Quaestusphyllum Commune

By Nick Hoobin

Short Story and Illustration

Quaestusphyllum Commune shrine illustration by Nick Hoobin
FIG. I: Shrine dedicated to the Q. commune goddess.

Trash as Environment

It got to the point where trash covered almost all of our freshwater supply, and a fourth of our oceans. It was plastics, mostly. Plastics—pesky things—can’t just be thrown away, they’ll still be there for an eternity, right where we left them. There were small plastics, such as small beads to make ineffectual cleansers feel like they were actually working, to large 3D printed industrial parts measuring stories high. All of that thrown away, piling up, blowing across the land, encroaching our parks, contaminating our water. Plastics spreading across the world.

Notice my careful use of the past tense. I said trash covered our freshwater supply and oceans. While trash is still everywhere, it’s getting better. We developed—I developed—a new breakthrough in the plastic recycling process. It’s called Quaestusphyllum commune, a fungus that feeds off of plastics. There were other fungi on the market that did the same job, but their use was limited. I engineered this species to work faster and on more types of plastic. With some clever positioning, branding, and some luck with the timing, Q. commune applications can now be found worldwide.

No one can resist puppies. Kittens. Or any baby animal. Aren’t they cute? Baby Animal Breeders Surprise. Take care of your little ones. Watch them get cuter and cuter. Clean up their little surprises. Don’t let their energy drop or they’ll grow into ugly adult animals. That would displease the Goddess. Play for free on the app store. In app purchases required to unlock all gameplay and content.

Quaestusphyllum Commune petri dish illustration by Nick Hoobin
FIG. II: Primitive _Q. commune_ on agar plate eating plastic.

Shared Personality Traits

I’ve always been resourceful and optimistic. I believe that through the use of applied knowledge we can solve humanity’s problems. It’s not enough to think, we have to act upon and implement our ideas. If we don’t act, problems will pile up before we can get out there to solve them. When I was a child I wanted to create the ultimate animal. It would be cute but strong, and have the best traits from all living things. The animal would be able to lift, resist disease, live a long life, provide fur and food (that wouldn’t harm it, of course), and be caring. It would be my creation. In the real world, that meant I studied to become a geneticist and microbiologist. I created transgenic species that helped solve the problems of hunger, disease, and recently trash.

I don’t consider myself a scientist though—well not any more. I guess it was appropriate to step down after the success of Q. Commune. My colleagues—former colleagues—wanted me to quit too. They were shocked at what was going on and the rate of success. They weren’t jealous, their rational selves understood that it was necessary, but the emotional toll was too much for them. I couldn’t even believe it at first, but I’ve learned to live with my new position. I’m now a figurehead more than anything; the face of something big. My family—my daughter and husband—are proud of me and that’s all that matters.

Let me tell you about my daughter. She brings so much joy to my husband and myself. She just graduated high school this spring and is going to start her first day of college next week. We’re torn about her leaving, but it’s time we recognized that she’s grown up into an independent young adult. She’s going to study art and design, just like her father. But she shares my ambition and sense of wonder. I see her making rational decisions, connecting ideas and expressing them with her hand, similar to how I splice specific genes to express desired traits. She wants to solve problems and make a difference using design, like how I want to solve problems using science. I’ve already made a huge difference. I solved the problem of excess plastic-based trash. I got rewarded greatly for my efforts. But that itself isn’t enough. Knowing that my daughter will go out in the world and continue to do the good work that we taught her to do is what makes me feel truly satisfied as a parent.

Humans like swiping and matching on the train. It passes the time during the boring commute to work. Plus, you don’t have to talk with the loser sitting next to you. Hey loser, I said no one has to talk with you! Public Transportation Match Three Surprise. Swipe trains, buses, and independently contracted drivers to get to work faster. Avoid the loser squares, and don’t talk to anyone. Talking’s boring, and displeases the Goddess. Play for free on the app store. In app purchases required to unlock all gameplay and content. Approved for human use.

Failed Experiment

Let me tell you a story about my husband. One day he tried to teach me to paint. It was my idea, and we knew that it probably wouldn’t go well, but he tried anyway. He was so sweet and caring.

When my canvas looked like I vomited colors, he tried to relate the tools and process of painting to a lab experiment. The effort was futile, and I still can’t paint today. He had patience with me and said he’d always look out for our growing family and that he’d try to teach our soon to be new daughter to paint too.

I misspoke earlier. I don’t have a husband—we’re divorced. I don’t blame him for the divorce itself. What I do blame him for is leaving me when I needed him most. He’s not here to support our daughter through the next stage of her life and not here to support me in my new position.

Business news, feast your ears. Our free to play mobile “Surprise” series of apps have had much success from in app purchases. Soon developers will have complete domination of approved-for-human-use free to play apps. All the money will be ours, all economies will be ours. Not a single weapon has been raised against the silly humans. Only money. Our goddess will be pleased.

Quaestusphyllum Commune specimen illustration by Nick Hoobin
FIG. III: Common fully developed Q. commune specimen.

Human Bias

I speak as if my daughter and husband are still on this Earth—again I misspoke. I like to imagine what my life would be like if they were still here with me. I think of what our major milestones would be and how we as parents would raise our daughter. I guess it’s a coping mechanism, to ease the pain.

Let me tell you a story about my family, of my daughter and husband. They were out swimming in a lake, I was off trying to save the world by making someone else richer. My daughter was about to start school in a few months and my husband was teaching her to swim. They were wearing life vests, at my behest, but I wanted them to be in a swimming pool, not a large body of water. My husband looked away for one second, one instant. That was all it took for our lives to be thrown into chaos. I’ve been mentioning how our world was covered in plastics. It was a plastic bag that wrapped around her head and ended her life. Someone else’s trash became a weapon. Weapons covering the world, and no one was doing anything about it.

As I said earlier, I don’t blame my husband. Her death was accidental. Law enforcement went after him of course, and we spent the following months reassuring everyone that it was an accident. My husband beat himself up over it, though. He couldn’t deal with the guilt and grief. Six months after losing our daughter he took his own life. A single plastic bag tore this family apart. Something curious happened when splicing genes to create Quaestusphyllum commune. I don’t believe in a higher power but it must have been my longing to get my family back that caused the outcome. The commune started to reproduce quickly, became intelligent, and grew human sized. Soon the whole world was covered in Q. commune and our trash problem was no longer unsolvable. They didn’t stop at eating our unwanted plastics; they demanded to be rewarded for their service.

They didn’t fight us, of course, they were too smart for that. Instead they are in the midst of a total market takeover and are literally buying society out from under us. They are using our desire to waste time and be entertained—combined with aggressive in-app purchase schemes—to drain our income. They refer to me as their Goddess, and treat me as such. They will stop at nothing to please me, to rid the world of plastic, to make my life whole again. But they will never replace my family.

$25

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