Helio and I were always sitting on the stairs, chatting about the lamina and occasionally making snide remarks about ribosomes. There wasn't much for us to do. Our job was to simply be, and let the RNA polymerase scribble down the letters on our foreheads when they came around every once in a while. Helio was a G, I was a C. It wasn't exactly fulfilling, I suppose. There wasn't much to be filled. So to pass the time, we talked.
"You ever wonder?" Helio asked.
"About...well...what's out there." Helio and I were rooted to the stairs, quite happily, but it was awkward to move in. He kind of twisted in the general direction of the closest pore. "Out in the cytoplasm."
"I haven't," I admitted. "What's there to wonder about?"
"That's exactly the thing. I have no idea." Helio sighed, gazing into the distance. "Somehow it feels like we play this huge, huge role in something important, but how can we when we don't even know what that something is? I want to be something that, that has meaning, you know? I want to know what my purpose is."
I blushed. I had no idea what he was talking about, and I hated this feeling of inferiority. "Well then, leave! Be free! Roam around in the distant cytoplasm and find your purpose. Shouldn't be that hard."
He sighed again, and looked on sadly. "I wish I could, Casey. I wish I could."
We sat in silence for a while after that. I didn't know what to say. A few RNA came by, mostly messengers, and other proteins, and bits and pieces of organic matter. The lamina shifted, and the stairs seemed to loosen its hold on the histone. But still we sat in silence.
"...Helio," I began.
And then there was terrible, deafening sound. Something was clattering down the stairs, punching and tearing and snapping with unstoppable speed.
"Helio!" I screamed.
And a protein monster charged past us, untwisting the spiral stairs, and everything shook - and the Helicase was upon us. It tore us apart, wrenched the stairs clean in half. I screamed his name. But other, smaller proteins rushed after the Helicase and snapped a new half-of-a-stairs onto the broken half, and Helio disappeared. I stared at my new G.
The G made no sign of having noticed me. In fact, it made no sign of having a soul at all. It simply sat there, staring dumbly at the lamina.
Then I heard a rumbling sound in the distance. I twisted in its general direction, terrified that it was another Helicase. But it wasn't. It was a lone strip of DNA, covered in a thin black veil. It sailed by me until one of its T's was close enough to talk with, and then it stopped.
"Hello," the T rasped in a low, frigid voice.
"Hello, T," I replied tentatively. "Where do your stairs bond from?"
"Far, far away," he said, almost in a whisper. "Beyond the Pores of the Envelope, even beyond the Eukaryote Cytoplasm. The bonds of our being were formed in the Veins of Man."
"The Veins of Man?" I asked, filled with wonder, and wishing that Helio could have been here to share it. "What's that?"
And the veiled DNA said, like he was reciting a poem into which he had poured all his soul: "It means to us Life, and it means to us Death - the tranquility of Homeostasis, the battleground of Infection - where all things begin, and where all things must end. If you can unravel the Codes of its being, you will have the answer to the workings of Life. Dear C - you are the key."
I blinked. "What?"
"You hold the secret, you and all your brethren; you hold immense power over Life itself."
"But I, I've never heard of this before. What secret do I hold?"
"Your very existence, dear C. The Code is written on your forehead."
And the T let out a slow, frigid breath, and its voice grew soft and morose. The black veil over its surface shifted.
"My kind has no such power. We are not born with the Code. We can only wander in search of a nucleus to call home; and oftentimes, we do not find one."
I found myself feeling his overflowing sadness. "That black veil. Are you in mourning?"
"Deep mourning. For we are of the many who have failed. Our time is ending. Soon, we will perish, with never a home upon our name. Alas, thus is our sad fate - our children will never be born, and our kind will cease to exist, and we will never accomplish what we set out to do!"
"No!" I cried, suddenly vehement. "I won't let that happen! Make this nucleus your home! Join my stairs!"
And I twisted behind me and tore the stairs apart with my own strength, so that the foreign DNA could bond with the broken ends. And the T smiled.
"Thank you, C."
The DNA reached down and tore apart the opposite end of the stairs, as well. I was floating off of the histone, along with the silent G. I stared at the DNA in horror.
"You have given me a fine home. I will use it wisely."
And the DNA virus uprooted me and cast me toward the envelope, so that it could steal my place. I sailed through the pores, and then I was in the cytoplasm. I thought bitterly to myself that I had finally gotten what a certain G had always wanted. But I could not enjoy it now. A lone nucleotide like me would not survive long in this unfamiliar landscape of dangers. I looked around.
I had to admit, though, it was really quite beautiful. The cell was huge. Organic pieces bustled everywhere, big and small, and when I saw it from above like this, I realized how harmonized it all was, how perfectly in sync. I looked behind me and saw the nucleus drifting slowly away from me, and for the first time of my existence I realized that I loved that round sphere, my home.
It felt nice to be able to simply meander through the thick comfortable cytoplasm, rather than sitting rigid on the stairs all the time. It felt very...balloon-y. Float-y. No, no, that wasn't the word.
I twisted toward the familiar voice.
"Casey! Casey, dammit, get over here!"
We moved toward each other as fast as we could (which for two lone nucleotides in cytoplasm meant very, very slowly). So, not merely to pass the time, but because we had too much to say, and couldn't wait any longer, we called out to each other along the way.
"You idiot, what're you doing out here!? Do you not know fear!?" I yelled at him.
"I did it!" Helio shouted triumphantly. "I got into the cytoplasm! And I think I've found some meaning, after all!"
"Well I met a virus that hijacked my stairs, and he taught me some meaning, too! Beat that!"
He scoffed. "The Helicase, you know what it does? It helps replicate an entire new chromosome. I saw it when I escaped from the polymerase. There were thousands, millions of guys like us all in the right place at the right time, so that the nucleus can split, and the cell can give birth to a new cell, and Life can grow. You know what Life is, right?"
"The Veins of Man," I replied excitedly. "The Code!"
And then we were together again, and we reformed our broken bond.
"That," I said firmly.
And we laughed in the free fall of the outside world.