Image for post
Image for post

The Amorphous Life Form of Unknown Origin

When a planet-sized blob takes over the world, it has to mean something, right?

journalist at the New York Times was the first to say the Amorphous Life Form of Unknown Origin and Distinctly Unusual Composition symbolized man’s hubris in the face of nature. It was a natural disaster not unlike an earthquake or a hurricane. It came out of the ocean, after all, and swallowed Tokyo. The connection seemed obvious, heavy-handed even. But after the scientific community had given up trying to analyze and classify the amorphous life form, heavy-handed metaphor was all they had left.

With each city it consumed, it grew and spread, gaining in size and strength. The world’s military was stumped, unable to stop the spread of the Amorphous Life Form even with humanity’s most sophisticated weaponry.

The Amorphous Life Form resisted scientific analysis just as much as it resisted artillery and thermobaric bombs.

It was around the time the Amorphous Life Form inundated and dissolved Sydney that the world gave up entirely trying to stop the thing and put its resources behind a global effort to understand what exactly it symbolized.

As with any monster that attacks humanity, they are subject to the historical and social forces of the time period within in which they exist and their appearance is usually a manifestation of humanity’s collective fears and desires. The superstitious and backward dark ages had a whole host of monsters born of their general ignorance of the world around them. With the advent of the industrial revolution, the monsters became mechanical in nature. As our knowledge of the universe expanded, so did the territory our adversaries inhabited and aliens and threats from beyond our planet began showing up on our doorstep. And when scientific advancement gave humanity power unlike any it had ever seen in all its time on the planet, the monsters grew powerful too, nourished on new and exotic forms of energy, formidable enough to take out entire cities and bring human civilization to an end.

The Amorphous Lifeform of Unknown Origin and Distinctly Unique Composition was no different. As inexplicable as it seemed, some semblance of meaning had to be ascertained from it.

Dozens of articles, pundits, editorials, and scholarly publications assailed the Life Form with their own interpretations of its meaning. A firebrand with his own talk radio show connected the Amorphous Life Form with the liberal elite, citing its tendency to drain the life out of ordinary, hard working citizens. According to him, the Life Form was a manifestation of the rotten, slimy, blood-sucking intentions of the whole left wing. On the other side of the political spectrum, an environmentalist with a popular blog said the Life Form represented conspicuous consumption and unchecked corporate greed. She even went as far to suggest that maybe humanity deserved to be dissolved by the Amorphous Life Form’s corrosive juices as punishment for our decadent and wasteful lifestyles. An evangelical preacher from the southern United States had a similar view, calling the Amorphous Life Form a form of divine justice upon which all the sin in the world would be punished. If anything was a clear sign of the end times, a continent-sized Amorphous Life Form of Unknown Origin and Distinctly Unusual Composition certainly was.

When the Amorphous Life Form hit the United States and spread its gelatinous mass across much of the Eastern seaboard, outside observers saw it as retribution for the US’s military, economic, and cultural imperialism around the world. Here, they were finally getting a taste of their own medicine in the form of a giant Amorphous Life Form that could be seen from the international space station. Although the metaphor fell apart once the lifeform’s oozing tendrils entered Canada.

Then the prevailing thought on the Amorphous Life Form broke into a myriad of diverse and often contradictory opinions. The Amorphous Life Form became a metaphor for nuclear proliferation, women’s rights, terrorism, religion, daytime TV, alternative energy, and man’s cruelty to his fellow man all at once — depending on who you were listening to and which spheres of the internet you perused.

By the time the Life Form hit South America and consumed the rain forests, ivy league universities were hosting classes debating its true nature. Students wrote tens of thousands of words describing the intellectual symbolism and social context behind what was by far the largest single organism on the entire planet. Some linked the works of Chaucer to the Amorphous Life Form, describing the mass’s unheeding advance around the planet as a pilgrimage not unlike one the characters in The Canterbury Tales undertake. In other departments, they saw clear links between the Amorphous Life Form and midcentury Dadaism. The absurdity of it all, they said. Still others saw the Life Form as having no meaning at all except that which we assign it. Its gooey flesh acted like an imperfect mirror that reflected our deepest fears and desires. It represented something in our subconscious, something that happened in our childhood that we repressed.

But most people just gave up.

Some even offered themselves up willingly to the all-consuming, Amorphous Life Form, convinced of its inevitability — if not its significance.

But most just learned to live with it. It became a fact of life that someday you and your loved ones would be swallowed up by a planet-sized blob. When faced with such an immense and unstoppable crisis, it was only natural to accommodate it into the natural rhythms of day-to-day life. Why fight it when there’s was nothing you could do to stop it? If you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em — right?

Soon nobody questioned the existence of the Amorphous Life Form of Unknown Origin and Distinctly Unusual Composition. Nobody pondered its purpose or debated its motives or planned elaborate schemes to kill it. The Life Form’s gelatinous presence became not only a regular feature of the landscape, it was woven into the very fabric of human experience.

Humanity embraced death by the Amorphous Life Form just as it had ever since the dawn of time. Some cried, some fought, but most just passed away abruptly and without fanfare, surrounded by loved ones, close companions, or all alone.

But whatever the circumstances of their demise, they all came to an end inside the Amorphous Life Form. Time and time again their thoughts circled around the same regrets. If only they had planned better, they could’ve bought themselves enough time to say all the things they had ever wanted to say, do all the things they had ever wanted to do, and given their life that inexplicable semblance of meaning.

But just as civilization dissolved away under the Amorphous Life Form’s corrosive touch, so did many of life’s most persistent questions. A simplification resulted and many people took comfort in this shrinking and increasingly uncomplicated world.

When a child asked why the sky was fleshy pink, his mother could answer quickly and decisively: “Because of the Amorphous Life Form of Unknown Origin and Distinctly Unusual Composition.”

And when he asked a little later on, “Why did Sparky have to die?”

Her answer again could be: “Because of the Amorphous Life Form of Unknown Origin.”

And when he lived long enough to ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” or “Why is life so short?” or “Why didn’t I stop and ask for her number? Why didn’t I tell her how I really felt?” he could remain silent, keeping those questions to himself, as the answer was manifest and dissolved away all doubt.

Watch it here:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store