Quest for Survival

Jyoti Prateek posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-48 on 2023-01-13

We were tiny bacteria, growing up in the warm country of a petri-dish, on a smooth culture medium. Our culture was helping us grow, and we kept growing in booming colonies, when suddenly we realized that our culture medium was over populated. The competition for space and medium grew stiff. Some of my colony inhabitants started secreting inhibitors to control the population growth, but there were others who kept reproducing. The situation was getting out of control and survival seemed difficult in the wake of such dearth of resources. I, along with a few friends of mine, started exploring outside the petri-dish for a new medium, a new country outside the parent petri-dish to propagate our culture. But more importantly it was all about survival.  Once out of the petri-dish we met numerous other strains of bacteria that looked so much like us, but had different food habits and survival requirements. I was beginning to realize a form of life outside my own country. Though we could do without food for a few days, the search for food and a suitable environment to grow had just begun.  I infected a human host, with my team of friends. Our host however didn't seem to welcome our presence and we could feel the temperatures rising around us. Since we had struggled a lot to find this host, we hung on and tolerated the heat. This tolerance gave us strength to stay and we grew more confident of our survival inside the host's body.  Our confidence however, was put to test by a chemical attack of antibiotics. We faced the hardship, though most of my friends could not survive more than three days of the battle. I was left all alone in the host's blood stream, sipping my way to survival. Though I had grown weak by all the temperature and antibiotic attacks and felt only minutes away from leaving my bacterial form, I somehow continued to live. The white blood cells (WBC) army of the host, continued to patrol the host's blood stream and I feared they would spot me and kill me right away.  “Life in the dead medium of our petri-dish had been so peaceful, without struggles like this. Here, the live medium was a challenge to survive in and I was glad I survived until now.” Taking some pride in this little triumph of mine I hid myself from the WBC army. They would ruthlessly crush any foreign intruders, so befriending them was the only way for survival that I could think of. But this pride didn’t last long, as way out of the host was unknown to me. So I sneaked in the subcutaneous alleys of the host to find my way out, while thinking of other options to survive. But before I realized the need to propagate my own culture there, my lifetime as a bacterium was slowly coming to an end. I shed my bacterial body form and became part of the host's mainstream life. Wow! Things now changed dramatically.  The struggle to hide and survive was no more. The host's WBC army didn't consider me foreign anymore. I was now a permanent resident of the host. I realized that I had been struggling to survive as I feared the unknown, and this fear was bred by my focus on what I would have to lose, rather than what I would gain. I felt lucky to have shed my smaller identity with its entire struggle, to become part of a bigger reality, where survival was no longer my concern. I was free to think so much more. Do more and pick a role of my choice in the host!  “The biggest realization with all this was: ‘I wasn't my body, I wasn't my culture and survival was not a question of protecting them, rather growing beyond them.’”   Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!