This one is going to be a little more "out there" because I'm looking for something I read on the internet; I don't know if it's ever been published in any physical form.

I don't remember the plot of the story at all, but it's about a human who is one of the last of the humans. Humans using some tech (might have been nanotech) have tried to cure all ailments by eliminating mutations. The story specifically mentioned that 'we included our symbiotic bacteria', but after a while, humans are dying because the environment changed and we (humans) are no longer to adapt. As a result, we started uplifting other species, including horses, I'm pretty sure elephants, and probably dolphins and chimpanzees though I don't recall them specifically. Several of these had... issues. The horses were the most prominent... and they sang. Initially, this is a strange and confusing habit, but whatever goes on in the story, it ends with the POV character saying a line very much like "now I know why the horses sing".

Does anyone remember this and know the author/title? Is there a copy online somewhere?


Possibly "That Which Survives"

True I know that all mankind is doomed but somehow the fact that this means I'm doomed overshadows everything.

It's not that I'm callous about the loss of human civilization. I have fought mightily to keep the race going. I did pioneering work in the field of human recombinant fertility. Even pushed the frontiers of nanotics with the equine resettlement program. It's just that now that humanity is down to a handful of people it's getting hard to think of it as a race. All that's left is the twelve of us. In another day after I'm gone it'll be elven. Sometimes extinction sneaks up on a race like a windshield on a bug.


Strange things happen if you break this web. Go to a foreign city and the water poisons organisms in your bowels. They die and suddenly the ph is all wrong. The waves of peristolysis come too quickly. There isn't enough time to scavange back the water invested in digestion. Diareah ensues. Luckily the bacteria can adapt or a local variant can move in. In time a new aliance is struck and the balance is restored. All is well. So it goes humanity and all it's components adapting to the world together.

We hadn't forgotten our friends. THey were made just as immutable as we were. THere lay the problem. Time has a different meaning in the microcosm. WHile a thousand years is nothing in evolutionary time for humans. It is ages for a microbe. Given any pressure every organism in an area will adapt to it's evironment. Every organism is striving to adapt in a limited world. There are millions of microbes that would love to live in the human gut. Each mutation is a potential weapon to destroy the dominant organism and claim it's ecologial niche. Every mutuation is a weapon to defend one's niche and keep the maurauding microbes at bay. It's not just mutations either. Microbes are a strange lot. They believe in free trade. Sending out recombinants of interesting genes. Accepting recombinants into thier own genomes. Small wedding rings of DNA binding all life together. All life except our's that is. The immutable human group. Unwilling or unable, cut off from the ring of life. It took less than a thousand years for the web off life to respond. IF humans wouldn't trade then humans wouldn't play. One by one the human group is being replaced.


Humanity was about fighting and striving to wrest meaning out of a universe apparently devoid of it. A madman's grasp at an illusionary apple. They already know the answer that has been mankinds whole quest. I don't know what they are but they aren't human. I once asked one of them, "Why live if there is no knowledge to strive for? Why live if there are no secrets to find?" His face brightened and he said simply, "You understand. Why live?"

Very soon I won't. The cold earth calls to me and as my mind begins to fade out I think of the process behind it all. My thought emerging as my brain tries to form an explanation for actions. Actions taken as a long emergent phenomenon of quantum forces winding thier way up from the sub-atomic to create an illusion of existance. The illusion only know breaking down as the continuity of my life is breaking down. Death pulling at me. One less man. Just as my last thought stretches out and fades away into infinity I suddenly hold it as a single perfect note and I understand why the horses sing.

Found with a search for "why the horses sing"

  • 1
    Ack! I must not have tried with quotes. Yeah, that's almost certainly it; thanks! (I thought I'd kept a copy, but if I did, I sure can't find it. Well, that's fixed now!) – Matthew May 17 '20 at 21:39

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