The Alien in My Headphones

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Digital drawing. Overview of a wooden desktop. Clockwise from top right corner, most of a cup filled with a brown liquid. A cell phone displaying a checklist with a few items checked off. A hand with a bracelet visible, holding a pen perched over a folded-over notebook. A crumpled sticky note. A pair of over-ear headphones. A cylindrical container filled with colored pencils. A partial view of a pair of glasses folded up. A folded-over notebook with notes written on the top half lying over a document affixed with a binder clip holding a note where the sentences are partially visible under the headphones.

I settled the headphones over my ears.  When I inhaled, I felt a little lurch in my stomach.

Every time I turned them on, I was afraid I’d lost the signal.  And every time I turned them on, I was afraid I hadn’t.

This was getting out of hand.  This…investigation that I’d gotten caught up in.  But if it was a prank, it was—I was going to say “epic,” but that word gets overused.  It was…extravagant.

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The Unicellular Detective

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Digital drawing. Cartoon depictions of anthropomorphized unicellular organisms in a line. From left to right, three filaments of cyanobacteria, a Stentor, a paramecium with flagella who’s wearing a fedora, a slime mold, and a dinoflagellate with glasses.

There’s something you should know about me, and it’s not that I’m a plankton.

I mean, aren’t we all?  Plankton, floating around in the great pond.  Except, I don’t just float. 

See, I was born with some pretty powerful flagella.  What is that, you ask?  Flagella, they’re like…like long limbs, protruding from all over my body—hey, don’t make that face, they’re not gross.  At least, my parent told me they’re not.  Some days, I show ‘em.  Most days I don’t.  But they’re not just for show.  See, I’m a paramecium.  We’re only supposed to have cilia, short little hairs that let us kind of get around.  We’re not supposed to have flagella.  They let me do what most plankton can’t do.  They let me decide where I want to go.  Instead of letting the Drift decide for me.

What is the Drift, you ask?  Boy, you multicellular organisms sure are curious.

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