I'm trying to find an English-language short story I read in a collection about five to ten years ago (I don't have any idea of the original publication date).

Here's everything I remember:

  1. The story is about human astronauts landing on an alien's planet, from the alien's point of view.
  2. Every organism on the alien planet is part of a single hive mind, and they can telepathically infect the humans (the aliens view this as beneficial, as any mind separated from the hive must be suffering), but choose not to once they realize that there's an entire planet of humans out there.
  3. The narrator alien is an organism that was designed by the hive to mimic a non-essential component on the spacecraft, so it can stow away when the humans return to Earth.
  4. The narrator alien is preparing to infect all of Earth as soon as the shuttle's door opens, but the component it replaced was the wire that opens the door, so it is fried instantly by the current.

Despite knowing all these elements of the story, I haven't had luck Googling it, because so many of these elements are very common sci-fi themes on their own, and I don't remember any unique names/terms. I don't remember if I read this in a Sci-fi anthology book, or in a magazine (like 'Asimov'). Thanks in advance if anyone can help me track this one down, it's been bugging me for a long while.

1 Answer 1


This is Asimov's Green Patches aka Misbegotten Missionary.

It ends with the little organism mimicking a wire thinking

The main air locks were about to be opened --

And all thought ceased.

As you mention, sadly for the organism, it picked the airlock door wire to mimic.

  • 2
    That's it! Thanks, that's been driving me crazy...I'd completely forgotten about the patches replacing the eyes-- that would've probably made my Googlations much more successful.
    – Liesmith
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 18:24
  • Glad I could help out. Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 18:25

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