We have no idea how it ultimately started, or where it may have come from, or why it is here now, but we are learning bit by bit. Like so many things that change our way of thinking, and even our way of life, for better or for worse, it began very small, but grew very quickly, until it couldn’t help but be noticed. Perhaps it’s best to start at the beginning.
It was a normal day in a normal city. Winter was ending, and the snow thawed and ran off into the drains, and some of the drains sent the water back up again. A truck, laden with deliveries skidded around a corner that was more slick than the driver first thought, and some of his load came off the back. Boxes fell to the street and burst apart sending their contents flying. Among them was a package of business cards that had been miscut or misprinted, on their way to a company that used them to take notes on. The cards spread along the street. Many flew off in the wind, but a number collected by a drain, and got moistened by the water running by.
The driver got out of the truck and surveyed the damage. “Oh man, I hope nothing broke or the boss is gonna kill me.” He collected the scattered boxes and let out a joyful shout at finding the contents still intact. He was lucky it was a quiet time of day, or the street would be busy, but he was able to gather up everything except the stray cards. He went over to the drain to figure out how many he might have lost, when he saw several of them moving. Not flowing with the water toward the grating, but almost crawling away from it and out of the current. The damp cards writhed and twisted themselves in a manner that could not be caused by the wind. It was as if some unseen hand was shaping them, like an origami master shapes his papers into wondrous sculptures. Several cards came together and wrapped themselves into a shape, like a three dimensional diamond with all its points cut off. It took some time before anyone was able to identify the shape as a mecon. Once the cards had assembled the form, it just sat there. The truck driver muttered how weird that was and reached out to pick up the small form, and it rolled away from his hand. One of the cards near the top of the structure Had only a clear exclamation mark emblazoned on it.
The driver chased the form a little ways, but it moved faster than him, and was able to squeeze through a tiny opening and elude him. He ran back to his truck and called his office and the police. He was laughed at by both. This was the first sighting of the MeconoMorph.
The next sighting was at a Chamber of Commerce networking meeting. A lot of business cards were exchanged at them, and of course a number found their ways to the floor or the garbage cans. One young lady, Ruby Flipsen, was passing out cards introducing her as a web design professional, hoping to get a few names of places that could use her services. Unfortunately the crowd wasn’t really interested, and she was getting pretty dejected when she saw several of her cards discarded in the trash. Then she saw the papers in the can begin to shift around as if something was under them. She was worried it might be a rat or something, but then a collection of business cards, including one of hers with “I bring your vision to life” in gold lettering rose to the top. She stared at the cards, more curious than nervous as they tried to crawl out of the can. Now the mobile collection consisted of two mecons joined together. It was having an awful time getting out, so she reached in and picked it up. It quivered in her hands as she set it down on the floor. Once on a firm surface, it seemed to survey its new surroundings, and on seeing it was free to move about once again, it rolled over until a card reading “Thank you for your consideration” was near the top, then shuffled off down the hallway. There were a few shrieks, and several shutter clicks from camera phones as the object raced toward the building exit. With amateur photographic and video evidence, the authorities began to take a bit more notice, and interviewed everyone who had seen the object, including Ruby. When asked why she had handled it and set it loose on the floor, she said it simply seemed the courteous thing to do.
The MeconoMorph was spotted over the next several weeks, usually in print shops where cards would end up discarded or left unattended on floors, tables and shelves. It would attempt to to gather enough material to form another mecon at each location and then leave. More often than not it was caught on late night security cameras, but occasionally a person would come back early from a lunch break and see the thing scuttling across the floor. After repeated sightings and repeated video evidence, authorities decided that this thing had to be contained, and possibly destroyed if it represented a threat.
