In the current Epoch of Ibycus, the flounder wanders the fluid byways. Although he did not choose to spend the epoch in this form, he rollicks in all of its wonders and in the ripe benefits of marine life on Zelus. The flounder has previously existed in all possible forms and through the totality of epochs – the infinite millennia of existence. In the instant form, he remembers the whole of his incarnations, but his memory does not function in the way of a typical Zelusian, not like the Stick Walkers who wear their memory as a cloak and spend entire decades in contemplation. No, the flounder flows about his thoughts in an internal ribbon that streams and pools. He can access the entirety at once and without effort, an ability he has won through his deeds in prior epochs.
The current age of peace succeeded one of heroism, the Epoch of Pyrrhus, during which the flounder and all of Zelus faced a scourge unlike any that had previously slobbered across the planet. Once the scourge arrived from a planet called Earth, the Zelusian warriors of every discipline rallied. Their valiance was astonishing to behold. Flipping back and forth through the folded time spaces, no one could succeed in finding a comparable level of heroic activity in prior or future epochs. Most heroic of all efforts in this most heroic of epochs had been those of the flounder. During the Epoch of Pyrrhus, the flounder was not in fish form, but presented as an upright, female Medicine Warrior – those great kindred who fight the sorrow and burn the depths. The Zelusians called her Rhea. Throughout her life, Rhea had trained to battle Epidemic as all Medicine Warriors had at the Omphalos of Knowledge. She had learned the retiform containment procedures, the eradication protocols, and the isolation methods. During her studies, she invented a process of infection disintegration that continues in use to this day. She excelled equally at both segregational solitude and the songbird factor, demonstrating a versatility beyond the norm. Her skills at bacterial shunning and viral mocking could not be matched. In addition to her scholarly excellence, she had unique gifts for both emotional deceleration and cellular polishing. This combination of natural and learned skills would prove essential to the survival of Zelus.
Of course, no one expected the scourge. None of the Prophecy Finders, Stellar Speakers, or Dream Soothers had anticipated it. In fact, during all of their travels into the pockets of the universe, no Zelusian had so much as given a passing glance at the planet called Earth. Certainly, by the Pyrrhus Epoch, they would not have noticed the formerly blue marble orbiting its fading star because it had become a detritus planet and was, thus, unremarkable. The capsule of scourge-ridden Earthlings arrived early one half-day. Most Zelusians were preparing for a sleep spurt and did not notice the atmospheric disturbance caused by the wayward craft. However, the Sky Keepers observed the Earthlings the very moment they broke through the penumbra of the dazzling Zelusian atmosphere. Though ninety percent of Zelus was water in that epoch, the capsule had descended upon a firm, pyroclastic island region. A diligent, methodical, and peaceable group, the Zelusian Stick Walkers brigade arrived at the crash site with only mental and verbal armaments. They greeted the survivors, mentally probing their medium-sized middle regions for biological data, and found pulsating rhythm in the chest cavities, light nodes stretching throughout the frames, and impulses mixed with panic-laced information at the uppermost region of the frame that Zelusians call the Pin. In the genetic and perceptive codes of the Earthlings, they detected an unsettling stuttering. As the Earthlings writhed about and emitted noise from their Pins in an attempt to communicate their horror, the Zelusians realized that the Earthlings had brought destruction with them. Even as they summoned the Medicine Warriors they could feel the dispiriting effects of the scourge as it visibly affected the atmosphere, causing the light to shift from a warm amber to a pale chartreuse that swept towards the penumbra.
Rhea’s instincts moved her to call for the time tube to halt as the Medicine Warriors neared the scene. On their approach, she observed with her keen senses that the motions of the creatures were unhealthy and that the light was positively putrid. Some of the Stick Walkers had fallen and appeared pinguid as they clutched at their middles and Pins. With authority, she ordered containment procedure codes Athos through Myconus, and she and her team immediately commenced infection disintegration. Despite the quick response, the scourge escaped, suffusing emotionally across Zelus. Though Rhea and her team were able to institute cellular evaporation of the Earthlings, their scourge battled the inhabitants of Zelus with all the desperation and intention of a species clutching at life.
Much of the Epoch of Pyrrhus passed in mental and emotional anguish for the Zelusians who did not immediately degenerate from the scourge. The kindred mourned with little or no time for exequies, settling for rapid cellular reduction in most instances to avoid contamination. However, newly-Pinned kin arrived with innate immunity, strengthening the kindred emotionally as well as biologically. Many Stick Walkers braved the chartreuse expanses to reach kin in need, even unfamiliar kin. The planetary hue improved in delicate, lacewing increments, but it sometimes seemed as though the scourge would span the epoch and beyond. Even the Medicine Warriors would despair at times, but Rhea with her natural empowerment molecules and confidence vibrations ensured that they would not let down their guard. She shimmered at the other warriors; their thoughts would calm. Eradication Protocol Colossus, bolstered by Rhea’s emotional deceleration method, turned out to be the key. As soon as the Medicine Warriors crossed thought streams in proper emotional deceleration technique, Colossus engaged, shaking the foundations of the scourge. The scourge appeared to tire, exhaust, shudder. When Rhea detected that the atmosphere flickered from its pallid hue to a robust burnt umber, softly fading to a healthy amber, she set herself to cellular polishing of the entire kindred until she exhausted to zero energy.
The other Medicine Warriors last saw Rhea in the Cleansing Room, bursting with light. They felt cleansed like newly-Pinned kin and that emotion unfolded across Zelus in backwards origamic fashion. Rhea’s last shared thought was one word: eudaemonia.
In this Epoch of Ibycus, the flounder always moves along the bottom of the fluid byways of Zelus. He floats and hops the current, glittering as he remembers everything that ever happened.
Jacqueline M. Pérez, someone who spends her days talking, writing, and digging in the dirt, has been published in the inaugural issue of The Brasilia Review and in theNewerYork’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature.