(I am often fascinated by the arrogance of mankind, saving the planet is not the same as saving humanity)
Of course I couldn't remember actually being born, but I had been told how I was born. I wasn't sure of the truth of it all as I had heard several stories, many strange and contradictory. The most common one seemed to involve me being born out of my mother, the Sun, whatever that could mean. She called me her little "terror". Anyway I had several brothers and sisters who all seemed to orbit around my mother. Some were close, others more distant and cooler towards her. There were strange whispered tales that all their births were the result of mother being penetrated by some other body, though I never saw any evidence of this being, apart from my fellow offspring of course.
I had been getting more curious about what kind of life I could expect as a young planet. Mother still seemed bitter about being left alone with just her planetary offspring, and warned me of the serious impact that another body could have on my life. She said we might come under the influence of some body just going round, and deceive ourselves into thinking that this was real Star. She warned that if some body came too close into my orbit, the attraction could be so intense that I would be torn away from my family and thrown out into the wide universe. If I was particularly unfortunate, the impact might destroy me, with no-one to pick up the pieces. She told me that she herself had experienced a very narrow escape when she had given birth to us her offspring, and claimed in her more melodramatic moments that we had "nearly been the death of her". She gave me other warnings too. The one that I remembered most was that about the disease she called Lyeph.
Lyeph was an affliction she told me, a disease which an unfortunate planet could suffer from during adolescence. For a planet, adolescence is when it starts to become cool. This is when it is still hot and churned up on the inside, yet on the surface it is starting to become firm, even hard. Planets were only vulnerable to its ravages at this one brief phase in its life. Lyeph she said was a skin infection which disfigured the face of the planet, but had negligible effect on the body within. The first telltale signs were the appearance of revolting green patches on the planets skin. The disease mutated its form throughout its lifespan, generally coagulating into bigger lumps. In time these green patches spread further and further over the drier parts of the planets skin, however the driest parts of the skin seemed fairly immune. This main phase, though quite shocking and offensive at first sight, did very little real damage. Experts claimed that the infection started in the thin blue moist areas first. There was evidence of infection there, but as there was little to show on the surface it caused much less concern and embarrassment.
In the later stages of the infection however all sorts of strange phenomena could be seen if one looked close enough. Criss-crossed lines appeared in many places, as did extensive brown patches, which now seemed almost free of infection. Though some of these brown scars cut right through the surface skin, they were the first signs that the affliction was coming to its natural and inevitable end. Mother wanted to stress one thing upon me: That planets disease was self sterilising, and that further infection was unlikely. Sometimes the end of the complaint was marked by many nasty red eruptions on the surface. If one happened to catch sight of this incredibly brief stage one could be reassured that the sterilisation process would be virtually perfect, (it is sometimes called the New-Clear stage). The surface skin then quickly returns to that attractive grey which all planets know is the real sign of lasting health.
I was disturbed by what she had told me, so she reminded me what a minor thing Lyeph really was for a planet. Firstly it was only a superficial skin infection which had no effect on the inner body of the planet, or on the planets direction. It only affected appearances, and she assured me that it is what is inside that counts (she should know, she is rather big!). Secondly she continued, it only affects you for a very brief time in your existence. Thirdly, it is very rare among planets, and Lastly she said, remember that is self curing and so requires no treatment. She told me that she had heard of at least one case which had been miraculously cured when some body (an asteroid called Chiron?) had just bumped into the afflicted planet and sacrificed its life to heal them. At best, it didn't sound the kind of thing one could rely on, at worst it sounded a highly dangerous form of treatment for a disease which cures itself so quickly.
I feel warmly towards my mother, yet there was a part of what she told me that made me worry about her stability. She told me that the infection was made up of many different organisms of varying sizes. In the final stage before self sterilisation, it is thought that one of the most infectious and more mobile organisms within the purulent mass, succumbs to an affliction of its own, Self Importance. I found this a ludicrous concept. How could something so transient, so small and insignificant, possibly have the idea that it is important. Long long after all trace of it has gone, we will be going round as if Lyeph had never existed.
Richard Epworth - 13/9/97
Last updated 2008-02-20