As a result, the next night, local police and soldiers from a local base were spread out to locate the MeconoMorph’s feeding site for the night. One fortunate group saw it enter a print shop, and put the call out. By the time it finished and exited, it was effectively surrounded. At this time, it consisted of a collection of ten mecons, and due to its size, had a difficult time losing itself. The chase was on. If fled down an alley, but was chased by a number of assailants. They did not open fire at that time, but the creature was clearly concerned for its safety by the speed it exited the scene. It demonstrated an ability to reconfigure its structure to create ‘limbs’ as needed, but with only ten sections that ability was of limited use. As it exited an alley into a larger street, disaster struck. A small group of firemen had been called in, and one was waiting and turned a hose on it. The spray hit hard, and saturated the cards that made up its form making them unsuitable to keep it moving. As a last attempt at escape, it shifted that already soaked segments to protect the remaining sturdy ones and released them. With the added speed of a smaller form it was able to escape into a crack in a wall and flee the scene. The military collected the soaked cards for study, while the police and firemen combed the streets for the creature. It was not found at that time, for reasons which would later become clear.
Back at the base, government scientists, with a certain amount of bemusement, studied the drying business cards. They quickly lost their condescension as test after test was done, revealing that the business cards, while no longer alive, had been substantially altered from their time incorporated into the MeconoMorph’s body. Whatever started the process had rendered the cards into living tissue somehow. They found samples of a structure much like DNA, although it was alien with no bases that were found in Earth life. The cards had taken on some qualities of reptile scales, although still made of a paper like material. They found structures in the paper cellular structure that seemed to hold samples of various dyes used in printing processes. They concluded that the design of the cards within the creature’s body would no longer be static; that each card-scale could be rewritten as the creature wished. Some sort of defensive adaptation they agreed. The higher-ups were impressed by their revelations, but their work, while important, would soon be overshadowed by someone who had early on taken a different approach with the MeconoMorph.
Ruby was sitting at home, working on a web design commission she had picked up from the grandmother of one of her friends. The lady wanted a pretty simple web site to show off pictures of her grandkids, but was worried about using Facebook since she’d heard a lot of bad things. Most of them weren’t true, but a more personal site could give more personal touches, and arguing with people about these kind of stories was about as useful as screaming at a street sign. She had gotten the main structure of the site set up, and only had some detail work left when she took a break. I was about 3 am and the sky was still dark. Ruby preferred being a night owl, which was one reason she wanted to be her own boss and do computer work. The computer doesn’t care what time you turn it on and off. As she got some water from the kitchen, she heard a soft tapping at the window. She opened the blind, and found several business cards staring back at her. One of them read “Thank you for your consideration” several times on its surface.
Ruby hesitated for a moment, but finally opened the window and watched the thing crawl inside. She felt a bit nervous, but assuming this was the same thing she met at the Chamber of Commerce, it was probably no more interested in hurting her now than then. The way it was shaking, it almost seemed scared of her. She closed the window before a sudden gust blew the poor thing across the room.
“Well…this is sort of strange for me. I don’t usually host business cards as guests.” She smiled at it as she said this. “So…what do you want?”
The card that previously had “Thank you for your consideration” wavered and the text changed to a quote from one of her favorite books, “Business is business and business must grow.”
“Huh…so you want to grow huh? And you do that by adding business cards to yourself?”
The text changed to “You asked for it, you got it!”
“Wow. Well, I don’t have too many cards around, but maybe I could go around to some places and get some old ones, or miscuts or something. Huh, I might even be able to make a little business out of it. Pick up old cards for a small fee. You’d probably get lots of new cards from that.”
A huge “YAY!” appeared on the front card.
“So…how did you find me here?”
The front card changed to an exact replica of one of hers.
“Oh, you can read the cards that make you up?”
The card remained stable for a moment, then started writing. It was in small script, and eventually spread to other cards on its surface. “Cards hold dreams. Everyone that touches one leaves a small imprint. I understand them, and I learn to understand you. More cards means more body, and more understanding. I want to let the sacred needs come out through me, so you can understand each other more. Please help me.”
“Oh wow, this is a lot to take in. You seem nice enough though. And how much harm could something made of business cards do, right? Ok, I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you for your consideration.”
