“Tisvin Keeps Screaming” by Filip Wiltgren
“You have to stop.” Tisvin’s thought caresses your deepest mind. “You are my brood-brother, but you have to stop.”
“I will,” you promise, but you don’t.
Humans are delicious. You can’t explain it to Tisvin, even though you have tried.
“Get rid of them,” Tisvin sends. But how can you do away with such wonderful creatures, that take pieces of your self and extend it into the air?
“They are filthy,” Tisvin says. “They bore into you, contaminate you with their refuse, use up your heavy nuclei for their own purposes. Will they even care when your core lies cold and dead beneath them?”
You try to explain the feeling of being bored into, the joy of rapid shifting strata, the warmth of nuclear detonations. Tisvin is silent for a long time after that.
“Do you enjoy their presence?” Tisvin asks.
“You are addicted to them,” Tisvin says.
The thought is forceful, piercing you to your iron core. “We have spoken.” Multiple brothers, a whole cluster of them, speaking in Tisvin’s voice.
“You will remove the parasites, or they will be removed for you.”
You can feel the broods’ disgust. It is like a meteor shower on unprotected mantle, hurtful but ultimately futile. Their other threat isn’t.
“Let me at least say goodbye,” you beg, and the cluster splinters, the cluster’s unified thought cracking into individual voices, arguing for and against. Tisvin is for, and you are grateful for that luck. It will be Tisvin who will purge the humans. None of the others are able to touch you.
Comets move, dragged from their orbits into new, vastly more rapid ones, falling towards your birther furnace. Falling towards you.
“Stop,” you say, but Tisvin does not stop. Tisvin pulls, showers of particles emanating from Tisvin’s skin, hauling on the comets.
“Please,” you say. “An impact will breach me.”
“You are already breached,” Tisvin says. In the far darkness of space, you can hear the echo of the cluster thinking Tisvin’s thoughts.
“No,” you say, “I will not allow it.”
You exert yourself, pushing against Tisvin’s pull, pulling against Tisvin’s push. The comets crack, shatter, zip by, flaring your atmosphere into brilliant streaks.
“It is for your own good,” Tisvin says. Tisvin is farther out than you, closer to the shattered remnants of Zusk. Able to pull on the pieces of Zusk, send them hurling towards you.
“Please,” you say. “I will let them go.”
Tisvin stops pulling, but new, larger comets are already spinning their way towards you.
You are addicted. You admit as much to yourself, shielding your thoughts beneath seas of boiling magma. You like being addicted. You like your humans, like the feeling of drills biting into your skin, of fires burning your shell, of miniature volcanoes spreading carbon into the outer layers of your atmosphere. No other life is like them, not the slow life of your brothers, nor the other fast life sheltering on your skin. You like the sparks spearing away from you, thin-skinned human comets carrying their cargo beyond your gravity well.
You like your humans. You enjoy your humans. You wish they’d drill through your mantle, dip into your glowing magma.
Tisvin does not understand any of that. Tisvin does not have any pests. Nothing moves on Tisvin but what Tisvin wills. Nothing affects Tisvin but what Tisvin wills.
Your plates crack with glee. Tisvin wants to take away your tiny motiles, but you know what to do.
You enter the miniature thinkers the humans make. They are made from pieces of your mantle, melted as you melt in your core. Twisting their silicon minds is easy. They are as much part of you as the humans are not.
Your voice makes the humans cringe and cower. They hole themselves, spilling their tiny, cold, iron-rich magma on your skin. They try to burn you, but only manage to burn themselves. The nuclear fires warm you, make your skin flow again, annihilating humans. Still, some of them remain. Some of them listen.
Together, you build the ark.
“What are you doing?” says Tisvin. The thought is cold and distant. You have almost forgotten what it is like to be slow.
“Saying goodbye,” you say.
“Good,” says Tisvin.
You flood your mantle with globs of titanium and aluminum, silica and plutonium. The humans scavenge, heat, hammer and beat. The ark takes shape. Below your crust, other humans hide from the destruction they’ve inflicted upon themselves. Their drills carving into you are delicious.
“What are you doing?” says Tisvin. The thought is hot and distrustful. And slow, so slow. Thinking at the speed of the universe, not the speed of silicon.
“I am coming,” you say.
You send your humans caves filled with condensed hydrogen, and watch them take off.
“We are coming,” you say to Tisvin.
The comets zip and zag, slow, so slow. The humans vaporize them with fire from their rockets. Their ships approach, slow, land. Their drills bite into red sand.
You are together, yet distant, same yet different. Your mantle flares with nuclear activity, a scratching, burning, fiery sensation. Your humans dig through you, excavating, a rasping, moving sensation.
Tisvin’s humans dig, flare hydrogen and oxygen into Tisvin’s atmosphere, extract heat and radioactives from Tisvin’s core, crash globes of ammonia into Tisvin’s surface.
“Feel,” you say gently, “feel.”
But Tisvin keeps screaming.
By day, Filip Wiltgren is a mild-mannered communication officer at Linköping University, where he also teaches communication and presentation skills at a postgraduate level. But by night, he turns into a frenzied ten-fingered typist, clawing out jagged stories of fantasy and science fiction, which have found lairs in places such as Analog, IGMS, Grimdark, Daily SF, and Nature Futures. Filip roams the Swedish highlands, kept in check by his wife and kids. He can be found at http://www.wiltgren.com
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