ivide or die,” chanted the ring of evil siblings crushed against her, “divide or die.” But she didn’t want to divide. She wanted to remain intact, singular, in her little spot of ocean warmed by the hot object. Fish were floating dead or swimming wrong on the surface. She actually brushed one on the eye. It was luscious, the heat that welled up in her when she flicked that dead eye. For a moment she ached to divide, she fervently yearned to be two, but it passed. Everything passes, she told herself, trying to block out the chants of the others. “Divide or die,” they elaborated.
     The whole thing had begun with a pang of loneliness, a desolation the weakest couldn’t survive. They cried themselves to death. But the stronger ones looked for others like themselves. Then, as a group, they checked the perimeter for food. If it was warm and the wind was low, and if some rich, thick sludge was being heated and pumped into the slow current, they could all divide at once. It was an orgy with thousands of participants, hundreds of thousands, millions. Shivers of pleasure shot across their surface.
     Now they spread across the ocean surface endlessly—a solid red mass that rolled and rippled in the wind like a sheet on a line. They soaked up the energy of the hot object and snacked with relish on the dead things they made. When the shadow of a cloud moved across their surface, they knew they were being caressed by another entity just like themselves—large, swift, devouring.
     She was a mutant. The hot object had worked its way into her DNA and unhooked something. So what if she was a mutant? So what if she didn’t like to divide? She wanted to float in the warm current, and to flop on her back now and then and watch the clouds lumbering across the pretty blue sky. How long did any of them have? Just a few days. Why not just fucking enjoy it?
     But the group was powerful. Shared emotions swept over them like storms: hunger, awe, desire. For a moment at dawn they were all racked with nostalgia. There were times when every single one of them felt out of place. Peer pressure was a force to be reckoned with.
“Look at her,” said a pert little dinoflagellate with a perfectly smooth protein coat. “Look at her with her nose up in the air, refusing to divide.”
     They laughed at her. No one was on her side. It was hard to have only siblings and no parents to act as referees. If she didn’t divide, she couldn’t truly be part of the All, and if she wasn’t part of the All, she couldn’t share in the divinity that was being passed from sibling to sibling like a joint. “Divide or die,” they said. That they would stop saying it was unthinkable.
     It was tempting, so tempting, to just dissolve into it, but she’d begun to believe it didn’t really mean anything anyway. She’d begun to believe there wasn’t any difference between being many and being singular. In the end, she just was, and she was going to dissolve soon anyway into a little drop of liquid neurotoxin. But before she did, she wanted to give herself a beautiful name.