(Endless) Intervention


In my new book, which at the moment I’m calling Endless (but will probably be called something different later), there are some little bits at the beginning where you get to see some of the guerrilla activities of the people in the community called Endless.  A sort of genetic intervention, if you will, one small thing among a string of them, trying to save the world, little bit by little bit.  This one is titled “Inoculation.”

The wind in the corn is loud as the young woman kneels over the shallow hole scratched in the dirt, her whispering a soft susurration under the clatter of leaves against stalk.  The tiny thing in her hand kicks and then dies, its blood leaking out into the soil.

“Fly away home,” she says again, “Fly away home,” and lays the body out carefully in the hole where the flies will find it, help broadcast the genes.  It lies there, small whiskers quiet, eyes shut.  Her plastic gloves squeak as she opens a jar, laying a circle of lumpy milk solids around the edges of the hole, blowing dark hair out of her eyes as she does so.

“Blood for purity,” she says, “Milk for life.”

There is a shudder and then hypha begin threading quickly outward from the ring.  A bloom of white coats the ground, spreading fast.  Shakily, she screws the lid back on the yogurt jar and steps away, stopping only to wipe the blood off her little knife on some leaves.  The mycelia is heading underground now, carrying genetic agents from the blood to the corn plants.
It’s time to go.

She puts the knife and the gloves into an oiled-silk bag in her purse and begins to run back toward the highway and her backpack, where an old van will be by soon to pick her up.  Behind her, the wave of mycelia builds, rolling outward through the dirt of the field, delivering its payload; and the corn receives it, waiting to do its job, inoculating another thousand or so people against the latest wave of sickness sweeping the nation.

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