Digestion: a Fable

Digestion: a Fable

There were ways to compete against the other carniflora for the hairy, moist morsels of the jungle. Sickly scents that proved fruit was nearby. Drowning rivals of sunlight. Sending vines to strangle acidic gullets, keeping four-legs from falling in.

Though there were better ways.

Gera sensed a two-legged creature’s arrival. Every footfall was a new earthy pulse. And with the pulse was a vibration that showed Gera the Above.

Does one come? the Central Root asked Gera. Like the other Mouths, Gera saw the world for the Central Root—and ate for it, too.

It comes, Gera said.

A young two-leg, face cloaked in honey, wandered to the Place. That’s what Gera knew it to be, but the two-legs certainly had their own name for it. It was a clearing in the foliage that had been trampled by other two-legs who’d come before.

Other than honey, the two-leg wore nothing. Red mounds and cuts covered his exposed skin. His eyes were weary.

Past the clearing was Gera’s maw, with toothed jaw halves that retracted under the soil. Below the mouth was the esophageal corridor that led to the digestive bell. There, the tremors triggered a groan, the bell filling with acidic juices in preparation.

As he came to the lip of Gera’s hole, the two-leg himself trembled, pulled his arm to his face, bending over. He backed away, then after a time came forward to look down inside Gera. Peering down the gullet, the two-leg stood straight.

Do you expect it to talk? the Central Root asked Gera.

I do, Gera answered.

As Gera suspected, the two-leg did speak, at first slowly but then with a building cadence. His voice had a weak timbre, unpleasing to Gera but not painful. He spoke while raising his arms to point to the jungle, perhaps to the Yield, perhaps to the other two-legs.

Then, he started crying. Many cried before entering Gera. He cried a little longer, but then he overcame the feeble mind his hairy body provided. After the two-leg jumped, Gera’s jaws closed shut, and the two-leg fell in darkness.

Two-legs never anticipated the long fall into the digestive bell, nor the pain of the acid that rested in Gera. They screamed on the way down and they screamed as they emulsified within. The timbre of their screams was a welcome vibration that, to Gera, was pleasing.


Communion, the Central Root said.

I am there, Gera said back.

As Gera digested, its mind drifted away from the Above and to the Below. Coursing down the minor roots into the soil, Gera felt the stir of the other Mouths. Soon, it was fully joined to the Central Root.

Gera, are you digesting? said the Central Root.

I am, Gera said back.

This is good. Secrete and send the Yield. The two-legs will enjoy.

Gera concentrated, and from its mind-root generated a warm, viscous solution. Gera then expelled the liquid into a network of other roots that led towards a field by the two-leg village. It was there the Yield sprouted when the two-legs were obedient to the Central Root.

It is done.

Gera felt the hum of the Mouths. It felt the vibrations through the roots and dizzied. As the Central Root moved to address the others, Gera submitted, its mind-root growing dark for hibernation.


Gera came to consciousness after twelve cycles. It opens its jaw halves, releasing a plume of decomposed matter. Gera sensed that its digestive bell was empty, only semi-full of juice. The two-leg was gone, passed on to the Central Root.

Without a two-leg to digest, Gera could only wait and hope that the Yield’s offering had been good.

In the Above, Gera sensed the jungle stir, with slithers of primitive carniflora. They’d taken care of all the four-legs.

Gera expected within a short time that a new two-leg would arrive, to speak in vibrations, to jump in. The many digestion periods that had come before—at least all those Gera could recall—moved quickly to the next. Gera gleaned that those who sent the two-legs, who gave to the Central Root for the Yield, were consistent.

So Gera waited. Specks of dirt fell into its gullet from time to time.

In waiting, it would converse with the Central Root, which had greater senses than all.

The spirit is in our many, the Central Root would say.

And the other Mouths and Gera would hum. The call-and-response would occur for whole nights.

The spirit is in our many.

What else, Gera thought, could give it pleasure that the Central Root couldn’t?


After a series of hums carried Gera through one particular night, the vibrations of the stirring morning creatures followed, capturing a rippling view of the Above. Gera did not doubt a two-leg would emerge from the edge of the Place. It was imperative to the Central Root.

But no two-leg showed.

Then the night: The spirit is in our many.

Gera did not doubt.

Then the night, again: The spirit is in our many.

Gera could not doubt.

Then a third night: The spirit is in our many.

But Gera felt a painful tremor in its digestive bell. It could not feel its esophageal corridor. When the Central Root addressed Gera, its voice was a sharp boom in Gera’s mind-root:

Does your Yield turn a bounty? the Central Root asked.

Gera hesitated. No, Gera said back.

The other Mouths did not respond but hummed.

Should the Yield turn no bounty, the Central Root said, be prepared to be released.

Gera’s mind-root flinched. It did not understand the feelings that resulted, but they were worse than the weakness in its digestive bell.

It shall be done if it is Your resolve, Gera said. And silent in the jungle, Gera prayed.


Does a two-leg come? asked the Central Root.

Through humid clouds of jungle mist, Gera saw a two-leg coming to the Place. The two-leg had a large core, thick arms that swung at his side, long foliage creeping down from his head. Gera could feel the arms move through the jungle air. Gera’s digestive bell aching underground, it soon focused on the two-leg’s purpose at the Place.

It does, Gera said back.

But the closer the two-leg came, the greater the vibrations were that emanated.

In the Skyfalls of water and essence that rolled across the jungle, bearing gifts for the Central Root, Gera would open its jaws and feel its esophageal corridor fill to its lip with precipitation. Gera did not choke like other carniflora, but was full: of water, of pressure, reaching out from within.

That’s how it felt to witness this two-leg. Fullness.

Gera dubbed him the Resonant.

