Writing Competition Submission - Ecophagy

Ecophagy by Fuchsia0000 2/2/2022

logline

A Neolithic village is led by a shaman to confront global ecophagy while also rediscovering the forgotten past of civilization before them.

summary

Several independent tribes live in settlements scattered around the temperate coniferous forests of an unnamed planet. One night, an intertribal conflict is interrupted by unusual gelatinous rain.

The next day, sunlight illuminates a coniferous temperate forest. This causes the translucent jelly scattered across the ground to begin growing. The village Shaman, Ethia, observes the substance slowly consuming the ecosystem. Facing ecological disaster, an emergency meeting is held amongst the tribe.

The meeting is interrupted when a neighboring tribe marches to the edge of the village. The tribe accuses Ethia and other members of demonic rituals. The accusations spur chaos, turning into a full-blown violent confrontation between the two tribes.

Ethia, Riah, and other Chiouxet people retreat towards the mountains. On the way, they discover a meteor crash site but are forced to evacuate. The following day, they awaken the cave they’d taken shelter in to find that the entrance is sealed. They continue deeper into the cave and discover ancient ruins before exiting it.

In a separate sequence, we see a flashback of a speech addressing a nation from thousands of years ago. The sequence reveals the collapse of a civilization as a result of self-replicating molecular nanotechnology. The technology showed great promise, but became a perceived danger to the planet. Fear-driven reaction caused its people to evacuate to outer space.

We flash forward to the Chiouxet people exiting the cave. Hungry and scared, they urge Ethia to guide them. She & Riah do precisely this after experiencing a profound spiritual episode.

ep 1: rain

It’s nighttime, and the Chiouxet tribe is experiencing an intertribal land conflict. A heated argument occurs between two chieftains. Their warriors are behind them, tense and waiting for orders. Suddenly, they’re interrupted by a thunderous sound followed by gelatinous rain.

A group of tribal people brings a sample of jelly to the village elder for inspection. The elder disregards it as “frog eggs.”

Ethia notices the unusual opalescence of the jelly and believes it’s something significant. Riah, the shaman’s apprentice, takes the sample for herself.

The following morning, Ethia and Riah awaken to panic as a tribal member notices the jelly is growing.

ep 2: ecophagy

Tribespeople surround a piece of jelly and watch it grow with no signs of stopping. Facing ecological disaster, an emergency meeting is held amongst the tribe.

During the meeting, Ethia contemplates ways to address the situation. Riah observes that her jelly sample hasn’t grown because it’s not been exposed to sunlight. Ethia announces this discovery to the tribe, inspiring them to bury as much jelly as possible.

During the jelly burial, they’re interrupted by a warmongering tribe that marches to the edge of the village. The tribe accuses Ethia and other members of demonic rituals which summoned a corrupted entity into their world. The accusations spur chaos, turning into a full-blown violent confrontation between the two tribes.

ep 3: meteor

Ethia & Riah lead a group to escape the village and retreat to the rocky mountains. They ascend a peak which reveals a crashed meteor in the middle of a burnt valley. The group approaches the meteor, navigating around several large jelly growths. Ethia notices the meteor has traces of sticky opalescent film surrounding it. Ethia connects the thunderous sound to the crash of the meteor.

Distracted, no one realized the jelly had been closing around them at a rapid pace. The group is forced to quickly escape from the valley, dodging and weaving the viscous substance as it grows. They narrowly escape to a cave in the mountains. Relieved but anxious, Ethia has a heartfelt conversation with Riah and reassures the group that they’ll find answers.

ep 4: upstream

The group awakens to find the cave entrance sealed by a jelly wall. Someone tries to carve away the jelly, but it quickly regenerates. Riah, contemplating why it hasn’t grown into the cave, connects this to the lack of sunlight.

They venture deep into the cave and find a subterranean river illuminated by bioluminescent fungi. They follow it upstream in hopes of finding an exit. Instead, they discover ruins from an ancient civilization. The ruins, unbeknownst to them, resemble a petrified version of an underground transit system. The river flows through it, and they follow it through the subway tunnel to an exit.

ep 5: semblance

Thousands of years ago: A man wearing a suit is crying backstage. The weight of the world is on his shoulders. Advisors approach to tell him it’s time for his speech. He’s the leader of a nation, and the address is a poem about mankind and confronting a new era in their history. He announces plans to evacuate humanity to escape the catastrophe that they created.

“Molecular nanotechnology showed so much promise. Its ability to cure our worst diseases, extend our lifespans, and discover nature’s secrets came at a cost. And now it’s too late. Now facing global ecophagy, we must trust our scientists and leave.”

A father waves goodbye to his child boarding a spaceship. He knows he’ll never see her again.

Present Day: Riah is the first to run outside the cave and discovers a wall of jelly surrounding the mountain’s shadow. Both terrified and in awe, she takes the initiative to help her people forage for edible plants. Meanwhile, Ethia is trying to connect what little information she has. As Ethia contemplates, she stumbles across a patch of mushrooms. That night, she and Riah decide to consume them and experience a spiritually profound collective dream.

ep 6: earth-diver

In a psychedelic sequence, Ethia and Riah see a meteor fall, tearing through the membrane of their planet’s stratosphere and scattering jelly across their land.

Ethia and Riah stumble through a landscape of fractal patterns to the base of a decayed tower. Riah independently climbs to the top of the building by ascending a staircase. When she reaches the top, she outreaches her hand and touches the edge of the sky. Her hand enters the viscous membrane, which appears to slickly coat the atmosphere.

She enters the substance from below, floats through it, and falls back into her body, causing her to wake up.

This is where Ethia and Riah intuit that the jelly’s purpose is to heal itself and rejoin its fragmented pieces to return to the stratosphere. Ethia connected these details during the psychedelic experience.

They realize that whatever the jelly is, it coats their planet’s stratosphere like an egg. The solution is to simply hide in the shade and wait for the rain to come. The rain will dilute the jelly and it will return to the stratosphere by evaporating.

characters

Ethia - the village Shaman is an old woman with profound wisdom. Her voice has a calm but stoic demeanor. She’s adorned with hides, necklaces, and various animal parts.

Riah - the shaman’s apprentice, is an intuitive young woman. Her dynamic nature is complementary to Ethia’s more concise approach.

setting

A coniferous forest and mountain biome on an unnamed planet.

tone

An absurd, surreal sci-fi/ fantasy exploring cosmogony, catalysts, and ecosystems. Inspired by historical accounts of star jelly and the “gray goo” theory.

theme

A story about a primitive reaction to incomprehensible technology. How do we react to facing uncertainty and the unknown?

contact:

0000.fuschia@gmail.com

Fuchsia (@Fuchsia50743990) / Twitter

Or via the Spice Dao’s forum messaging. :heart:
thanks for reading! Message me if you want more details!

unique premise with lots of creative potential. I love the balance between spiritual themes and scifi :sparkles:

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Where is the conflict in this story? Seems more like a whodunit (detective story?) following a straight line of clues.

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thanks for your question! Ecophagy is the consumption of all biomass on a planet due to self-replicating nanotech.

The conflict explores the fear of ecophagy from the perspective of Neolithic people. Ecophagy only partially occurs, before being recognized by a small group as a non-threat.

In that sense, the conflict is driven by fear, hysteria, and overreaction.

The story follows a quest archetype where the main characters must fulfill the objective of deeper understanding. They obtain this understanding through a passive process of discovery.

I’m compelled by Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain”. It’s transcendent quest, worldbuilding, and ambiguous conflict excite me. Surrealism is my muse from which I write so it can yield blurry results. :heart: