optimal 2; russian space tentacle

chapter 1: optimal


the green tendril lengthened. thickened. foamed and stretched and swayed. dark green and gray in its trunk, but translucent at the edges, slime and fizzing chlorphyllic froth. algal hydrogen.


the root mat stretched through the understory of the forest. ropy and pulsing. cords pull taut between the stalk and the roots, stretching out and firming into buttressing tendrils that would grow a fat pad on the ground, then knife through the humus and grapple into bedrock,



as the stalk stretched upward, the slime would slide in the wind, reactively smoothing itself into the turbulence, ailerons or coverts. the flower pod head swole and swole, swirling layers of translucent bubbly colors and the shadows of hidden petals to unfold.


in its second week, it grew a mile a day, straight up, like a balloon. not so much climbing and pushing into the sky, as a barely restrained freefall upwards. snotball balloon on its snot string, a jizz stream shot into space. by the end the trunk was a mile across at the base, more or less, it was a jungle of dripping tendrils wrapped around and through the existing trees, using them and feeding them, and covered with birds and bugs eating the rich slime.


ten miles up the balloon was ready to pop. the hydrogen soaked foamstuff had reached neutral buoyancy, at the end of the stratosphere. the translucent bulb was filled with iridescent fractal tracery layered into its depths. from it a shining dahlia the size of a football stadium unfolded to catch the sun. the petals continued to unfurl, flattening and blooming into a rippling silver film a hundred miles in diameter, floating on the outer edge of earths atmosphere.



down the gravity well, slime continued to crack hydrogen and carbon from where the air was heavier, making more slime which would schlorp and slide upwards along the stalk up to the flower. the filmy petals filled and grew thicker, until what had been gauzy swelled into a thick mat.


the stalk, too, grew and changed. the viscous snot string condensed into regular ropy tendrils, viney tubes growing in a great spun helix, which tightened and coalesced until it separated and hollowed completely in the center. so the stalk became a straw.