They worshipped the tough, spiny thing. For hundreds of miles around the Talebistas would come to the site and marvel at the survivor, babble about its resilience and prophesize concerning its future. A harbinger of the new world.
Black Swans had destroyed the old.
That’s what the Talebistas called the elegant and impenetrable alien mechs that descended without foresight or warning. The ET armada razed the earth in an uncompromising harvest forcing humanity deep into the earth to wait out the ravenous invaders, if possible. Once the Black Swans picked the earth clean of its biomass, they quickly departed, leaving a virtually lifeless world.
A smattering of humanity survived. Mostly Talebistas who thrived on disruption and disaster. They were the disaster capitalists, suspicious of stability, the status quo, peace. Talebistas worshipped conflict and hardship and exploited it for their gains. They were the Puritans of this new dead world and they aimed to make it antifragile. Perfectly willing to let things break. To become stronger.
To them the tough, spiny thing—the first living organism to sprout on earth’s surface in a generation—was the symbol of their antifragile belief. And in that spirit they named it Rosasharon.
Day by day, more and more Talebistas along with other human factions long hidden in underground caves and shelters emerged to pay homage and to plan for recolonization of the surface. They fervently believed a more robust world would emerge along with the appearance of Rosasharon.
A kind of frenzy erupted at the site when a seedpod was noticed on the singular plant. Great pains were taken as the pod swelled. They wanted to be ready to capture the seed and spread it. It would be the Hydra of all flora, and they would sow it to engender a more robust, resilient world.
Vigils were held. Some Talebistas prophesized the pod would open at the full moon. Others swore only the searing heat of noon would crack the pod. All was wagered. Fights broke out. Faces bloodied. And all smiled. It was an antifragile time.
The pod continued to swell until it was the size of a child’s fist, and one mid-morning it began to split. Slowly, very slowly, a slight seam opened. The Talebistas gathered en masse jostling one another, covetous and awestruck.
From the ruptured casing, a single pearl of luminescent fluid gathered. It grew in size and all eyes watched as surface tension battled gravity. The Talebistas uttered a collective gasp as a drop of Rosasharon’s essence plopped to the charred regolith at the tough, spiny thing’s base.
Instantly, the moisture was sucked into the greedy soil which at once shuddered beneath the plant. The Talebistas inched closer to see what wonder their antifragile Rosasharon would produce. A mound formed at the tough, spiny thing’s base and pouched higher until it was nearly level with the miraculous seedpod.
Suddenly, from the risen mound, a wiry appendage thrust forth and then another, then another: clawing limbs, legs, antennae and pincing maw, and finally a deathly dark shell.
Awakened from the burnt soil, the foot-long cockroach shook off the scorched earth, clutched the seedpod in its forelegs and spread translucent wings.
It rose in the motionless air and snapped off the seedpod.
Hovering before the stunned Talebistas, the cockroach cracked the seedpod and gobbled the offering. The empty casing dropped at their feet. The cockroach’s ebony shell glistened like the Black Swans of Mother Earth’s nightmares. It buzzed above the crowd for a moment and then rose high upon a thermal that carried it far beyond the craters of greater Lost Angeles.
Not surprisingly, the Talebistas fell to their knees and pounded the unforgiving earth in brute applause, appreciating antifragility in all its uncompromising majesty.