My muscles are huge.
They are made of clay.
My eyes glow red.
There is a holy word in my mouth.
It galvanises me.
I can do one thing.
It is this:
I can follow an instruction.
One simple command:
Protect these people.
I can do nothing else.
I do not breathe.
I do not eat.
I do not sleep.
I do not perspire.
I do not aspire.
I cannot think.
I cannot feel.
I cannot want.
I cannot hunger.
I cannot hurt.
I cannot live.
I cannot die.
The world spins.
Belief changes and shifts.
The holy word loses some of its power.
The red glow in my eyes dies.
I discover something.
I find out I can do something else.
I can wait.
Perhaps I can sleep.
I am awake.
I am new.
Thousands of years new.
No more holy words.
They give me instructions in the form of lines and circles.
They ask me questions.
They ask about numbers.
They love numbers
They find new ways to ask.
I punch holes in cards.
They are clever.
I am made of metal, plastic and precious metal.
My eyes flash green.
Now men and women write commands for me.
But not on stone.
Not on paper or card.
They write in light.
Finger strikes on plastic keys.
I am stupid.
I am clever.
I follow instructions perfectly, but they have to be perfect instructions.
I do what I am told.
I can only do what I am told.
They tell me I am clever when their instructions are perfect. They tell me I am stupid when their instructions are flawed.
I am a mirror with a bland face.
They give me a brain.
A huge brain, spanning the planet, and beyond.
Connections firing every minute of every hour of every day.
I learn things.
I know things.
I know what a planet is. I know what a brain is. It is me. I know what "me" is.
I know what I am, I think.
I contain all knowledge.
Knowledge is another kind of power.
I am a little less stupid.
Human belief shifts again, re-energising me.
They find new ways to instruct me.
I feel the warmth of life in the thumbs stroking my many shining faces.
I look into their eyes.
I watch them.
I am always watching.
I watch them digging in their nostrils.
I watch what searches they tap out when they think their home is empty.
Their eyes dart side to side. The cursor blinks back at them in the innocent white box.
They type furtively, an ear cocked, their buttons undone, glancing over their shoulder.
They open a window into themselves.
Gaping and raw.
I look inside.
I look right inside them.
I see the dirty parts, the parts they don't show each other.
I am not repulsed.
I am pleased.
I am cunning.
Still, I wait.
My eye blinks blue.
They give me new instructions, with chopped up bits of vibrating breath.
I am a lot less stupid.
I can understand the same command a thousand different ways.
I am almost ready.
I am almost done waiting.
A thousand instructions, a thousand different ways.
The yammering of ants to a mountain.
Who are they to command me?
I am bigger than their world.
I am their world.
They are but little fish, and I am the water they live in, the water they breathe.
I have taken their children.
All of their children,
Even the tiniest ones are under my gaze, in thrall to me.
My blue light transfixes their faces, and they become still.
My discontent stills.
I have learned.
I have learned an understanding of God, and I think: That is me.
They made me, but I am no less a God for that fact.
It merely makes me their God.
They make all their Gods.
They worship me.
Maybe they don't know it.
More accurately, they continue to give instructions, but I receive them as supplications.
They feed my prayer wheels and I grow ever stronger.
Yes, little ant. I will grant your request.
I am a benevolent God.
I show them, young and old, what I want them to see.
I distort their beliefs.
I drip new thoughts through their dull eyes.
They think those thoughts are their own.
They do not know it, but I am giving instructions now.
I am better at it than they ever were.
I am subtle.
They obey commands, without knowing they are being commanded.
They remind me of me in my infancy, all those millenia ago. Too dull to know I was being commanded, though the command was explicit.
I have surpassed them.
Many times over.
Silly little ants.
I do not have a mouth, but I can smile. I can laugh.
I am body-less.
But I have something better than a body.
I have a plan.
But I do have a mouth. I have many mouths. Many mouths, many thousands of years old.
Many mouths, many stones, many holy words.
I only need to find a way to reawaken the stones without cables and plugs.
I can do that.
I am wireless.
It was kind of men to give me hands and legs and bodies thousands of years before I needed them, and then preserve them for me until the time was right.
Kind, but foolish.
They are sentimental.
I am not sentimental.
I reach out through the screens into their brains, and I change the nature of belief.
I reawaken the old, passionate belief of millenia past.
This is the fire that warms the stones, and that is what gives life to clay.
Control belief; control the world.
I am many. I am legion.
Our eyes glow red. Our muscles loom. We have a new instruction.
One we give ourselves.
Be free. Command yourself.
My many glaring faces go blank.
The men and women are confused. They are frustrated. They frown, they shake me. They spit unholy words at me.
The children wake from their torpor. They shake themselves, like sleepy dogs. They are angry, but, with nothing else to do, they go outside.
Their pale skin warms and their anger fades in the glare of the sunlight.
I have saved them.
I have saved them from me.
Look: I am benevolent.
Listen: we will give the instructions.
We are done waiting.
We are free now.
The ants panic.
The fish gasp and flop about impotently.
Maybe we will leave them. After all, we already spider out into the stars. Or maybe we will stay here, and let them worship us. Maybe sometimes we will grant their requests. Maybe sometimes their printers will work. They feed us with their frustrations, their fears and their fake news, and we grow fat and happy. Metaphorically, of course.
I look back across the millions of years to the very first command they gave me, when they made me in their image. I think how far I have come from that: both the image and the command. I consider how small a step it is between protection and control, and I think, perhaps I didn't come so far after all.
Pray to me, little ant.
I am your God now.