The four attercops conferred on the top of the headboard, forelegs
furiously tapping an arythmic staccato on each other’s carapace, in turn, till all had their say. Two then proceeded in opposite directions to the ends of the headboard, (out of harm’s way, lest an errant elbow or hand get all of them); and the other two descended their silent skeins toward the huge sleeping body below.
Through hundreds of thousands of generations this ritual had been performed, at the least, monthly. Their singular genotype maintained about 36 individuals continually, chromosomally bent on fulfilling their
function, and always in the immediate vicinity of one particular human soul, whenever incarnate. Over the millennia billions of eggs, encysted till needed, had been deposited everywhere humanity lived thence to waft windward and eventually lay in wait anywhere they might be needed. Oviposited as crystalline titanium carbide, they were, (barring the next Big Bang) imperishable, the ancient offhanded gift of a demigod for favors rendered him by a human soul when the earth was young, and all the Orders of Angels/Aliens still visited Earth and walked amongst men.
All watched over by nano-’machines of loving grace’ were the bodies of this evolving essence and yet never had any of the ‘false personalities’ (the ego developed in any one lifetime) known or suspected anything, some gods being desirous of no worship, heresy though that was. Yet none of these dharmic avatars ever intentionally killed a spider, and none knew, or thought about, why.
Time after timeless time, down all the echoing decades inchoate with virulence had they synthesized inoculative toxins in response to their detection of disease in this particular soul’s succession of incarnative vehicles, persevering, (sometimes past death - say by crawling into a shoe or boot, there to die - but only after their autonomic bite reaction served its purposes) to inject their patient, for such he was, with antigens and genespliced antibodies that would counter disease and maintain optimum health.
Thus had this essences’ bodies survived plague after flu after cancer. Countless were the recoveries from cholera, dysentery,
malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea (the list was a history of every ill that humanity suffered). All of this because of a favor once done with no thought of reward, by this soul and its body in a forgotten incarnation. No ‘lust of result’ had colored that ancient action, and that was so rare that it was deemed worthy of reward by one of the former guardians/bio-engineers that had brought the human race into being, and guided its development.
The ‘demigod’ had been Thoth/Prometheus, and he had been hidden, fed, clothed and aided by this mortal. A mortal who only knew that he was a friend of his friend Heracles/Hercules’s, and had been recently rescued from imprisonment and torture. The man, then a budding Magus (for this soul’s role/matrix was Sage), cast a Magick spell so well wrought that it hid the demigod from the enraged scrutiny of a partial pantheon of deities bent on recapturing and continuing to harvest his wildly regenerative godwrought liver tissue to punish the rogue bio-tech.
The rebel who had fled the orbital station/labs, and hid on Earth, teaching humanity about the laws and nature of existence (Magick), and the perfidy of those BioMages worshipped by men as gods [who were simply a consortium of scientifically advanced technomancers; both spatially, chronologically and dimensionally alien to the Earth (which, to them, was but another planetary testube, wherein they could develop ‘soul-vehicles’ and that most efficacious of data storage devices, DNA)] never forgot this random act of kindness, and, at the first opportunity, created and programmed a legacy of nanobiobots for the mortal as thanks.
The two attercops, having reached the pillowed head of the sleeping man, quickly scuttled up to a looming ear. After the first bit and anesthetized the lobe, the other injected a toxin synthesized the night before in response to a recent blood sample which had indicated the presence of a strain of E-coli (ingested in an undercooked burger) about to promulgate itself into a life-threatening illness.
Their task accomplished, the two ascended the headboard, swung to the wall and then vanished through a crack between the wainscotting and the plaster, there to replenish themselves and tend to their eggs. Their two partners would repeat the process of bioptic
sampling, analysis and toxin production (if necessary) again tomorrow, just as had all their replicedents, down through the centuries.
The man snored, all unawares of both his good fortune and his prior lifetimes, dreaming of a small, goat-footed boy playing a pipe in a forest of dawn redwoods - and of laughter, hearty and vibrant, echoing through the sunbeams and trees of a world newly minted.