107 | First Place

In the beginning, they went to war. Now arbitrium came through to the descendants with instructions to settle; to make a new home and wait.

This story tied for 1st place in our 48 HOUR FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Bacteriophages (or ‘phages’) are viruses that replicate inside bacterium. In 2017, researchers discovered that the original phage and their progeny communicate using the arbitrium system. So, how does this work? Once a phage enters a host, they release a peptide chain message. The initial phage then communicates that its replicated progeny should destroy their host cells or maintain the cell’s life and integrate the phage genome into the host cell genome. This research drove Alex Robinson to ask: If such “simple” entities are capable of such complex message transmission and group decision-making, who knows what else viruses can communicate to each other? 

//Alex Robinson @pronerdalex is a nerd and a nurse. They write table-top RPGs and co-host @letsdoitpodcast, a sex ed podcast. Check out Alex on Medium for more of their sexual health writing.//

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