At its birth, the potato knew only darkness.
The potato’s life was simple. It rested quietly within its home, sharing the soil with the earthworms, slugs, beetles, and other organisms all around. It grew slowly, but steadily. Although the potato was aware of the existence of other potatoes around it, they were of no interest to it. The potato was content to enjoy its life as a simple potato.
But then, one day, it all changed.
The potato was shocked as it was ripped unceremoniously from its home. It swung in the air briefly, experiencing its first taste of freedom from the ground, before callused hands grasped it. Without a moment’s preparation, something was ripped from where it had been attached to the potato. The potato had never realized its existence prior to this moment, but the sudden void left by its removal was unmistakable. The potato’s nourishment was gone. Mere moments later, the potato was dropped into a pile of other potatoes. Most potatoes would feel strongly about this – the shock of being so rudely unearthed, the sickening feeling of losing something so dearly held, the embarrassment of being thrown so casually in with strange potatoes. But this potato was different; this potato was indifferent.
The potato eventually found itself inside a box. From what it could tell, many of the other potatoes surrounding it had accompanied it to this new location. The ground bounced and shook for many minutes before everything became calm again. The calm, however, was not to last. Frantic sounds closed in and enveloped everything. The pitch of the sounds was high, and hurried, and through it all the potato experienced unfamiliar sensations as unseen forces touched the potatoes all around and removed them. Their destinations were not known to the potato. Nor was his, when it was lifted by an unseen force and thrown, none too gently, into a sack. Several of the other potatoes from the box were nearby, but the potato ignored them. Their numbers had already dwindled once; chances were that it would happen again.
In this assumption, however, the potato was wrong. Its ultimate destination was one of familiarity, but also of strangeness. The potato was able to tell that it had descended once more below the surface – attuned from a life among the earth, it could feel the soil all around it. The familiar comfort was held back, however, by barriers unknown to the potato. Strangely symmetrical in size and shape, they created an area surrounded by, but not filled by, the dirt. Strange beings moved around the area slowly. Although the potato had no way of knowing, its potato instincts provided a term for these beings: Human. With no contradicting information, the potato accepted the term and studied the humans. Assuming that they had been the ones to create the strange sounds earlier, the potato found it odd that their demeanor would have so changed. There were four humans in all – two larger, and two smaller. The smaller ones were the more energetic of the group, but the potato observed a strange phenomenon involving all of them. At seemingly random periods of time, some or all of them would fall in place and stop moving. There was no way to know when it would happen, or how long it would last. The potato studied this event silently.
Time passed. Not long after arriving at this place, one of the humans had doused the potato with an odd substance. Internally, the potato could tell that its aging had slowly, drastically. It was careful not to reveal this information to the other potatoes. If, for some reason, they had not received the same treatment, then it would rule as the potato god. For now, though, the potato sat and observed the humans. As time passed, their mannerisms changed. Previously, the smaller humans had been the primary source of noise, but as time passed the two larger humans began creating an even larger disturbance, and even more frequently. The potato watched the larger humans regularly hurl items through the air – occasionally, at each other, but usually just against the boundaries of the environment. On one occasion, the potato watched as one of them picked up a fellow potato and hurled it. The potato watched it impact the boundary and split open, falling to the ground in a crumpled mess. The potato watched it die, slowly, forgotten by the humans as quickly as it had been selected. Some of the other potatoes expressed indignation and outrage. They schemed to overthrow the humans. The potato was indifferent.
Years later, the entire situation had changed. There were only three humans in the space now. One morning, one of the smaller ones had been pulling on the boundaries of the space, when something snapped free. The lighting for the space had dimmed considerably, and a peculiar smell had permeated the space. The other humans reacted frantically at first, but their actions quickly slowed. Strangely, they moved slowly for quite some time after that. Just as strange was the smaller human. Gradually, but unmistakably, it grew. This puzzled the potato, as the human appeared completely untethered to its environment. The potato had ceased to grow since the day of its violent removal from its home. One day, the smaller human came, alone, into the area that housed the potato and its few remaining kin. The smaller human took them, one by one, until the potato was the last of its kind remaining. The smaller human looked at the potato for a long minute, and the potato looked back at it. Eventually, the smaller human turned and departed, leaving the potato behind. The potato never saw the smaller human again. The larger humans, who had lapsed into a predictable pattern of lethargy, seemed to be reinvigorated when they learned that the potato was the last of its kind. They made noise like they hadn’t for years, and once again, objects flew all over the space. They eventually collapsed to the ground and remained there for some time.
Not long after that, one of the larger humans began to speak to the potato. The potato, being intelligent, had learned to understand the human speech years ago, though it gave no outward indication of this ability. The potato listened to the human speak of matters. It spoke of destruction, and of hopelessness. It spoke of feeling alone. It spoke of paranoia (a term that the potato was unfamiliar with, although it eventually pieced together a general idea of the concept) regarding the other human. The potato did not understand why the human had begun to show such an interest in it, but more and more, the human chose to direct all of its attention to the potato. It would shout at the other human when questioned, and spend time in front of the potato, grasping itself and rocking back and forth unsteadily. The potato did not understand the human’s apparent lack of balance; there was no movement to cause such a problem. Finally, one night, the human retrieved a shining object from a concealed area. The potato had seen the same object used in the past, always to forcibly cut other objects into smaller pieces. This time, however, the human concealed it and waited. The other human entered the space, and with a cry that sounded savage even to the potato, was attacked. It ended in moments, and the unsuspecting human laid on the ground, unmoving.
In the following days, the other human’s behavior changed drastically. It began to call itself a peculiar name – “Jack”. It used the shining object to carve lines into the walls of the surrounding area. The other human laid, prone, on the ground. Although the potato had observed all of the humans do this from time to time, this human did not change its position. The human calling itself “Jack” would stare at the potato for lengths of time before moving around the space. “Jack” constantly made noise now; typically, low murumurs that were almost inaudible, but at times, it would rise to a piercing shriek before falling back in volume.
Finally, one day, a change came. From somewhere out of the potato’s sight came a hissing noise, and then the environment changed. The air that had permeated the place for so long was suddenly accompanied by something that the potato had not experienced for years – fresh air. A new human moved into the space, clad in strange garments that were more cumbersome than the identical items worn by the previous humans. “Jack” howled at the newcomer and charged at them, out of the potato’s view. Moments later, with a loud noise, “Jack” came back into sight. The new human swung an object into “Jack”, and the potato watched “Jack” fall to the ground, unmoving. Several minutes passed with the newcomer standing completely still, and then they began moving around the area. They picked things up and deposited them into an unseen space, but bypassed others. This continued until the human came upon the potato. Much like the smaller human before it, their hand hovered over the potato. This time, however, the potato was not indifferent. The potato exuded all of its strength and focused it toward the human, intent on proving that it was the superior being.
“Bob, we’ve found another glitch. This potato just jumped up out of nowhere and killed my character.”
“Aw, Greg, don’t tell me these things. The game’s shipped and it’s coming out tomorrow. Just let it go.”