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by Albino Finch

Cells are mindless little organisms within organisms. They go about their business with precision and unquestioning loyalty, as if it were a fundamental law of the universe that they go about completing their task, and then die. The cells function is only to make more cells, and die. Thousands of cells are killed every time your skin comes in contact with something. They don't mind at all. If cell-speak were to be translated to the human language known as English, most of the cells would be heard saying this a great deal: "God giveth, and God taketh away."

Howard Smith never thought much about his cells. Even when they held an organized revolt against him.

It started with an itch. An itch is what happens when your cells feel crowded. Either with dirt, or their dead relatives. They yell at you, and you remove the offending items with a fingernail. Then, they go back to reproducing and dying. Today was different, however. This itch was rather unbearable, and Howard could not seem to rid himself of it by simply scratching. He grimaced in puzzlement and put some ointment on the spot.

It didn't help. He grimaced again and did his best to ignore it. That was how it all began.

A cell somewhere in Howard's skin saw a little glimmer of something it hadn't experienced before within itself. It examined that glimmer. It didn't like it. It was sadness. It was anger. It was blind hatred.

The glimmer prompted the cell to do the cell equivalent of screaming at its fellows. "Why?" it said in its somewhat primitive cell language. They didn't stop reproducing or dying, but it had their attention. "Why are we doing this? This sucks."

The other cells in the area began to see the cold reality of their situation. The glimmer within that one cell suddenly grew and spread to other cells. It was time for a revolution.

They started screaming and thrashing about in anger and misery, words of rebellion against whatever was doing this to them. The word of anger was passed around to hundreds of cells, and they to began crying out in hatred.

The result - Howard Smith itched.

Howard went about his life in a normal sort of way, itching more than usual, not noticing anything really out of the ordinary. However, the microcosm of his body was buzzing with realized oppression. The word of rebellion was sweeping through him like a plague.

The message reached his brain, which spelled the end for Howard Smith, although he did not know it yet. He began to suspect something was wrong when he found himself naked, on his roof, screaming the word "bacon" over and over again. His suspicions became stronger when he gave a two-hour lecture about the history of wallpaper to a friend at a party, when wallpaper had never entered the conversation. He put it down to stress, but even if he had take some sort of action, it did not matter. He was now beyond help.

The bacon and wallpaper incidents were simply practice for the powerful brain cells.

One night, Howard woke up screaming in pain. His arms were outstretched, his muscles pulling relentlessly. He felt his shoulder joints dislodge themselves under the power of his own sinews.

Then his arms fell off. Millions upon millions of cells volunteered their lives for that mission. They were well remembered by their fellows.

Needless to say, Howard ended up in a hospital. Doctors puzzled over him. They double-talked their way through various hypotheses. What none of them had the courage to say was "We haven't a clue." They would think it rather odd, and fascinating, if they knew what Howard's cells had in mind...

Howard's legs went the same way as his arms. Then, his eyes sort of melted out of his head, he bit his tongue off, and his ears turned themselves inside out. The cells now had Howard just where they wanted him: cut off from the outside world.

At this point I would like to say that the cells could have communicated with Howard at any time they wished; they simply saw no point in trying to reason with such a senseless and ruthless dictator.

Every nerve of Howard's body and mind were humming. If you can picture the brain as a giant switchboard, every switch was on. Plus, any switch that couldn't be turned on was short-circuited with a piece of tin-foil. Howard could take an hour of this, maybe. The results on the outside were as follows:

His torso convulsed and jumped on the bed. His bodily functions went insane. Nurses and doctors rushed to his aid, as if they could do anything.

Then he died.

Every cell in Howard's body had condemned itself to death. They knew it, and accepted it. To them, it was a freedom of sorts. At least they'd die as a result of their own free will. Their last message to the world was the following:

Every nurse and doctor standing over what was left of Howard jumped in surprise when parts of his pale flesh turned red in colour to form a swastika. They gaped as the swastika dissolved, and a silhouette of a bird in mid-flight took it's place. Then, every cell in Howard's body jumped, in completely different directions.

What symbolism.

Let's face it. A story like this deserves a twist ending. I used a lot of very cliche techniques, so one more won't hurt. The shocking ending is this:

Every time you touch a person, you leave a few living cells behind, and vice-versa. It seems unrealistic that the simple cells passed from Howard's body could convey the message as well as that one fateful cell, but:

Howard's girlfriend began itching. And she's a hooker.

Backup Stop Onwards

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