Here we have a Qwortarian in their natural habitat. Tentacles dragging their body through the mud and the surface that make up the quickly decomposing forest.
The once lush and green landscape looks nothing like its former self. Not a tree is least standing at full height, a few stumps still holding together, though the splintered edges which would normally be present from a tree falling missing. The edges were smooth, and mushy.
The Qwortarian reached out to one stump like this, even in their weakened state, trying to use the stump as leverage only made the limb sink into the decaying wood. The decomposing tissue oozed around the tentacle, dripping down the sides of the stump like lava from a volcano.
The creature, the dominant life form on this planet rested there, one tentacle resting nearly on ground even in the nearly liquefied wood. Breathing was too much effort, too much energy, so it was still. Relying on osmosis diffusion for the air needed for cellular respiration the Qwortarian rests. Their jelly like body slowly flattening with gravity’s pull.
Until a sound causes it to stir. A mix between a chirp and a gargle, the call reaches the Qwortarian and rouses them from their starved stupor. Their eye stalk poked back up through the skin, and their beak made a feeble sound in return, more gurgle than chirp.
This fascinating creature stretches their tentacles out once more. Their jelly like body picks up broken leaves, pieces of bark, and mud. The call got louder, and the Qwortarian reached up into a stone chamber, pulling a smaller, more opaque, baby Qwortarian out from the darkness.
Parent and child blink at each other, those slow blinks which must convey more than ‘I see you’, but rather ‘I love you’. Perhaps even ‘goodbye’.
For what is love if not the decision to regurgitate your very last meal for a child to glean some energy, some life at the cost of your own.
Word count: 330