Once upon a time, there was a world.
It was a world full of magic and wonder, a true work of art. An orb in the sky controlled the movement of the water. Living organisms erupted into colour before they died, leaving their bodies as a blanket of warmth for the source of their life. Two collections of sediment struck together at the right velocity created warmth and light. There were countless other complexities like this within it. One could study it for a lifetime and never be bored.
It was a world where too much was happening in just a second to keep track of. In this world, countless stories died untold.
This world held many life forms. Each creature could only properly communicate with others of its kind, though sometimes, some species almost managed to bridge that gap. Because of this, none of its inhabitants knew its full story.
It was a world of sadness, where some things had to die in order for others to survive.
But mostly, it was a constantly evolving world of beauty. Everything was cyclical, but over time, nothing remained the same.
A particular creature inhabited this world. Their story is the equivalent to a short chapter in a long series of books, but to them, it was the only one that mattered.
Physically, this was a weak creature. They didn’t have much muscle mass, or a protective shell, or claws and teeth sharp enough to defend themselves. Their eyesight and hearing were average at best, and their sense of smell was nearly nonexistent. They had no fur on their bodies to protect them from the cold and rain. Their survival defied all odds.
But as it often is, their greatest weakness was also their greatest strength. They compensated for their physical inaptitude with their intelligence. They used elements of their environment to protect themselves from the weather and other animals, as well as to hunt.
They were an inventive species. Because of their need to rely on their innovation, they threw themselves into creation and transformed the world around them. This was one of their greatest strengths, but also one of their greatest weaknesses. They became so obsessed with their abilities, they stopped believing in anything they hadn’t created.
They wanted more. More territory, more food. They began to believe that they owned the land and could bend it at will. They took more than they needed, convinced that the earth would always provide for them. They took control of their food supply and increased their feelings of invincibility. In their minds, other lives existed for their convenience. Any corner of the world on which they hadn’t left a mark presented itself as a lost opportunity. They had to assert their dominance.
Not all of them were like this. Some were content to belong to the land, to take only what they needed and to let the rest of the world live on. But the others destroyed their ways of life. They justified it in saying that these particular creatures weren’t evolved enough, weren’t fully profiting of the land and were therefore being wasteful. These people had a choice: assimilate or die.
These creatures waged wars against each other as well, justifying their exterminations with the excuse that they needed more land, more resources, for their people. As though there was something that divided them from others of their species. As though they had more of a right to survive. As though they needed more than what they had already taken, abused, and destroyed.
It was a beautiful world, a magical world. And yet, to this creature, it wasn’t enough. They stopped seeing the beauty or practicality in anything they hadn’t created. They didn’t see the purpose to anything that didn’t serve them.
Somehow, through all their progress, they’d lost sight of one of the most basic truths: they belonged to the world. It didn’t belong to them.
They’d pushed their inventive nature too far. The things they created were too damaging and took up too much space, too many resources. They endangered the lives of entire species and justified it by thinking that this was their world, that they had the right to do what they wanted to make it more comfortable for them.
But it wasn’t their world. Their lives weren’t worth more than any other creature’s, any other plant’s. Their comfort certainly wasn’t worth the damage they were inflicting.
They didn’t realize that they couldn’t rely solely on themselves to survive. They needed the world they were destroying, all of it.
How does this story end? Does this species succeed at destroying everything around them? Do they take complete control of the world by annihilating it? Or do they find a way to continue with their endless advancements, forcing the world to adapt to them?
Their story is merely a short chapter. The importance they’d attributed to themselves was misplaced.
Stories of greed rarely let the greedy win. Perhaps this story will be one of redemption. Just as it’s about to go too far, this species learns the errors of their ways, and finally learns to live in harmony with the world rather than taking control of it.
Or perhaps it will end with some sort of poetic justice. How could they destroy an entire world? More likely they only destroy themselves. The world they thought they owned will continue to grow after their disappearance, and their entire existence won’t be remembered.
This story is still being written. The ending depends on what happens next.
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