The Great Gildsby, by Soren James

Prim Gildsby was a very cautious woman who had an obsessive, and some said irrational, anxiety about losing herself. So it was that she employed all her wealth and power in seeking a way to alleviate this fear. The answer she settled upon, the solution that made her feel most comfortable, was to place within every cell of her body a miniature version of herself. Through this inverse homunculisation she reasoned she could ensure her continued existence under any circumstances. For example, if she were destroyed by a meteor (for this was among her fears) then the retrieval of just one of her cells would enable her to be recreated.

Two years later and the extensive work of placing one homunculus into every cell was beginning to take its toll on Ms Gildsby. The creation of each homunculus meant replicating herself in a replicator, and then shrinking each of these replicas in a shrinking machine. And this process needed to be repeated some thirty-five trillion times.

However, there were problems with the procedure: the technique for replication was radioactive (every time Gildsby went through it, several of her cells were destroyed); and the problem with the shrinking procedure was that it caused inhibited brain function (the brain being an organ that doesn’t endure the shrinking process very well).

Another year later, when Ms Gildsby had homuncularised about half the cells in her little finger, further complications arose. Each replication process was replicating the homunculi already in that little finger—thereby creating homunculi in homunculi. Not only that, but the radiation was killing several homuncularised cells with every replication she made.

To side-step these effects, Gildsby came up with the idea of temporarily removing the already homuncularised cells from her finger, leaving them to one side while she took her increasingly frail self into the replicator—ignoring the small imperfection of a hole in her finger being replicated in each of them.

A year later again, and it was becoming obvious that the homunculi she was creating were somewhat inferior to the ones she’d previously created from her healthier self four years earlier, and minus eighteen billion radioactive trips through the replicator.

In an attempt to overcome this problem she hatched the plan to replicate herself once more, and then use the replicatee to create 100 replicas of itself. Then to get those 100 replicatees to create 100 more and so on, until there was a whole batch of one billion copies of her. Then she could shrink them all in one giant shrinking machine. It was figured that through this method work would continue more swiftly.

There was one drawback, though. The food costs of maintaining millions of copies of herself while they waited to go into the shrinking machine were expensive and were almost bankrupting Gildsby.

Soon there was another quandary. Ms Gildsby had an accident, which resulted in a change in her attitude to the world and to herself. This meant that the homunculi already created were now inaccurate—at least in their outlook. So she was faced with a dilemma: should she tolerate about half-a-hand’s-worth of her own cells (plus a few million copies of herself waiting to go into the shrinking machine) having a different belief system to her?

After all, what would happen if, in an incident of spontaneous human combustion (another of Ms Gildsby‘s fearful obsessions), the world were left with only that half hand’s worth of homuncalarised cells? In such a case she would be recreated with a belief system that was not her own. And this idea was an intolerable and frightening idea for her.

To resolve this, Gildsby decided to send millions of shrunken missionaries to convert those fifty-two billion homunculi within her from believing in what she now considered to be the wrong outlook.

Reports of the success of these miniaturised missionaries came back with mixed results. And a complication occurred when it turned out that some of the missionaries hadn’t returned from the cells to which they were sent—meaning that there were rogue homunculi-missionaries in her body. There were now homunculi in her that weren’t even related to her.

Further information relayed from the returned missionaries revealed that some of her own homunculi had also gone missing. They had seemingly absconded from her hand to other places in her body—sometimes alone, and sometimes in pairs—apparently moving in together and sharing a bone cell here, or a skin cell there. The whole project was becoming a complex calamity.

So it was that Prim Gildsby, worn out and ill from her efforts at self preservation, decided one day not to preserve herself. Instead she embraced the here and now moment, as if it were the only thing there was.


Soren James is a writer and visual artist who recreates himself on a daily basis from the materials at his disposal, continuing to do so in upbeat manner until one day he will sumptuously throw his drained materials aside and resume stillness without asking why. More of his work can be seen here: http://sorenjames.moonfruit.com/home/4580917876.


<– Notes from Interstellar Voyage Aquaria 51 Found in Abandoned Machinery, by Jude-Marie Green

How Is It Supposed To Feel?, by Jon Mcgill –>

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