After some time, the massive two-leg emerged at Gera’s maw. The Resonant was naked like the other from those many cycles before, but he stood taller, balling together the tendrils at the ends of his arms.

Do you expect it to talk? the Central Root asked.

Whether it knew it or not, Gera did not reply.

The Resonant spoke. His vibrations were booming. His voice hurt and—pleased Gera.

The two-leg then looked up, raising his tendrils to the sky, shaking them as if wrestling a tall tree for fruit, calling out in a shattering roar.

Gera? the Central Root asked.

No carniflore could understand the two-leg tongue. Their bodies reflected their feelings: they most often cried, then became energetic and willing.

This one—he did neither. Gera thought on the pain and pleasure of the vibration, and gathered from the Resonant a new emotion: anger.

Over the cycles, Gera had never seen an angry two-leg. What could make the Resonant angry? Did he not want the Yield?

Are two-legs capable of not wanting the Yield? Gera thought.

Then: Are two-legs capable of thinking—their own thoughts?

That was when Gera realized it was thinking its own thoughts, too. All without consulting the Central Root.

This two-leg does not want to be converted into Yield, Gera thought.

Gera’s digestive bell rumbled again. A primitive feeling entered: It wanted to eat the Resonant, to pass on the gifts to the Central Root—

—but how could it, if the Resonant had no choice?

As Gera ruminated, the Resonant turned around and yelled again, shaking his head, the foliage coming from his scalp swaying in the mist. Then he turned again, breathed, and prepared to jump.

Am I sad, or am I angry?

Before the two-leg could jump in, Gera closed its jaws tight. The Resonant fell to the ground, pulling himself away on his back. He had not expected the jaw halves to close.

Go on, Gera thought. It knew the two-leg could not hear it, but it thought the thought anyway. Go on and leave.

The Resonant got to his feet, looked around, and ran from the Place, going in a different direction than he had come.

I have eaten the two-leg, Gera told the Central Root.

Good, the Central Root said.

Gera’s bell rumbled all night, but Gera, for once, did not think about hunger.


Communion, the Central Root said.

Gera hesitated.

I am—there.

When it joined with the Central Root, its thoughts were strangled by a great force it hadn’t known before.

Gera, are you digesting? the Central Root asked.

I am, Gera said back.

When Gera spoke, the other Mouths hummed, blotting the signals to Gera’s mind-root. It didn’t know what was happening. What was the Central Root thinking?

I give you the choice to answer willingly, the Central Root said. So I ask you: are you digesting, Gera?

Distracted by the hum, Gera struggled to answer.

I—am not.

It is clear, then, the Central Root said, that the two-legs have disobeyed the Order of your Place.

Do not send the Yield.

Through the hum, Gera tried imagining the Resonant, but again its thoughts were mangled and wrought undone.

Otherwise, you will suffer Ex-Communion, the Central Root said.

Amidst the hum that clotted Gera’s remaining control of its mind-root, the Resonant’s face peered in, furious and demanding.

And after, a rogue thought: that the Resonant would rip the Central Root apart.

Then Gera lost its mind to the hum altogether.


Darkness. No sound. Nothing to see. Gera was alone in its mind-root.

Central Root, where are you? asked Gera.

After some time, the Central Root entered, its presence filling, choking Gera.

I am here. I am with you, said the Central Root.

I cannot see. I cannot move my jaws.

I know it.

I cannot feel, but I can think.

I know it.


Because you, Gera, are a part of me. We are all one. And you can think of no other.

I do not think of another.

Then the pain of fire—a latent fear came rushing into Gera’s mind and body. Burning, all burning, rippling, screaming, like dissolving two-legs—

Then nothing.

You do, Gera. Do not tempt Ex-Communion.

I do not wish it.

The fire began again, and Gera, trapped in the dark of its thoughts, could only accept the fire, accelerating in its fervor—

You will forget the two-leg.


Then Gera heard nothing.

I am sorry, Gera said. I am sorry.

Nothing more from the Central Root. It was gone. The darkness consumed Gera, leaving it no recourse. Gera had never inflected anything but monotone submission in its voice, but now it screamed, all within its mind-root:

I am sorry! Gera screeched. I am sorry for what I have done!

You are forgiven, the Central Root said. The acceptance was brief, which startled Gera. Why was this turn so quick?

Then, the Central Root grappled Gera’s mind and directed it: You will eat after all. Watch.

Gera gained vision, and hunger, and a shriveled, flaking esophagus. But in the Above came a slow, marching procession of two-legs—carrying above them the Resonant.

You did as I said, the Central Root told Gera. You did not send the Yield. So now they come.

Gera’s digestive bell boiled at the sight of the Resonant, bound and struggling in the others’ arms. He yelled, but in the yell Gera saw the very cry a four-leg makes when a vine catches its and forces it to starve in the jungle night.

But this two-leg has no choice! Gera screeched.

The spirit is in our many.

The procession stopped at Gera’s maw, all but one kneeling as they still held the Resonant. The one that stood was a two-leg meek in appearance, wearing a crown of many vines and leaves. The Crowned spoke to the sky and to the ground. The others watched from below, reluctant to move.

Then the Crowned pointed to Gera, and he spoke. The resonant shook his head and yelled once more. As he did, the others’ arm tendrils slid him forward, to descend past the toothed halves of Gera’s gaping mouth.

Now close your jaws, the Central Root commanded.

And Gera did so without thought.

Now digest.

The screaming inside, so much screaming—

Gera, the Central Root said, are you not pleased?

After the struggle, Gera met a different kind of fullness—but one familiar all the same.

I am.

And Gera began to fall asleep. When it did, it started to dream. And the dreams were pleasing.

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