The Hemadip: Wendig Challenge
This week’s challenge was to create a monster. I’m not sure the hemadip I’ve created counts, at least not in the story here, which, let’s be honest, is not really a story so much as some sort of glorified Wikipedia entry. I had a hard time with this prompt. Next time you come across a leech in the wild, I hope this little vignette crosses your mind.
Story after the break:
The hemadip crawled up back into its place just behind its carrier’s knee. It had seen enough from beneath the pant hem to be assured that the carrier was going the right direction. While it could have taken over and become the host consciousness, this one was far too old to effectively control. The older they were, the more likely they were to be able to resist simply because of how full their brains were, and how long they’d been developing since their first hemadip encounters as youngsters. No, it was the younger ones, the ones still in the nursery, which were this hemadip’s goal.
The hemadip was careful to keep out of sight. When you superficially resembled the brainless leeches that lived in damp grasses and leafy bushes in the tropics, there were some negative feelings about you, too. Such revulsion sort of came with the territory.
The primary motivation for such antipathy was the matter of food, that being blood, which hemadips and their look-alikes both fed upon. No creatures particularly cared for the sight of blood or the idea that there were other entities which consumed the essential humor necessary for life. Even the hemadips themselves were not proud of this limitation, but eternal life and advanced consciousness required energy, and bodily humors were good sources of such energy.
Next there was simple appearance: segmented worms evoked primal human fears, just as they did for all lower-order lifeforms. As life evolved over the 4 billion years it had existed on Earth, much of it was spent as single-celled organisms, many of which took on the overall shape that segmented worms now had, mostly because of hemadip interference. This long-lasting presence shaped all later creatures to regard such creatures with loathing. This inborn distrust of the shape is why certain human religions chose it to demonize, although they incorrectly considered it to be a serpent.
Last, and not least, there was deliberate revulsion instilled by a hemadip’s fluids shortly before dropping from a host and seeking out a new one. After all, hemadips did not want to alert humans to the nature of higher consciousness. That is to say, all intelligence on Earth rested upon a hemadip’s chemical awakening of sentience and the grooming necessary to shape that sentience into true autonomy.
Of course hemadip was not what they would have called themselves had they a complex language of their own rather than chemical excretions, but it was the name they’d plucked from the growing human lexicon when they found hosts. The term Haemadipsidae described the biting land leeches, but the hemadips felt as though their appearance matched the human description well enough, and when they shared chemicals in passing, that was the word that passed between them.
For millions of years the hemadips had attempted to create the sapience that humans were just now approaching. In just a year or so, the high end humans would discover the hemadips, and that would be the end of the creatures, something they looked to both with relish and despair.The single-celled organisms that hemadips first encountered when the crust cooled enough for them to awaken from their asteroid slumber were merely self-reproducing gas feeders. It had taken many eons to finally guide those cells into the complex form of humanity, and all that time in guidance was exhausting. It would finally be time to rest. They just had to make sure the humans made it past the robot singularity first.
And so this hemadip was on its way, inside the pant leg of a pediatrician, to the hospital ward where newborns rested. It was sure that some of its long-lived kin were already inside, each attached to its own host, but maternity wards were busy places, and there were always new humans to enlighten.