In the days that followed, Ruby went out and bought, begged and actually got paid by a few places to take away old cards, badly printed or cut cards, and any others that were to be discarded. A lot of places were glad to get rid of them without having to dump them in the trash or recycling containers. The MeconoMorph grew quickly, although it seemed to only be able to add new segments at a certain rate. Three per day seemed to be its limit. After that Ruby would see “I feel full now.” and it wouldn’t take in any more.
During their time together, Ruby talked with the MeconoMorph. She called it Morphy and it seemed to like having a name. From what she gathered, it wasn’t really sure about its own origins, in fact it wasn’t until it had collected its second segment that it really became aware of itself. That must have been its critical mass for collected ideas and dreams to become self-aware. Now that it had, it wanted to understand people more, and share people’s hopes and dreams so they could understand each other. It didn’t feed on the cards as Ruby had first thought. With its pigment structures it could manufacture Chlorophyll for photosynthesis. It seemed to learn that from the material the cards have once been.
Morphy was essentially harmless, although if it really worked at it, it might be able to give someone a nasty papercut. It didn’t eat anything, it didn’t produce any dangerous waste products. It could learn quickly; Ruby even wondered if it could pick up other languages through business cards printed in them, and imprinted with thoughts from other parts of the world. I just wanted to do its part to make things better.
Of course, Morphy’s convalescence was not destined to last forever. Someone tipped the government off about a person suddenly buying business cards, and Ruby’s website offering collection services for old unused cards made it easy to trace.
A pounding on the door woke her, which was followed by “Open up, this is the Police!”
Morphy was shaking, and Ruby quickly opened the window. “Run for it!”
Morphy sat for a moment. “No. I am too big to escape and I don’t want to sacrifice any of myself to escape. I also don’t want you to get hurt so I can escape and live on the run. Maybe this way, I can make them understand. Please let them in.”
Ruby did as she was asked, and a couple of police and several more soldiers entered her apartment. Morphy was getting quite big now, over fifteen segments long. “Please don’t hurt me. I don’t think I could harm you if I wanted, and I don\t. I just want to share dreams, so others can see them and make them come true.”
Everyone except Ruby was surprised at Morphy’s writing ability. They said that they didn’t want to hurt it either, and that they just wanted to be sure it wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Morphy agreed to go back to the base with the soldiers, and Ruby was asked to accompany them, as a newly found expert on Morphy. She hesitated but finally agreed so she wouldn’t be separated from the being she found she had come to care deeply for.
Back at the base, various experts poked and prodded at Morphy, as much as a creature made of card stock can be poked and prodded. They also spent a lot of time talking with Morphy, and made sure it got enough sunlight to be comfortable. After taking some blood samples and collecting some dead skin, hair and nail samples from Ruby, they determined that she was not contaminated by anything, and that Morphy was not much of a threat to anyone.
With Morphy’s intentions and desires clear, it was decided that it would be best for everyone to give Morphy a place to live. A nice hill was chosen and a large greenhouse constructed to give Morphy lots of space to grow, and to display his thoughts, and the thoughts, hopes and dreams from the cards that made him up. A mail drop was set up to send business cards to become a part of Morphy, and Ruby was given the job of coordinating their collection and addition to Morphy.
As Morphy grew he became able to add more new segments to himself in a day so his ability to share people’s hopes and dreams expanded. Of course any living thing has certain characteristics, and thus far Morphy had not demonstrated the means to reproduce. That may change any day now, as Morphy has been saying that he feels a few of his segments are developing minds of their own, and may soon be ready to bud off, and form MeconoMorphs of their own. Someday, we may see MeconoMorphs in every city showing off the dreams of people from around the world. Morphy and Ruby may be responsible for a new era of human understanding. And to think, it all started with a few business cards, and a small show of compassion.
© copyright Colin Neilson & Viktor G. All rights reserved.
The concept of the MeconoMorph is © copyright Viktor G and used here with his permission.