It had been a long swim for Sperm, so his half of the zygote’s chromosomal information was tired – penetration had exhausted him. Egg, on the other hand was restless. She had been approached many times on her one-way trip to the uterus, but had never before been penetrated, and she wanted more…
So their sleep that night was restless.
Finally fusion was complete, and Sperm was lodged firmly and permanently in Egg. They were no longer Sperm and Egg, they had become Zygote; a greater whole than all imaginable halves. They were one cell securely attached to the uterine wall. Desire was ended, competition consummated, they slept, dreaming portentous, single-celled dreams.
Protoplasm splashed up against the cell wall. Pseudopodia reached out into the night. If there had been covers, the might have been kicked off. There was much information to be processed, many decisions to be made, X’s and Y’s to be sorted through.
Morning came and Zygote woke briefly. He had not yet learned to add or subtract, but somewhere in genetic memory he knew that he had to divide before he could multiply: Instinctively he divided, the locus of his identity shifting as he became two, then four cells.
The imperatives of millions of years of evolution weren’t to be denied, s the zygote, now truly an embryo, became a more complex organism, developing the signature oragnelles of his phylogenic ancestors; an amphibious tail which would later regress to form the last vertebra of the spine developed at about three months, then gill slits appeared. He was well adapted to his aquatic habitat and dreamed moist dreams of primeval seas and scaly antecedents.
The embers of limbic consciousness were beginning to glow in ganglion clusters which would become the foundation of Embryo’s brain. A sexual identity emerged and he wondered if he was a sperm dreaming he was a fetus or a fetus dreaming he was a sperm, but at that point it all seemed rather academic. There were still eyes to be dotted and toes to be crossed, and all the fine little hairs of his mammalian ancestors to be distributed over his smooth developing epidermis.
When the contractions finally started, the dreamer was ready. He thrashed like a tiny sperm swimming through thick vaginal fluids up to the womb, but now he was headed downstream. Extreme compression galvanized his epidermis and viscous fluids flowed from his lungs as he was expelled into a dazzling brightness peopled with huge white-clad forms.
He coughed liquid and gasped air, experiencing the first non-aquatic moment of his existence. The fetus was a baby. They he slept again.
When he awoke he was alone. The reassuring throb of pulse and heart all around had been replaced by silence, broken only by sporadic wailing that tore at Baby’s young psychic fabric. It was the wail of others of his kind awakening from their own billion-year dreams.
The pulsing womb was now just a memory of lost unity, a throb within his heaving chest. It had been a rude awakening, a sad ending to the dream of eons.
Reaching back deep into phylogenic memory, Baby thrust out a pseudopod, a fin, an arm, and rolled helplessly onto his side. The unrelenting vista of unrelenting identical barred containers – cribs – time capsules for the return of captured time-travelers, receptacles for a planet’s most complex progeny.
An unfamiliar throb of panic pulsed in Baby’s chest. He felt truly alone for the first time. Sensations of separation cycled through his freshly myelin zed cerebellum, in search of translation and further interpretation.
The memories of an age of plurality were truncated, left echoing in his cells. But those reverberations launched his still dormant frontal cortex in search of his past, his future, and an ultimate reunion.
Baby caught the eye of his nearest neighbor, a fleshy pink creature, like himself, tucked under a white blanket. Mustering his strength he coughed up a little mucus, and paraphrased the immortal Yogi Berra: “It’s kinda like ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny all over again, ain’t it?”
A curious far away look passed over his companion as she considered the levels of redundancy in his comment.
“Yes, kinda,” she returned thoughtfully then rolled over nodding off to sleep.