There, on the hills and ridges, the creatures were still moving. They seemed to be crawling in and out of little caves in the blue-green mass.
I withdrew from the microscope and made a face at my assistant. “Your son had this under his bed?”
“Boys will be boys,” he said cheerfully. “He was so terribly eager for me to take a look at it that I had to agree. Just as well I got it out of the house, in any case. His mother would have been none too pleased to come across it.”
“Yes. Well.” I glanced down at what, to the naked eye, was a fuzzy lump of mold as big as my palm. I bent again to the eyepiece. At first, the tiny creatures seemed to have vanished, but soon I found them farther along the lump. Bemused, I watched them band together into one clump. A single one detached itself and climbed halfway up a ridge.
It was surely my imagination, but the others seemed to face it, almost like they were listening.
I turned away. “We've both had our look, and stayed after to do it. It's time we left.”
“S'pose it is. I'll get the stuff.” He trotted off to the other room to clean up.
Alone, I peered once more into the microscope. The creatures had shifted again, and were now single file, moving slowly across the dips and mounds in what passed for a straight line. They were nearing the edge of the mold.
I straightened up, shaking my head. The mind was forever seeing patterns where there were none, observing the random movements of nature and seeing purpose in them. I gingerly took the lump in a gloved hand. I would throw it in the trash bin outside, and think no more of the mysterious motion of mindless microorganisms.
It wasn't as if it meant anything, after all.