By Fiona Luo
I met a virus today. He seemed quite well mannered, although I had to squint to see him. In fact, I may not have noticed him if he were not constantly trying to latch onto my membrane! This, I’m sure, was a friendly gesture to get my attention. We made small talk and discussed the weather within the bloodstream, the most popular fashion trends — curling one’s flagella is very in these days! — and the latest viral videos. Of course, the conversation was rather one sided as the virus could only repeat “divide” over and over, but I found it charming that he was so goal oriented.
I was intently absorbed in chatting about how my flagella always get tangled in the morning when I looked up to find that the virus had multiplied to form a mob larger than myself! It was most alarming. I began to slowly swim away; however, when I had traveled nearly ten micrometers, the flock noticed me and began to charge towards me, all the while chanting “Divide! Divide! Divide!” I was desperate for a solution when a group of antibodies swam by.
“Virus! Virus!” I cried, frantically gesticulating towards the large swarm.
The group of antibodies spun around and upon recognizing the viruses, sped towards them and immediately went to work. I’m not very good with fights so I rushed away as fast as I could, although I heard cries of “divide, divi … vi … i …” fading in the distance. I hope I don’t run into the same virus again!
I’ve been feeling under the bloodstream lately. My friend Cole I. insists I’ve caught a bacteriophage. I went to a bacteriophage expert to be sure but he only spoke Spanish, so it was difficult to communicate. I asked him if he thought I looked unwell, and he replied, “See?” I responded, “See what?” The conversation didn’t go very far from there.
I was attempting to take a light nap yesterday when all of a sudden a membrane protein hit me. Irritated, I tried to fall back to sleep when another protein struck me! And another, and another. When I could tolerate this no further, I reluctantly swam up to find the source of this ammunition.
It turns out that a group of bacteria who were tired of always being pushed around by white blood cells were building a barrier to separate us bacteria from the immune system. The problem was that each time they tried to put up a protein it would not stick and instead floated downstream.
I was about to tell off the group when one of them called out, “Look out! The white blood cells are coming!”
Faster than the snap of a flagella, all the other bacteria swam away hurriedly just as the pack of white blood cells rounded the vessel bend.
“Aha!” they cried. “So it was you!”
I spent the rest of my day running from the horde of cells until I finally found refuge hiding among some platelets. And I was only trying to take a nap!
Today, I ran into a group of quarreling bacteria. It seems they were contending over the which bacteria shape is the most superior. I glimpsed some protesting spirals, spheres, chains, and many more shapes. Fascinated, I watched the ruckus unfold from a little while away.
Over time, more and more bacteria flooded in to join the bickering. Some held up signs which read “Don’t spiral out of control,” “The only thing to fear is sphere itself” and “Two chainz!” The argument grew more and more heated until one of the bacteria hurled a protein at another group. With this added insult, the groups erupted into chaos and violence broke out.
Despite the fighting, all the shapes looked quite beautiful to me. Looking down at my simple rod shape, I now feel rather plain and out of place.
I met a bacteria today who told me I was uncultured.
“Thank you!” I responded enthusiastically.
I asked her if she was uncultured as well and she said no, because her great great great great great great great grandmother had originated from a prestigious bacteria culture. I offered her some of my nutrients but she declined them, claiming that they were too common for her sophisticated palate.
Not understanding what she said, I replied, “Ah yes, take as many as you like!”
She swam away after that. I never understand cultured bacteria.
There has been an antibiotic crisis sweeping through the bloodstream lately.
I found out when I was trying to give Cole I. a good scare today. I crept up behind him, and when the timing was right, I leapt up and exclaimed “Boo!”. Immediately, Cole exploded.
“Oh no,” I thought. “I have killed him.”
At that moment, someone shouted, “Antibiotic incoming!”
As it would turn out, a new antibiotic has been exploding heaps of bacteria – it is rumored to kill off 99.9% of us! In the evening, the bloodstream was quiet and empty. I am going to lay low in the intestines for a while. I still feel a bit bad about Cole.
Even the intestines are deserted now. It can get lonely at times.
I saw a bacteria for the first time in a while today. I was so excited that I began to say, “How do you d —”, when he exploded. It brought back memories of Cole.
I woke up with so little energy today that I could hardly move my flagella, yet somehow I managed to rise up and swim around a bit. It was disheartening traversing the lonely bloodstream, although I continued, not having much business to attend to. I was considering taking a rest when I noticed some flagella prints ahead of me.
Elated, I thought to myself, “Ah! So there is another bacteria!”
Eager to seek out a companion, I continued travelling down the stream at a faster pace until I came to a point where the one set of flagella prints split into two.
“And now there are two!” I reflected. “Better and better! The more the merrier.”
I kept swimming forward until I realized that another print had appeared.
“Well now,” I muttered, “Three’s company, but it is nothing that cannot be tolerated.”
When I noticed that the prints split yet again, I began to grow afraid.
“Four!” I murmured in disbelief. “Four bacteria is quite a lot. I’m not even sure if they are friendly. Should I continue? No, perhaps not … suppose they attack me. It is simply too dangerous!”
Fearful and downcast, I turned back to return to my home in the intestines when I noticed the trail of flagella prints beginning from beneath myself, and suddenly I realized.
“Aha!” I cried. “So I have been going in circles the entire time.”
How disappointing that I was unable to meet those bacteria today!
I believe I am at last falling victim to the antibiotic. I have had little to no energy today. I wonder if this is how Cole I. must have felt? Perhaps I shouldn’t have scared him that day. Oh, my membrane feels as if it is stretched unbearable thin. I feel awful and blown up like a balloon, like I could burst at any mome —