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Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Karnot propped up his tired old body with his cane and quietly watched as a group of parents showed their children how to dig a small irrigation ditch. On most days a sight such as that would be enough to move the otherwise stalwart man to tears.  The 66-year-old Karnot had lost his only child, and now it was far too late for him to have another. For a man in his twilight years, it was a very lonely apocalypse. It would all die with him.
But this time watching the process of one generation passing on knowledge to the next quelled his sadness. The old pioneer may not have carried his genes into the cosmos, but he could be sure he was leaving a hard fought for legacy.
The survival of any species is never more than a numbers game. Life, especially in it’s more complex forms is exceedingly fragile. Matter will only take on consciousness for the briefest of periods before entropy tears the physical form apart and scatters the pieces into oblivion. Make as many copies as you can as quickly as you can. That is life’s chief directive.
The eternal void of space is even less forgiving than the cruel and indifferent Gai, but it was in this cold emptiness humanity was forced to find it’s new home and when these pioneers set off they knew almost none of them would make it.
The cosmic refugees crowded into the titanium ships had no destination. There were no known planets that could support human life. It seemed a hopeless situation, but the only thing that stands between life and extinction is chance. Once they were free from the bonds of their celestial mother, the humans spread across the vast emptiness like spores looking for a host.
Karnot and his followers spent nearly three years floating through eternity just hoping they would be lucky enough to find a planet to settle.
The minuscule blue orb appeared in the darkness with a flash. There was only green and brown blemish on the water, and that’s where Karnot put the ship down. Just as miraculously as the appearance of the planet was how hospitable a place it was.
The atmosphere was stable and the climate steady. The solitary island the observers saw from space was the only land on the entirety of the planet. In spite of these fortunes settled human life got off to a tenuous start at best, but after ten grueling years, a kind of stasis had been achieved.
Karnot put down his cane and sat in the long shadow of the derelict spaceship they’d arrived on a decade ago. The mighty vessel would never fly again. It was a relic from a bygone age. A slowly decaying reminder of a time and place destined to be forgotten by a growing population of settlers who never once in their lives set eyes on Earth. Ironically mastery of interstellar travel had taken the human race back to a purer state of being, a way of life only their most distant ancestors would have had any conception of.
“In the end, we wound up right back where we started,” Karnot muttered.
“Good day Karnot,” a friendly voice said snapping Karnot out of his quiet contemplation.
“Oh, good day to you to Nicholas,” Karnot said to the thin-haired middle-aged man standing over him.
“Mind if I join you?” Nicholas asked.
“Not at all,” Karnot smiled.
Nicholas let out a groan as he planed himself in the grass next to the old-timer. The two men sat quietly for a moment before Karnot asked: “Do you realize we’ve been here ten years?”
“I try not to think about it too much,” Nicholas murmured.
“Do you regret it?” Karnot asked.
Nicholas was quiet for a moment. “I’m sad for what we left behind, but I don’t think I could ever regret being alive.”
“Good answer,” Karnot grinned. “I think it’s important for people to keep track of milestones like that. I don’t have long left, and before you know it, you’ll be as old as me. We’re going to have to decide what the next generation remembers about our history and how they interpret and learn from those memories.”
“I’d agree with that,” said Nicholas.
“We’re the founding fathers of the new human race. It’s important we act the part,” Karnot said in a voice trembling with conviction.
The high pitched screams of children filled the air and Nicholas jumped to his feet.
“What’s happening?” Karnot asked as he struggled to pull himself up.
Nicholas raced for the shore while Karnot lagged behind. When they reached the beach, they saw dozens of helpless people watch as the sea water swirled around the island. The foaming water suddenly started ascending as if it was circling a drain. The children fighting to stay above the water were sucked below as trillions of gallons of water disappeared into a growing chasm. As the sea emptied the terrain below the water was exposed. The sea floor was a pulsating fleshy mass that opened up into a black hole filled with a million jagged teeth.
The island was just the tip of a horrible jagged spire of blood-engorged flesh. Slowly it started dragging the island down into the gnashing teeth, and the last of the human race was devoured by the continental-sized mouth.
Once the cosmic monster was done feeding the waters returned and the island tipped tongue emerged from the sea and the great beast was once again ready to patiently wait for another meal.

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