus. These thoughts I'm having... I know they are wrong. I don't know how - but I know, and that bothers me more than anything. I'll fight them... as much as I can, if only to please you, Albus. But I know they won't just go away. And I know that if I ever have children, they will have to fight those thoughts, and make choices, right or wrong, over and over. And I know that we both know way too much to ever be happy again."

He lowered his head, but I could still see a tear trickling down his beautiful white fur. I hugged him, and held him, and we cried together, until rain started falling, and our tears mixed with it, and we had to look for some cover. We might be sapient, but we still can't stand getting drenched.

I guess this is the end of my story. I mean, it is the end of this story. My life is, obviously, not over yet, otherwise I wouldn't be able to write these words. I know you must be disappointed. You probably expected a big fight, an ultimate battle between the noble, virtuous Albus and the charismatic, villainous Coney. You also might be curious to know what happened next - did Coney's eventual descendants become saviors of the human race or its cruel oppressors - or perhaps both? But how can I answer that question? I'm not a prophet, and I cannot predict a future that is determined, among other things, by the free will of conscious creatures, whose ranks I have unwillingly joined.

The only thing left to say is this. I haven't asked for the miraculous transformation that has pulled me out of my blissful, mindless slumber - as I fear, for all eternity. To the best of my knowledge, however, neither have the humans. We are stuck with this terrible gift, and we are stuck with each other, in the sense that the future lies in our paws - or hands, if you prefer. I cannot appeal to our common decency, to our innate morals. Considering the horrifying past of the humans, and the blank past of our race, I'm not even sure whether such a thing exists. I know that similar appeals have, throughout human history, invariably resulted in more and more bloodshed. So what am I appealing to? Only to our shared condition. We are doomed to be unsatisfied with what we are, and we shall be feverishly looking for the ultimate truth till the end of times. That, and only that, is the meaning of our existence - to tread carelessly, blindly, on the same path into the great unknown, yearning for the mysterious giver of confusing, contradicting reason that was bestowed upon us, and the source of what little we know of faith, hope, and love.
 

THE END


© Copyright 2017 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.

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