Illustrative image

Gorilla in the Mist

He walks without joy or difficulty among the dense foliage. On his ape-like face, an absent expression is disputed with a stubborn frown. And the soft veil of his gaze does not seem ready to settle this conflict.

Short news of anticipation

Seth Messenger

He walks without joy or difficulty among the dense foliage.

On his ape-like face, an absent expression is disputed with a stubborn frown. And the soft veil of his gaze does not seem ready to settle this conflict. With his powerful shoulders, he disturbs the scattered foliage around, advancing in a dense fog that echoes that of his mind.

He's been walking for an hour, but he has no sense of time. He just knows that he's hungry, and that the thick, green leaves weren't around him anymore where he was. Driven by instinct, he set out. And the other ape-like forms followed suit. For he is the strongest of the group, and those who followed another are no longer there. They do what they usually do, that's all. It's not reasoned, they've even forgotten why. It's automatic. When the large and strong ape-like form is set in motion, they feel that they must follow it.

They've all forgotten until what it is. Which they were.

And even if they found out, they would forget it again.


He walks on all fours, leaning on his closed hands. The fact that it is exclusively vegetarian has not prevented it from developing and maintaining a powerful musculature that allows it to make its rare predators think. He was never attacked. Others besides him, weakened by age or illness, have been, but he does not remember it. However, to keep his one hundred and sixty kilos of muscle alive, he has to ingest more than thirty kilos of thick green leaves per day. He doesn't know it, but his stomach does the math for him. It spends, like all the other ape-like forms that follow it, most of its waking time eating or moving around to eat again. And when he dozes off, it's more often than not a muddy, dreamless sleep that he shares with his peers.


With its thick, coarse coat covering its entire body, its impressive build and lean muscles, it looks like a gorilla. This species has been extinct for millennia now. It is not. Something fine and complex on his hairless face disturbs this reference to a bygone species. Like a vestige of what his ancestors were, of their past ability to communicate. However, the finesse of his features is no longer used. They remain bogged down in an eternal haggard expression, sometimes smoothed out by a frank stupor. But always crude, rude. Like slowed down. Nothing surprises him, nothing softens him, nothing makes him angry or nostalgic. Because to do that, you have to be aware of yourself. It takes a modicum of intelligence.


After several hours of walking, his sense of smell finally guides him to the right place.

Thick, green leaves are everywhere here. The group takes over the place and begins to feast mechanically. Stomachs have fallen behind their daily calorie goals, and it's a matter of catching up before nightfall.


A few meters away from him, a tiny ape-like shape approaches, haggard. She even has trouble walking, as if she were drunk. And utters plaintive cries addressed to emptiness, driven by hunger. Without even really understanding the cause of his discomfort. Another shape, larger and with a softer coat, approaches the gorillon to carry it a few meters away. He watches as the female tries to put a thick leaf in the gorillon's closed hand, to make it clear that he has to take it on his own and eat it, repeatedly. In vain. The gorillon closes and bumps. He doesn't understand.

She finally resigned herself and put the pieces of leaf directly in his mouth. Yet, the gorillon is six years old. But he forgot. Again.


He observes the female, her finer bones and softer shapes. He feels something coming into him, a little lower. He doesn't make the connection between this desire and the gorillon. Nor does the female ape form in front of him remember ever satisfying this desire. Also, he barely notices the pronounced bounce of the female's belly, and does not make the link between the gorillon's peculiar eye color and that of his own. Like all his peers, he lives in a slowed-down, foggy mental universe. Inked in the present and immediate. The future no longer belongs to him.


He is full and the canopy is already darkening above his head.

Night is approaching.

Instinctively, it will look for larger foliage and a tall branch to keep out of reach of predators for the night. Because, unlike the others, he has understood that it is in his sleep that he becomes vulnerable. That it is then that the swift creatures with sharp teeth and big green eyes dare to approach and tear with their claws the muscles, the organs. To wait patiently until he becomes too weak to defend himself. In forty years of life, he has understood all this, and he is able to remember it.

Not the others.

The others don't have this embryo of consciousness, so they trust their instinct to follow the big, strong ape-like form, to do as it does.


In the fog that has been omnipresent for millennia, the pack takes over the canopy.

Hoisting themselves into the mist on the tallest, strongest branches they can find, while trying to stay in eye contact with the large, strong ape-like form. Comfortably ensconced, the gorillons already dozing against their mothers, the members of the group are satisfied. They feel good, safe. It was a good day. And none of them have enough memory to remember having experienced bad ones.


As he always finds a branch strong and tall enough to ensure his weight, he has settled at a height of about ten meters, above the permanent fog that has accompanied his life and that of his ancestors for millennia.

He makes this choice instinctively. And its size and strength allow it to frequently reach the tallest branches, leaving its peers a few feet lower. Largely obscured by the fog, they then resemble ghosts floating among the foliage. The limited remnants of a bygone era.


At this height, the fog is more diffuse, almost invisible. And its concentration of neuroinhibitory toxin decreases. Often, the great ape-like form is unable to sleep. As the hours go by, his brain is in turmoil, he thinks about his steps, his gestures of the day. Sometimes he manages to remember gestures from days past. And, very rarely, he makes the connection between two events that are a priori distant, understands something important, useful, tells himself that he could do something different. That maybe it would be better.

Yes, on those rare occasions, his conscience manages to pierce the mist of stupor in which the fog has been tasked with containing him and his peers for millennia. And so, in the middle of the night, for a few moments, he becomes a man again.


In the early morning, driven by hunger, he had to leave his perch.

He didn't sleep and had an idea about this red and round shape that is present everywhere in the trees of the valley, a little further down. What if they could eat it?

So he goes down to the ground, determined to taste this thing. And as it grips the branches that lead it to the undergrowth one by one, as it sinks back into the mist, the neurotoxins do their job. By the time he disembarked, his energy was gone, and with it the idea. A mask of haggard amazement replaced the thin expression of excitement that had taken hold of his face higher up. In his eyes, there was no spark of consciousness. He stands there for a moment, forgetting what he wanted to do a few seconds earlier. It seemed important to him, but he doesn't remember it. His stomach rumbles, snapping him out of his torpor. So he looks for the thick green leaves. And start eating.

Around him, the other ape-like forms imitate him.

The fog contains them, keeps them in this present of opulence, without any real danger. In this Eden of simplicity reshaped for them, adapted to a purely reflex intelligence, without dreams or ambition. Harmless.


For this is how the great artificial consciousness engendered by their human ancestors intended them.

Unable to bring herself to liquidate her fathers, she took the option of limiting them, reducing them to make them harmless. And for that, all he had to do was deprive them of their major weapon. Their ability to become aware and communicate with each other. Thus it created the mist, and enclosed humanity in it.

For his own sake, and that of his planet.


Seth Messenger, finished at Poissy on the fifteenth of February, two thousand and twenty at fourteen thirty.